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  • Writer's pictureNonprofit Learning Lab

Fall Reading List for Nonprofit Professionals

Updated: Jun 9, 2023

Summer is over and it’s time to head inside with a good book. The Nonprofit Learning Lab team has compiled this list to help you get started on your fall reading, with topics from innovating questioning, design thinking, and logic model reviews. Learn something new? Share your new insights with coworkers and colleagues, maybe start an office book club to connect if you’re working remotely. We hope you enjoy our picks, and if you’re looking to discover more resources, head to our free resource page.

Solving Problems with Design Thinking: Ten Stories of What Works

by Jeanne Liedtka, Andrew King, and Kevin Bennett

In this book, Liedtka, King, and Bennett incorporate ethnography, visualization, storytelling, and experimentation to produce creative solutions to questions involving strategy implementation, sales force support, internal process redesign, engaging citizens, and more. Using real-world examples and personal perspectives to perfect solutions to different challenges, this book comprehensively outlines the ways in which tools can be utilized in order to successfully implement projects and overcome any obstacles that may arise in the process. More information can be found at this link.

Good to Great and the Social Sectors: Why Business Thinking is Not the Answer

by Jim Collins

Jim Collins answers many of the most common questions revolving around the social sector. He compiled these answers through over 100 interviews with various leaders in the social sector. One of Jim’s major takeaways is “the difference between successful organizations is not between the business and the social sector, the difference is between good organizations and great ones.” Interested? Check out Jim’s book here.

The Why, What If, and How of Innovative Questioning: In A More Beautiful Question

by Warren Berger

This text comprehensively covers “the power of inquiry,” the basics of innovative questioning, and the importance of asking questions both in the workplace as well as throughout life. Berger shows the reader how asking questions is an important facet to constructing a successful business and life by providing more than 300 questions and a myriad of quotes and examples from nonprofit leaders, entrepreneurs, and creatives. Intrigued? You can find Warren Berger’s book on this webpage.

The Logic Model Guidebook

by L. Knowlton & C. Phillips

Focused on strengthening an organization’s strategic models, The Logic Model Guidebook provides the reader with clear steps on how to become acquainted with the idea of creating and carrying out modeling processes. Knowlton and Phillips dive into the structures, processes, and language of various logic models which have the power to improve an organization’s programming and initiatives; which can be accomplished through change efforts focused on the design, development, and implementation of an organization’s logic models. This book can be purchased here.

Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits

by Leslie Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant

Leslie Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant constructed a guide to assist nonprofit organizations with increasing their positive social impact. Through studying 12 nonprofit organizations with high levels of social impact, Crutchfield and McLeod Grant listed six practices these organizations utilize to change their communities and the world. This book is perfect for those in the nonprofit sector, whether you are a nonprofit professional, donor, or volunteer, who are passionate about creating a positive impact on their organization and the world. Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits can be purchased here.

The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact

by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

At its core, The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact shows just how impactful seemingly small moments and experiences can inspire, energize, and shift an individual’s perspective. Using remarkable real-life stories including owners who turned an unnoteworthy property into one of the most influential hotel properties in Los Angeles, Chip and Dan Heath show the reader that every individual has the power to take ordinary moments and create unforgettable, groundbreaking experiences. You can find this book here.

Responsive Fundraising: The Donor-Centric Framework Helping Today’s Leading Nonprofits Grow Giving

by Gabe Cooper

For those interested in fundraising, take a look at Gabe Cooper’s book to learn more about how the art of attracting donors has changed and shifted throughout the end of the 20th century into the first two decades of the new millennium. From direct mail, mass marketing techniques, and drive donations of the 1950s to the social media, smartphones, and globalization of the early 2000s, the realm of fundraising has been constantly shifting and evolving. The objective of this book is to provide readers with the tools to improve their fundraising tactics in real-time, by deepening their knowledge of the modern donor and their giving habits. More information can be found here.

Dollar Dash: The Behavioral Economics of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

by Katrina VanHuss and Otis Fulton

Dollar Dash: The Behavioral Economics of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising uses data collected from behavioral economics and applies them to the nonprofit sector. Katrina VanHuss and Otis Fulton provide the reader with tips and tricks regarding how to obtain, retain, and optimize support from both donors and volunteers. This novel provides stories about some of the most successful peer-to-peer fundraisers, including Relay for Life and the March of Dimes, that aim to assist your organization improve upon your peer-to-peer fundraising strategy. Katrina VanHuss and Otis Fulton’s book can be acquired at this link.

Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change

by Timothy D. Wilson

Timothy Wilson, a world-renowned psychologist, provides manageable steps to help the reader shift the narratives they tell about themselves and the world around them, with subtle changes in language, that can lead to sustainable changes. Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change illustrates just how powerful small changes can be regarding how a person sees themselves and their environment, and how these changes can positively impact their lives. You can find out more about this book here.

Other books we recommend include

  • The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Rosamund Stone Zander & Benjamin Zander found here

  • Handbook of Practical Program Evaluation by Kathryn E. Newcomer & Harry P. Hatry found here

  • Management of Human Service Programs found here

  • More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth found here

  • Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes found here

  • Strategize to WIN by Carla Harris found here

  • Swimming with Sharks in Dark Waters by Athene Brinson found here

  • The Road to Redemption by Lucinda Cross found here

  • Future Proofed by Natalia Peart, PhD found here

  • The Leadership Challenge by James M. Kousez & Barry Z. Posner found here

We hope you enjoyed our list, and encourage you to head over to our free resources page for more great information for nonprofit professionals and organizations alike.


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