Best Books For Starting A Nonprofit

My idea to publish a list of exceptionally useful nonprofit leadership books came from the course I teach at U Penn’s Annenberg School on Nonprofit Communications Strategy. Every year, I say to my students throughout the last course, “If nonprofit leaders – board and staff – read the very same material you did this spring, the nonprofit sector would be infinitely more civil, impactful and also reliable.”

And so here you will find two lists. First, my height 5 nonprofit leadership books. Then what I’m calling “Honorable Mention.” I asked a few friends and also clients to suggest a management book to me that was important in helping them to come to be even more effective nonprofit leaders.

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Even if you grab only among these and check out it in its entirety, it will be a genuine investment in your expert expansion and will certainly assist make the work-related you perform also even more remarkable.

And through no additionally ado…


1. Good to Great and also the Social Sectors

by Jim Collins

You must very own this book. It captures in simply 40 pages (yes… 40… so you have no excuse not to read it) the recipe for taking a good organization to the following level. There are infographics that will completely stick through you as you go about your day. And I guarantee you – you will come to be way more intentional around the hires you make and the board members you invite to sign up with you.

2. Give and Take

by Adam Grant

This is bigger than just your duty as a leader. It’s a book around that you want to be in the world. Grant identifies three kinds of world – ‘givers,’ ‘ takers,’ and also ‘matchers.’ Those that give generously and easily of their time and also expertise might not begin out as the most successful however they finish up at the peak. They learn by solving others’ problems and they construct extrasimple social resources. This one is a good staff offsite review or a gift for your senior team or board chair.

3. Changing Minds

by Howard Gardner

Gardner is a groundbreaking educator that teaches us that we each have actually multiple intelligences that result in various learning styles and also a diversity of skills across culture. He understands how the mind works and therefore what it takes to adjust a mind. This is the job-related of the nonprofit sector – to move someone to consider somepoint differently so that it matters in a new means to them. Don’t be daunted by just how lengthy ago it was composed. Trust me – favor all excellent management publications must be – this one is evergreen.

4. Difficult Conversations

by Stone, Patton, and Heen

In my work as a consultant, I discover myself completing with dispute. A LOT. Not simply with those in opplace to the mission yet within institutions themselves. Amongst staff members, in between staff and board. This led me to become a certified mediator and likewise to this book.

First off, many type of of us are in the business of talking about tough topics (can you say Planned Parenthood or any type of organization that hregarding perform with race, gender, politics, faith, homosexuality – just to name a few). Secondly, I uncover oh so frequently that managers simply don’t have actually hard conversations through staff and also are reluctant to hold them accountable in ways that feel difficult.

This book teases out the WHY yet then also is incredibly actionable for both the interior and the external challenging conversations much too many folks stop because of a lack of tools. Tools await you in this book.

5. Made to Stick

by Dan and also Chip Heath 

This is a should review. And a simple one. To me, the biggest takeaway for nonrevenues is that leaders love their work-related and desire everyone to love it. So they over-tell and also try to cover everything. The Heath Brothers talk about cutting with the clutter and “the curse of knowledge” – we recognize so much about our institutions that we gain into information that listeners don’t understand. They say that we can’t un-know what we recognize so we have to transcreate exactly how we interact to those that don’t understand around our occupational.

See more: Contact


A quick survey discovered five even more management books you need to recognize around. Heck, some of them are brand-new to ME. I’m ordering them on Amazon appropriate currently.

6. Start via Why

by Simon Sinek

Many leaders begin by talking around what their company does. But Sinek argues it’s not the what or the exactly how that drives excellent staff candidates, 5 star board prospects or donors. It’s the why. Sinek gave a good TED talk if you don’t have actually time to review the full book.

Recommfinished by Dana Weeks at Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia.

7. It’s Your Ship

by Mike Abrashoff

I’ve actually never heard of this one, created by the former US Navy captain of the USS Benfold. His valuable recipe? Lead by example; listen aggressively; communicate function and meaning; develop a climate of trust; look for outcomes, not salutes; take calculated risks; go beyond standard procedure; develop up your people; generate unity; and also enhance your people’s quality of life. Sounds prefer a good nonprofit leader to me.

Recommended by Kevin Jennings, CEO of the Arcus Foundation.

8. Getting Things Done

by David Allen

One of the greatest productivity books of the last 2 years, I’ve included this to the list. That said, I haven’t check out it and feel cynical sindicate bereason the subhead reads: The Art of Stress Free Productivity. It may seem unattainable in a nonprofit establishing, but my oh my, isn’t it worth a shot?

Recommfinished by Mark Pelavin at the Union for Redevelop Judaism.

9. How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work

by Kegan and also Lahey

I am so ordering this book, which tackles the natural humale resistance to readjust. One reader wrote, “Many of the time, once confronted to change, a little voice inside us will tell us why not to readjust.” The authors compose that this voice speaks through 7 tongues. One can also say that these “voices” make us immune to change. Luckily, for each of the 7 languages, this book uses a powerful antidote.” I’m completely intrigued.

Recommfinished by Parisa Parsa, the E.D. of The Public Conversations Project in Boston.

10. Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization

by Logan, King, and also Fisher-Wright

A 10-year research of 24,000 human being in two-dozen establishments revealed that within these organizations exist sepaprice tribes. That’s certainly been my suffer. This book is a distinctive look at high-performance business societies. 

Recommended by Glennda Testone, ED of the LGBT Center in NYC


Ok, so this wasn’t in my original list. But I’d be remiss to not mention MY new book.