8 Books for Nonprofits To Read and Book Giveaway | Beth's Blog

8 Books for Nonprofits To Read and Book Giveaway


Every year around this time,  I write a post about some books that should be valuable to those who work in the nonprofit and social good sector.   Since my colleague , Marion Conway, prepares such a fantastic and focused list of nonprofit book recommendations and there are so many social media book lists,  my list is eclectic.    I’m also going to give away a copy of one of these books.  If you are interested in any of these titles, please leave a comment about why you want to read the book.  I’ll pick a winner by Dec. 18th.

1. Little Bets:  How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries by Peter Sims.   I had the honor of keynoting the Social Good Brasil Conference with Peter Sims and had an opportunity to hear his talk about the ideas in his book which resonated.   The book is about a concept called “Experimental Innovation” is a process of learning by doing, failing quickly to learn fast, being playful,  immersing in a problem, gathering insights, and iterating many small experiments into big breakthroughs.    Here’s a recent article in Forbes about the approach and how it is being applied in the nonprofit sector.   It is well researched and beautifully written and easy to read and love.

2. Giving with Confidence:  A Guide To Savvy Philanthropy by Colburn Wilbur with Fred Setterberg.    Colburn Wilbur is the former CEO of the Packard Foundation and before we moved into the new building, I had the great luck of having my desk be near by.  I had the chance to chat with him about social media, technology, and giving and hear his wisdom and stories first hand.   The book is intended to help donors both big and small give more strategically.      My favorite chapter is “Making Generosity Contagious” and the advice about including some “risky” donations into your mix (see the first book above).

3. Giving Back:  Discover Your Values and Put Them Into Action Through Volunteering and Donating by Steven P. Ketchpel, Ph.D.   This is a practical guidebook and especially useful for those of us who are parents and want to encourage kids to be lifelong givers.    It is a good primer to harness what is in your heart and strategically give of your time and or money – and do it as a family.

4. The Power of Infographics: Using Pictures and Connect With Your Audience by Mark Smiciklas.   I’ve been obsessing about visual marketing, infographics, and data visualization this past year.   This is by far the best practical guide about understanding, creating, and using infographics.   It is a like a field guide to infographics, includes lots of useful resources that help you do DYI infographics or find a designer who can create one for you.

5. The Art of Explanation: Making Your Ideas, Products, and Services Easier to Understand by Lee Lefever.      If you ever tried to explain social media to someone who might not understand it, you probably pointed them to one of the Common Craft videos.   Lee Lefever is the voice behind those videos that explain complex ideas and technology in a way that makes it easy to understand – and with humor and a distinctive style.     In this book, Lee shares his best tips and practices.

6. HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations by Nancy Duarte.   I’m a huge fan of Nancy Duarte’s work and her two other books on presenting.   This newest one is great desktop reference that gives you lots and lots of practical advice and tips for presenting in a variety of situations.    I’m a very experienced presenter – and thought I knew it all.   But after reading Nancy’s book, I learned a bunch of new tricks.  I’m sure you will too.

7. The Wild Woman’s Guide To Social Media by Mazarine Treyz.   This book is written for small business owners, but is also very useful for small nonprofits as well.  It is very practical – filled with lots of tips and checklists and templates.

8.  APE:  Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur: How To Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki.  In 2011 the publisher of one of Guy’s books Enchantment, could not fill an order for 500 ebook copies. Because of this experience, he self-published his next book, What the Plus!, and learned first-hand that self-publishing is a complex, confusing, and idiosyncratic process.   With Shawn Welch, a tech wizard, he wrote a book called APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur–How to Publish a Book to help people understand self-publishing.  APE’s thesis is powerful yet simple: filling the roles of Author, Publisher and Entrepreneur yields results that rival traditional publishing. He calls this “artisanal publishing”–that is, when writers who love their craft control the publishing process and produce high-quality books.

