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  • Writer's pictureNonprofit Learning Lab

Spring Reading List for Nonprofit Professionals

Updated: Jun 9, 2023

Kick-off spring with a new book! The Nonprofit Learning Lab team has compiled this list to help you get started on your spring reading, with topics from effective leadership, fundraising, working in social justice organizations, and building sustainable programs. Learn something new? Share your new insights with coworkers and colleagues, maybe start an office book club to connect if you’re still working remotely. We hope you enjoy our picks, and if you’re looking to discover more resources, head to our free resource page.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

In this book, Chip and Dan Heath investigate why some ideas stick and others don’t. Using real-world examples, Chip and Dan share tips to help professionals develop their ideas into successful practices and programs. They also share tools that will transform the way professionals in the nonprofit field pitch and communicate ideas. More information about this book can be found on this webpage.

Leading for Justice: Supervision, HR and Culture

by Rita Sever

Created specifically for social justice leaders, this book addresses the specific concerns and issues that impede organizations working for social justice. Sever provides clear guidelines for holding people accountable in a respectful yet effective manner. She also shares personal models and practices for achieving justice and equality as well as how to deal with issues relating to power and privilege and the role of the supervisor in a social justice organization. You can purchase Rita Sever’s book here.

Happy Money: Science of Happy Spending

by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton

For those interested in money management, try Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton’s Happy Money: Science of Happy Spending. In the book, they discuss the science and research behind spending money, while also outlining five principles individuals and companies should follow to become financially secure. Dunn and Norton also give insight on ways companies can create happier employees and provide happier products to their consumers and audience. More information can be found here.

Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Manager’s Guide to Getting Results

by Alison Green and Jerry Hauser

At its core, Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Manager’s Guide to Getting Results discusses topics including, setting clear goals and holding people accountable to them, as well as hiring, developing, and retaining staff. Using real-world examples, Alison Green and Jerry Hauser teach skills of effective and sustainable management. This book is great for new and experienced nonprofit managers. Alison Green and Jerry Hauser’s book can be found here.

The Little Book of Gold: Fundraising for Small (and Very Small) Nonprofits

by Erik Hanberg

For those interested in fundraising, this short guide explores the basics of professional and sustainable fundraising for small nonprofits with small budgets. This book is perfect for leaders of small or developing organizations to understand the ins and outs of fundraising as well as building and managing budgets. You can find this book and the other books included in Erik Hanberg’s four-book series here.

Changing the World Without Losing Your Mind: Leadership Lessons from Three Decades of Social Entrepreneurship

by Alex Counts

Drawing on decades of experience, Alex Counts provides a down-to-earth guide on how to lead an effective and sustainable mission-driven organization without burning out. Focusing specifically on service-based organizations, Counts recalls personal stories and shares the framework for leading a successful team. More information can be found here.

Business Chemistry: Practical Magic for Crafting Powerful Work Relationships

by Kim Christfort and Suzanne Vickberg

Focused on professional relationships, Kim Christfort and Suzanne Vickberg’s Business Chemistry: Practical Magic for Crafting Powerful Work Relationships provides the reader with a framework for relationship building in the workplace. Christfort and Vickberg guide the readers to understand the differences between professional working styles and relationships. This book can be purchased here.

The Whole Language: The Power of Extravagant Tenderness

by Gregory Boyle

Gregory Boyle, the founder of Homeboy, one of the largest gang intervention organizations, shares personal stories about how his struggling community remained generous and hopeful while dealing with systematic poverty and violence. This book is great for professionals working in social justice-based nonprofits. Boyle shares personal stories about his community and his experiences founding Homeboy. The Whole Language: The Power of Extravagant Tenderness can be purchased on this webpage.

Other books we recommend include

Good to Great and the Social Sectors: Why Business Thinking is Not the Answer by Jim Collins can be found here.

The Why, What If, and How of Innovative Questioning: In A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger can be found here.

The Logic Model Guidebook by L. Knowlton & C. Phillips can be found here.

The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by Chip Heath and Dan Heath can be found here.

Dollar Dash: The Behavioral Economics of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising by Katrina VanHuss and Otis Fulton can be found here.

Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change by Timothy D. Wilson can be found here.

Check out our Fall Reading List!

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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