27/09/2021 | Article | Gabrielle Gean

6 Books Every Nonprofit Leader Should Read

Above and beyond fundraising, nonprofit professionals wear several hats and juggle a variety of commitments. Donor-relationship development, organisational leadership, and how to make appeals stand out in the crowds are just a few of the skills that can help you succeed.

If you’re wondering where and how you can improve your fundraising skills, perhaps a little inspiration can help you!

We’ve gathered a list of the top 6 books we think any fundraisers or nonprofit professionals would enjoy.


1. Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis by Dean Spade

books for nonprofit leaders: mutual aid by dean spade, books for nonprofit leaders

Spade defines Mutual Aid as “collective coordination to meet each other’s needs, usually from an awareness that the systems we have in place are not going to meet them. These systems, in fact, have often created the crisis or are making things worse.” We believe this to be true, but that begs the question, is mutual aid the remedy?

As capitalism encourages us to look for the one-size-fits-all solution, community connection requires a more precise and detailed explanation. In this book, you’ll discover the effects of capitalism on our capacity to care for one another. We highly recommend this book because it helps us understand why the status quo in organising hasn’t been working despite our best.

2. From the Ground Up: Digital Fundraising for Nonprofits by Brock Warner, CRFE

books for nonprofit leaders: from the ground up: digital fundraising for nonprofits, by brock warner

Digital fundraising has become such a crucial role in the nonprofit world, especially now that we have physical distancing restrictions. Warner summarises and offers an overview of digital fundraising through a design thinking lens of tools, tactics, and platforms.

In his book, you’ll read about the step-by-step on how to map out an extensive digital fundraising programme that leverages technological changes. In addition, there are insightful guidelines for your digital marketing journey, including email marketing, websites that increase conversion rate, digital advertising and social media strategies, and more.

Whether you’re new to digital fundraising or a digital expert hoping to refresh your fundraising skills, this book is an essential handbook to bring your charity’s digital programmes up to speed.

3. Winning: The Five Truths of Fundraising by Rob Cummings

books for nonprofit leaders: winning: the five truths of fundraising, by rob cummings

Winning is a book that combines the author’s 42 years of fundraising experience with five truths that give insights, reminders, and encouragements to fundraisers. It is the opposite of most fundraising books – not full of charts and data but stories that demonstrate moments and strategies that most fundraisers often overlook.

As a fundraiser, storytelling is essential because you need to convey the messages clearly and connect with the audience. Cummings’s storytelling and writing style are marvellous. The way he outlines encouraging tales of frontline fundraising helps shape your storytelling skill. In addition, his delightful prose keeps it from feeling dry or academic. No matter what roles you serve in the nonprofit world, from novices to CEOs to volunteers, this is a book that should be on your shelf.

4. Forget All You Used to Know About Fundraising Events by Larry A. Zucker

books for nonprofit leaders: forget all you used to know about fundraising events, by larry a zucker

Forget All You Used to Know About Fundraising discusses the alternative source of revenue to Face-to-Face fundraising during and after the pandemic. The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has brought physical fundraising to a standstill. In this book, Zucker explores the best practices that can be adapted to a new environment of virtual and small events, as well as stories that inspire fundraisers to think creatively. The real-world scenarios, statistical analysis, and solutions are not a cheerful reading, but they are important and impossible to put down.

5. Robots Make Bad Fundraisers by Steven Shattuck

books for nonprofit leaders: robots make bad fundraisers, by steven shattuck

“The world has gone fully digital. Should the nonprofit sector?”

What can we say? It is a brilliant book. Shattuck analyses the entangled links between technology and donor relationship – how they must be complementary to create a more human-centred approach to fundraising.

This book will help you understand when to use digital automation, from practical tips to more sophisticated strategies and when not to. Also, we specifically love reading the real-life experiences Shattuck illustrates in the book – it’s relevant and fast-paced. If you’re planning to use technology to take your fundraising and donor management to the next level, this is a must-read as a starting point of building a more human digital experience.

6. Philanthropy Revolution by Lisa Z. Greer and Larissa Kostoff

books for nonprofit leaders: philanthropy revolution by lisa z greer

Written from the perspective of a donor and businesswoman, Geer shares her thoughts about the dos and don’ts of forming an effective relationship between funding sources and nonprofits. Philanthropy Revolution offers a no-nonsense sense of clarity and detailed insights into the complexities of what donors need before they donate. We find this interesting because fundraisers will better understand why some fundraising events or causes work and others don’t.

It’s a fresh and incisive read. This book will challenge you to rethink the modern-day philanthropic mechanism through Geer’s personal stories and philanthropy trends.

P.S. We also love the chapter when Geer explains how it’s like for a fundraiser to make a million-dollar donation – it is a rare and emotional feeling!

In Conclusion

Reading books can be a great way and even a great start to grow your skills. In fact, lifelong learning is strongly correlated with reading. Even if you read only one of these books in its entirety, it will be a real investment in your professional growth and will help make the work you do even more remarkable.

We’d love to know if you’ve read any of the books we mentioned above. Share with us your reviews in our LinkedIn comment section!

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