Have You Read Any Good Books Lately?

Wise fundraising professionals, nonprofit managers, consultants, and volunteers, often seek out the latest, greatest ideas, and have an interest in stories that can inspire.

If you are like many in the nonprofit world, you read books to discover the ways to generate improved results or to find inspiration.

Bookworm by PMillera4 via FlickrNow, I invite you to share the favorite book(s) you’ve read in the past year. Please use the “Leave a Reply” section below to provide the title and author of any fundraising, nonprofit management, or philanthropy book that you found particularly worthwhile to read. The book you recommend can be either a classic or a new title.

The objective here is to build a list of worthwhile books we should all consider adding to our 2014 reading lists.

By recommending a book here, you’ll get three benefits:

1. You’ll have the pleasure of helping your nonprofit brothers and sisters find worthwhile material that can help them and their organizations.

2. You’ll be entered into a drawing to win a free copy of my bestselling book, Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing. I’m honored to have won the AFP/Skystone Prize for Research in Fundraising and Philanthropy for this book. In addition, I’m pleased that my book has been placed on the CFRE International Resource Reading List because my goal was to get this valuable, practical information to as many people as possible. If you already have a copy (Thank you!), I’ll donate the winning copy to your favorite charity. One winner will be randomly selected on January 10, 2014.

3. You’ll have the satisfaction of having your selected book(s) listed in the “Readers Recommend” section at The Nonprofit Bookstore where it can help even more people. The Nonprofit Bookstore is an e-store created on Amazon to feature some of the best books for the sector. The store is updated often, so be sure to visit regularly. A portion of each purchase on this site is donated to charity.

For books that inspire and get results, you can find The Nonprofit Bookstore at http://astore.amazon.com/mlinn-20.

So, what useful, informative, impactful book(s) do you think folks should add to their 2014 reading lists?

That’s what Michael Rosen says… What do you say?


UPDATE (Feb. 11, 2014): The winner of the drawing for a free copy of  Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing is Pete Stroble, President of the British Transportation Museum (Ohio). For more information, click here.

31 Responses to “Have You Read Any Good Books Lately?”

  1. Donor Centered Leadership by Penelope Burk

    • Karen, thank you for the recommendation. Penelope Burk’s previous book, Donor Centered Fundraising, is one of my favorites. It even inspired the theme for my own book. Her latest book is also researched based thereby providing some of concrete insights.

  2. For Canadian fundraisers in particular, I recommend the following:

    The Vigilant Fundraiser
    Fundraising Excellence in Canada

    In the case of both of these books, each chapter is written by a fundraising expert within Canada so offer a wealth of knowledge and perspective.

    • Liz, thank you for the recommendations. While there is a great deal of common ground between US and Canadian fundraising, some differences do exist. So, it’s very nice to have some book recommendations with a Canadian perspective.

  3. Not necessarily a book on philanthropy, but an excellent book about storytelling and living a better life is A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story. This book is inspirational, and I believe could really motivate a donor.

  4. I don’t know: In Praise of Admitting Ignorance (Except When You Shouldn’t)

    While our donors look to us so frequently as having “all of the answers,” I strongly recommend this book. Here is the Amazon review:

    “In a tight, enlightening narrative, Leah Hager Cohen explores why, so often, we attempt to hide our ignorance, and why, in so many different areas, we would be better off coming clean. Weaving entertaining, anecdotal reporting with eye-opening research, she considers both the ramifications of and alternatives to this ubiquitous habit in arenas as varied as education, finance, medicine, politics, warfare, trial courts, and climate change. But it’s more than just encouraging readers to confess their ignorance—Cohen proposes that we have much to gain by embracing uncertainty. Three little words can in fact liberate and empower, and increase the possibilities for true communication. So much becomes possible when we honor doubt.”

  5. Fundraising for Social Change, by Kim Klein. For the nonprofit who can’t think of any way to raise money besides writing another grant proposal.

    • Dennis, thank you for the recommendation. You mean there are other ways to raise money besides grant proposals. 🙂 Actually, I was on the board of a social service agency that relied almost completely on private and government grant as well as government contracts. After we diversified the fundraising program, great things began to happen. The organization is now in a vastly larger facility, with a dramatically increased staff. Most importantly, they are now serving almost 100 percent of those in need in the community, up from almost 50 percent!!!