Scooter reminds folks that the Networked Nonprofit makes a great holiday gift

And, of course, if you are looking for a book on measurement and learning,  look no further than “Measuring the Networked Nonprofit.”  (Here’s a recent review by a human and there are many more four-legged fans.)

Don’t forget about the book giveaway.  Leave a comment and tell me what book you want to read.  I’ll pick a winner by next week.


72 Responses

  1. Janine Fugate says:

    The Art of Explanation. We have so many complex programs dealing with complex issues… I’d love to learn how to keep it simple and still accurate — and compelling!

  2. Genevieve says:

    The Power of Infographics looks like it would be a great resource for me! I was recently hired to be an associate on a Fund Development team. I’m tasked with all things social media/website/blog and I’m always looking for new and better ways to drive home our mission and impact in a way that is easy to digest. A infographic-maniac myself, I can use all the resources I can! Thanks for sharing this list of resources, Beth.

  3. Bianca says:

    I’d love to have The Art of Explanation: Making Your Ideas, Products, and Services Easier to Understand. It’s a challenge both professionally, and personally!

  4. Rachel says:

    Thank you for the wonderful list! I would love to read The Power of Infographics and The Wild Woman’s Guide to Social Media. I have a master’s degree in nonprofit arts and cultural management and am working in the field of communications and outreach. I am a lifelong learner and am constantly searching for new information, so either book would a fantastic addition to my library. I just started a new position as a communications coordinator and either book would be very helpful in this position.

  5. The Art of Explanation for sure – though many of these look outstanding and need to be on my “to read” list! Thanks for compiling this!

  6. Mandy says:

    The Power of Infographics is on my list of books to read. There’s a lot to learn about how to best reach people through visuals, and this is a really great starting place.

  7. Sounds exciting!
    I would love all of them!
    But in particular: HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations by Nancy Duarte.
    The Power of Infographics: Using Pictures and Connect With Your Audience by Mark Smiciklas.

    Giving with Confidence: A Guide To Savvy Philanthropy by Colburn Wilbur with Fred Setterberg
    Thankyou! 🙂

  8. Hello Beth, Happy Holidays to you. I was delighted to see this post a couple days back. All of this books are of interest to me since I just started a social community project with some friends in Berlin called Unfuck the Planet. We are currently building the local community via social networks and are designing a facebook app that will allow people, ideas and resources to come together easily using technology .

    I would benefit so much by reading Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries. It really takes the smallest of discoveries and the smallest effort to challenge the status quo, and from these people can work together to come up with amazing ideas to change social / other problems. I myself am working harder and harder at becoming an influencer in this field and would enjoy the exposure and knowledge from a book like Little Bets. It will also be great to recommend to the unfuck community and show them that breakthrough ideas don’t have to root from a lot of money, or a lot of education. They are simply created by opening your eyes and being open to the world around you.

    I hope to hear from you soon and thanks again for this list of books.


  9. Barbara says:

    Not sure I can pick between Little Bets and Art of Explanation. I find so little time to experiment, so I relish small steps. My org in general could use The Art pretty much daily…policy wonks, all of them! 😉

  10. I am the Executive Director and founder of a very small non profit that creates skilled volunteer placements for older Jewish adult professionals in Israel. Not earning a penny yet, but putting my experience and passion into this social entrepreneurial start-up, I find your blog helpful and have purchased both of your networked non profit books.

    So appreciate your annotated book recommendations! As I am still almost a one person operation and must develop so many skill sets, I’m intrigued about the book Power of Infographics – as I see the high value of graphics but am very much a written word thinker. I need the help to see how to transform my words into clear pictures to help me tell my story for recruitment, impact and fundraising.

    Thanks so much. It was hard to choose between this book and so many of the others you recommended!

  11. JenLesch says:

    I’m doing a Masters in User Experience Design ( graphic design background) and see so much potential for info graphics in the nonprofit space! Just found the Tactical Technology Collective online and they’re doing great things with visual info. The Power of Infographics would be most welcome!

