Ten Books for Every Nonprofit Professional's Reading List | Beth's Blog

Ten Books for Every Nonprofit Professional’s Reading List


I travel a lot for work which means I spend many hours on airplanes. If nothing else, it is a good opportunity to catch up on reading. Here’s ten books that nonprofit colleagues and authors have shared with me in the last few months and I wanted to share them with you.

If you are looking for more recommendations, check out Book Authority’s list of 52 Best Nonprofit eBooks of All Time (The Happy Healthy Nonprofit is #9).  Looking for philanthropy focused reading?  Check out these book recommendations from GivingCompass or pre-order your copy of Robert Reich’s Just Giving: Why Philanthropy Is Failing Democracy and How To Do Better

1)      Asking Styles: Revolutionize Your Fundraising by Brian Saber

Brian and I are often following each other on the nonprofit conference speaking circuit. Recently he sent me a copy of his book. The book is for any fundraising professional who needs to ask for charitable gifts face-to-face.  The work is difficult, but Brian’s advice and practical tools on how to approach donors in this book will make you successful.

2)    Back to Human: How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation by Dan Schawbel

I have known Dan Schawbel for over a decade since his early work in personal branding way back when. Since that time, Dan Schawbel has been a New York Times bestselling author and a partner at Workplace Trends.com. The thesis of the book is that as technology becomes more pervasive in our work and personal lives, interpersonal skills become more essential. The book provides many research based insights about how to create a high performing workplace culture.  Here’s an article by Dan about his new book.

3)   The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future by Ryder Carroll

I’ve been a huge fan of bullet journal methods for many years ever since I discovered the Bullet Journal Notebook created by Ryan Carroll. While it does require using a paper notebook, it is actually a methodology best described as a mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system. Learn more about it in his TedX Talk.

4)   Calm Not Busy: How To Manage Your Nonprofit’s Communications for Great Results by Kivi Leroux Miller

I’ve know Kivi for over a decade and we often follow each other on the nonprofit conference circuit. Kivi has written several books on nonprofit marketing best practices, but this book looks at how to manage and lead your team with CALM (Collaborative, Agile, Logical, and Methodical).

5)  Creating Signature Stories by David Aaker

Effective storytelling is the secret sauce of nonprofit fundraising and marketing.  David Aaker is the guru of powerful, authentic, and engaging storytelling.  I recently I was the ending keynote for Feeding America’s national conference and David was the opening keynote (although due to an accident his daughter, Jennifer Aaker, a professor at Stanford, delivered his keynote on his behalf).  I picked up many tips and grabbed a copy of the book, which provides practical advice and examples that will get your nonprofit up to speed quickly in sharing stories with impact.

6)  The Goldilocks Challenge: Right-Fit Evidence for the Social Sector by Mary Kay Gugerty and Dean Karlan

This year was honored to be the keynote for the Washington State Nonprofit Conference and teach a workshop at University of Washington. That’s where I met Mary Kay Gugerty who gave me a copy of her book. This book provides a simple framework for measuring impact of a strategy used by a social sector organization. It provides advice on how to develop a theory of change and what can or should be measured.  The book also outlines principles and techniques for impact measurement.

7)  Melandri Fundraising:  Creating Stronger Donor Relationships To Sustain Your Nonprofit for the Really Long Haul by Valerio Melandri

Valerio Melandri is a well-known fundraising guru in Italy. He runs a highly regarded fundraising consulting company, is a professor in Italy, and chair of the Festival del Fundraising, one of the largest gatherings for fundraising professionals. I’ll be keynoting the Festival in 2019. Valerio sent me a copy of his new book that covers the best practices of all aspects of raising money – a bible for development professionals.

8) Modern Media Relations for Nonprofit:  Creating An Effective PR Strategy for Today’s World by Peter Panepento and Antionette G Kerr

For nonprofits that want to be successful in realizing their mission, cultivate new donors, and enhance brand recognition, the ability to navigate the complex media landscape is essential.  Great storytelling is one thing, but you need to your stories shared across the right media channels. This book is chocked full of great advice, examples, and resources from two nonprofit media pros.

9) Road Map for Revolutionaries: Resistance, Activism and Advocacy for All by Elisa Camahort Page, Carolyn Gerin, and Jamia Wilson.

I’ve been writing a blog for over a decade and in the early days I got a big boost from Blogher, co-founded by Elisa Camahort Page, one of the co-authors of this book.  This book is a hands-on, practical guide to social change for grassroots activists. The book provides everything you need in an easy to digest and practical way.  It includes checklists, interviews, case studies, and lots of illustrations and infographics. It is useful for experienced activists as well as those who are just getting started fighting for what is right.

10) Talk Triggers: The Complete Guide to Creating Customers with Word of Mouth by Jay Baer and Daniel Levin.

I have known Jay Baer for more than 10 years. He’s the founder of Convince & Convert, a marketing company that works with for-profit brands. I’ve found his ideas – from his books, blog, and podcasts – have been very transferable to nonprofit work.  This book provides a roadmap for developing a word-of-mouth strategy in a digital age. It is a must read.

Have you read a good book that you would recommend to other nonprofit professionals?  Let me know in the comments of this post!


3 Responses

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