  6. Getting to Giving: Fundraising the Entrepreneurial Way by Howard Stevenson with Shirley Spence.

  7. Over at LinkedIn, I posted a link to this post in a number of discussion Groups. I received some responses over there that I thought I would cross post below in alphabetical order of LinkedIn Group:

    Bestow Community:

    “Greg Hammond’s and Ron Ware’s You Can Do More That Matters is a good, quick read for pros in the field to give to their clients about the joys of giving. To relax, try Billy Collins’ new book of poetry, Aimless Love, or Robert Pinsky’s Singing School.” — recommended by Jonathan Spinner

    FundRaising — a subgroup of Non-Profit Marketing:

    “A few months ago, I finished Linda Lysakowski’s Capital Campaigns book. It helped us organize our first major appeal. I’ve been reading Good to Great by Jim Collins. He believes that being self-disciplined and building this into your group’s culture trumps a dynamic leader. Just starting Primal Leadership by Daniel Goleman to help me with my skill set. As a retired engineer, leading an all volunteer nonprofit, I’ve got a steep learning curve ahead of me.” — recommended by Pete Stroble

    Non-Profit Marketing:

    Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits by Crutchfield and Grant is an excellent book. Based on a body of mind-opening research conducted and initially released about seven years ago, they have recently updated the book. A must-read for those who want to expand their thinking about nonprofits and break some of the dysfunctional paradigms currently existing in the minds of nonprofits and their boards.” — recommended by Kae Groshong Wagner

    Bible best book ever!” — recommended by Mark Gay

    Smart Planned Giving Marketers:

    “Just finished The Fundraiser’s Guide to Irresistible Communications by Jeff Brooks. Really straight-forward, practical, easy-to-read advice!” — recommended by Greg Warner

    “Just finished Boys in the Boat detailing the Gold Medal win by USA 8 man rowing team in 1936 Olympics. The inspiration is found in the young men’s determination in midst of difficulty. Oh, there is also a bit of fundraising in that after qualifying to represent the USA, they were told they had to raise all their own expenses in just a few days.” — recommended by Lee Jantzen CFP® CAP® FCEP

    “I read Daniel Pink’s book, To Sell is Human, and found it very stimulating — all of us are in sales of some sort, and the stereotypical used car salesman isn’t the model for today. I also read his book, Drive, the Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us. It was also terrific.” — recommended by Cathy Kushner

    I thank everyone for their recommendations.

  8. I recommend Tell It Like It Is – Truisms of Fundraising by Chris Rollins. Rollins first book offers a proven, straightforward approach to fund development.

  9. Hey Michael,

    This is a fascinating list that your readers are providing. Any way to have a summary blog post in the future that’s easy to read with links to Amazon? I’d love that resource!

    Happy New Year!

    • John, thank you for your suggestion. Once I receive the book suggestions here, I’ll be posting those recommendations to the “Readers Recommend” section at The Nonprofit Bookstore. This is my sponsored corner of Amazon where a portion of every purchase will go to charity. In addition to the “Readers Recommend” section, I’ll be building other sections including one for the “CFRE Resource Reading List.” The Nonprofit Bookstore has been designed to make it easy for folks to find books that inspire and get results at a reasonable price via Amazon. In the future, I’ll also be posting the recommended titles and their specific links via my Twitter feed. So, folks will be able to find the books via the direct link I provide via Twitter or by browsing the “Readers Recommend” section. I’ll update this post once the titles have been uploaded to The Nonprofit Bookstore at Amazon.

  10. I received the following book recommendation via Twitter:

    Uncharitable by Dan Pallotta — recommended by Delinda Lombardo.

  11. Tom Ahern’s latest, Making Money with Donor Newsletters.

  12. Anything by Chip and Dan Heath. My fundraising mentor gifted Decisive and Made to Stick to me recently. They give a modern spin and well researched nuggets on how to market to humans in a digital era, using tried and true marketing theory.

  13. Mega Gifts – Who Gives Them – Who Gets Them by Jerold Panas. This is an all-time classic. Should I assume everyone has read it? I have read it several times, and each time I glean new insight. Great motivational stories especially for “road-warrior” fundraisers (myself included) who can sometimes get immersed in minutia (even though details are certainly important) and thus lose sight of purpose.

    • Michelle, thank you for your book recommendation. Jerold Panas has authored several books on fundraising. How he finds the time is beyond me. I suspect he doesn’t watch much television. 🙂 I’m glad to know which of his books you particularly value.

  14. With Charity for All by Ken Stern – a good read with lots of stories about what is right and what is wrong with our system of nonprofits.


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