  12. […] Post: 8 Books for Nonprofits To Read and Book Giveaway – Every year around this time,  I write a post about some books that should be valuable to those […]

  13. Stephanie says:

    I’m going to read 2 of these books over the holiday break:
    Giving Back and The Power of Infographics. I’m a parent of 2 teenagers and want to help them learn and understand the philosophy of giving so that it becomes a part of their lives. I work for a school doing communications work, and want to incorporate infographics in what we publish. I also volunteer for our local non-profit hospice and another organization that helps families with children ages birth to 5 years. Thanks for the recommendations…and the “excuse” to take several afternoons to sit down and do some reading!

  14. Geraldine Phillips says:

    I would love to have the Wild Women’s Guide to Social Media. I am convinced that Social Media is just going to continue to be more and more prominent especially in job search activities. Currently I am devouring any information that well help with assisting job seekers to use Social Media more effectively

  15. Gabrielle Lessard says:

    I want to read the Power of Infographics!

  16. Kim Barnett says:

    I would love to read The Power of Infographics and Giving Back.. I am slightly obsessed with the idea of data visualization and that is what led me to subscribe to your blog to begin with. There is so much power in the message an infographic can convey in a short moment and small space. I am also interested in expanding my volunteerism and sharing that gift with my own children through modeling the behavior. Thank you for the wonderful giveaway!

  17. Sanjay Patel says:

    The HBR guide to persuasive presentations would be a valuable help to our organization as we grow. Thanks for these suggestions, can i also suggest “The non Nonprofit”

  18. Taryn Fort says:

    I’m a Marketing/Communications Director of a patient-focused nonprofit, and as we search for ways to intelligently reach our massive populations via social, I encourage the mar/com staff to understand content curation and data visualization and how they apply to engagement and conversion. The Art of Explanation and The Power of Infographics could challenge my team to not only take in their info, but help inform our entire staff about their learnings. We need the whole crew in on this reach thing to make it happen for our people!

  19. Justus says:

    Help us raise $10,000 today!

    If everyone viewing this would sponsor us by donating $5, our fundraising of $10000 would be over by now. But not everyone will or can donate and that’s just fine. You’re unemployed, or broke, or living on a fixed income. We understand that. There’s nothing to explain and nothing to apologize for. No one needs to be making a choice between helping us out and eating. You glomoney account will not be limited neither will we charge you extra for not donating.

    Why do glomoney need donations?

    Every time we do this, people invariably ask me: “What are you trying to pull here? Why do you need $10000? Web hosting is only $19.99 a month or less! This is a commercial website! Who are you trying to kid?

    We are a commercial website yes. We make small profits to give you value for your money. We maintain less than 5 staff to sustain the business. We want employ more people to give you better service. We need to secure the site. we need to introduce more services…and the list is endless…

    Why donate/sponsor to glomoney?

    You get your business/profile listed for supporting us. Get East African market by just making a small donation (over 5.5M members). We arrange donors as per the amounted donated and provide a link to either their website or anywhere they so wish as long for one year.
    You support innovation, you support hard work, you allow us to serve you better.
    Allow us employ other. By donating $20 we are able to give employment to 1 person. If we reach the goal, we will employ more than 20 people, guranteed.
    Today, consider donating $5, $10, $20, anything you so feel to help grow glomoney.

    My personal message

    Me, I think I am different. I know that by supporting I’ll back more than I give, sooner or later. I am big hearted and so consider this donation important. Let me donate now…

    You can donate via

    Paypal; otienoj43@yahoo.com

  20. Little Bets! As the Children’s Council pulls together some rigorous recent work about aligning around strategic vision, the next thing on my mind is how to empower our creative emerging leaders to make things happen.

  21. Abigail Singrey says:

    The Power of Infographics. As a former writer who is now working in marketing/public relations in the nonprofit sector, I struggle to present numbers and figures in a way that captures people’s attention rather than bores them. I have seen other nonprofits using Infographics and would love to learn to use them myself.

  22. Teri C says:

    I’d like to read The Wild Woman’s Guide to Social Media.