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Nonprofit Management Books

Management is tough, especially under the stress of delivering a nonprofit's mission. Learning from others is crucial to being the best boss you can be, that's why we want to give you some of the best books you can take real lessons from.  


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

You must own this book. It captures in just 40 pages (yes… 40… so you have no excuse not to read it) the recipe for taking a good organization to the next level. There are infographics that will totally stick with you as you go about your day. And I guarantee you – you will become way more intentional about the hires you make and the board members you invite to join you.


Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business - John Mackey and Rajendra Sisodia

Whilst this seem a strange recommendation, John Mackey, founder of Whole Foods presents a great way to think through your vision as a business. There are valuable lessons about how to create a Win6 approach to benefit not just yourself but all the stakeholders you work with. Some of the philosophy of the book could be helpful to the nonprofit industry. 


Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die - Chip and Dan Heath

This is a must read. And an easy one. To me, the biggest takeaway for nonprofits is that leaders love their work and want everyone to love it. So they over-tell and try to cover everything. The Heath Brothers talk about cutting through the clutter and “the curse of knowledge” – we know so much about our organizations that we get into detail that listeners don’t understand. They say that we can’t un-know what we know so we have to transform how we communicate to those who don’t know about our work.


Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Manager's Guide to Getting Results - Alison Green

“No one has more constructive insight and real life experience in helping progressive managers build strong organizations that get results than Jerry Hauser and the team at The Management Center. I hope that every person who does, or aspires to, manage a progressive organization will read this book.”

 Rob Stein, Founder, Democracy Alliance


Joan Garry's Guide to Nonprofit Leadership: Because Nonprofits Are Messy - Joan Garry

Joan Garry’s Guide to Nonprofit Leadership will show you how to thrive. Funny, honest, intensely actionable, and based on her decades of experience, this is the book Joan Garry wishes she had when she led GLAAD out of a financial crisis in 1997. Joan will teach you how to:

  • Build a powerhouse board
  • Create an impressive and sustainable fundraising program
  • Become seen as a ‘workplace of choice’
  • Tell your stories in a way that inspires and invites people to participate
  • Be a compelling public face of your nonprofit


Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits - Leslie R. Crutchfield , McLeod Grant, and Heather J. Gregory Dees

Forces for Good blows away everything you thought you knew about what makes a great nonprofit tick. What Crutchfield and McLeod Grant didn't know, and what they came to realize through their research, was that highly effective nonprofits seldom fit our expectations of what a well-run organization should look like. Management structures in such organizations are far from perfect (and are sometimes chaotic); big ideas are less important than how those ideas are implemented; and an organization's size has no correlation to its ability to affect change.

Also, find out how the books principles can be applied to local and smaller nonprofits


Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around - Roberta Chinsky Matuson

Truly two books in one, Suddenly in Charge teaches readers how to manage down and establish credibility; it also demonstrates the success strategies necessary for managing up. The keys to reputation and career upkeep can be found in both sections, and readers will find it easy to flip back and forth in order to gain tailored advice.


Talent Magnetism: How to Build a Workplace That Attracts and Keeps the Best - Roberta Chinsky Matuson

In Talent Magnetism, Roberta Matuson, bestselling author of Suddenly in Charge, explains how to navigate the changing talent pool and the challenges of recruitment. The impact of extraordinary workers—ambitious, driven employees who are reliable under a tight deadline, are always seeking to improve, and consistently deliver results—is undisputed, and having such workers can determine a company’s success. With concrete tips and enlightening employee comments, Talent Magnetism is an invaluable guide to attracting and retaining the top talent that can transform your organization.