Valley Nonprofit Resources

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Book Reviews

Many books on nonprofit management and capacity building have been published. Following are brief descriptions of a few suggested by VNR (with no assumption that these are the best or most relevant for readers—there are many others). Prices are accurate as of posting.

Content Marketing for Nonprofits - 1st Edition Author: Kivi Leroux Miller, 2013.
This book discusses how to design and implement a content marketing strategy that will attract people to a cause, rather than begging for their attention or interrupting them with communications. Learn how to plan, create, share, and manage relevant and valuable content that inspires and motivates people to support a nonprofit in many different ways.  The book cost: $24.60 from Amazon. For more information and to purchase a copy of Content Marketing for Nonprofits on Amazon.

The Best of the Board Café - 2nd Edition Author: Jan Masaoka, 2009.
First published in 2005, this collection of CompassPoint online newsletter articles became instantly popular with busy board members of nonprofits. Now updated with new essays that are short enough to read over a cup of coffee, readers will find essential insights on board responsibilities, executive directors, fundraising, finance, and more. Published by Fieldstone Alliance (now Turner Publishing), the softcover edition is $27.32 Purchase a copy of Best of Board Café on Amazon.

Boards That Love Fundraising Authors: Robert M. Zimmerman, Ann W. Lehman, 2004.
A workbook that provides information on board structure and its impact on raising money, describes methods nonprofits use, and shows how to recruit board members who can help with fundraising. For more information and to purchase, go to: Boards That Love Fundraising

Boomer Volunteer Engagement: Collaborate Today, Thrive Tomorrow Authors: Jill Friedman Fixler with Sandie Eichberg and Gail Lorenz, 2008.
Nonprofits face increased demand for services despite decreased budgets. Meanwhile, more than 78 million baby boomers have work experience and talent to spare. Furthermore, newly retired boomers are interested in leaving a social legacy through volunteerism. More also are flocking to nonprofits because they are unemployed due to the recession. They want to share their skills and make meaningful contributions during unemployment or retirement. This convergence is an opportunity for organizational capacity-building through the utilization of baby boomers' skills, talents, and circles of influence. To learn more visit Boomer Volunteer Engagement: Collaborate Today, Thrive Tomorrow on Amazon dot com.

Building Nonprofit Capacity: A Guide to Managing Change Through Organizational Lifestyles. Authors: John Brothers and Anne Sherman, 2011. 
This book discussed the natural life cycle of a nonprofit from adolescence, impact expansion, and decline to (either) turnaround or closing. The authors compare nonprofits that expand quickly, high arc, with those that grow steadily over time, low arc, to demonstrate how to survive the decline phase (and turnaround). This will require different strategies depending on the organization's expansion model. Interviews with nonprofit entrepreneurs, founders, and directors provide an array of success stories and cautionary tales. Perhaps best of all is how they demonstrate ways to keep board members connected to the work and staff, as well as maintain a passion for the mission, through the nonprofit's changing lifecycles. Among their useful insights is "founder's syndrome... not just for founders anymore." Order from Amazon for $34. Building Nonprofit Capacity

The Complete Guide to Nonprofit Management. Author: Smith, Bucklin & Associates, Inc., 2000.
Addresses the unique concerns of nonprofit organizations. Cutting through the morass of mere theory, Smith, Bucklin & Associates, Inc., a leading nonprofit management firm, gets right to actual practice with dozens of real-world examples and case studies, and up-to-date, vital, "combat-tested" strategies and techniques for dealing with virtually every nonprofit business management issue. Available from Amazon. The Complete Guide to Nonprofit Management.

Executive Directors Guide: The Guide for Successful Nonprofit Management. Authors: Deborah Linnell, Zora Radosevich and Jonathan Spack.
Has practical, real world information to help executive directors create and sustain healthy, effective organizations. Cost is $29.95. For more information, please visit TSNE Mission Works website.

The Expanding Universe: New Directions in Nonprofit Capacity Building. Authors: Thomas E. Backer, Jane Ellen Bleeg & Kathryn Groves, 2004.
This research study looks into the leading edge of capacity-building work, highlighting new strategies in strengthening nonprofit organizations via intermediaries, grantmakers, community-based nonprofits and individual philanthropists. To download a free copy, click on: Expanding Universe

Fearless Fundraising For Nonprofit Boards, Second Edition 
This book provides input on how to motivate and empower a nonprofit board to get wholeheartedly involved in fundraising. This completely updated version of one of BoardSource's best-selling books explains how board members, development officers, and chief executives can clarify the process of successful fundraising, target and approach potential funders, and more. Member price $30, nonmember price $40. For more information and to order, please visit the BoardSource Bookstore.

Financial Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards, Second Edition. Author: Andrew S. Lang, 2009. 
This book uses nontechnical language to help board members gain a basic understanding of their financial oversight responsibilities, giving them a starting point for comprehending key financial data. Print: $19 members/ $29 nonmembers E-book: $13 members/ $19 nonmembers For more information and to purchase, please visit the BoardSource Bookstore.

Forces For Good: The Six Practices of High Impact Nonprofits. Authors: Leslie R. Crutchfield & Heather McLeod Grant, 2007. 
This book describes how great nonprofits achieve extraordinary social impact. What makes great nonprofits great? Authors Crutchfield and McLeod Grant searched for the answer over several years, employing a research methodology which derived from books on for-profits like Built to Last. They studied 12 nonprofits that have achieved extraordinary levels of impact-from Habitat for Humanity to the Heritage Foundation-and distilled six counterintuitive practices that these organizations use to change the world. This book has lessons for all readers interested in creating significant social change, including nonprofit managers, donors and volunteers. Price is $29.95. To order go to: Forces for Good: The Six Practices for High-Impact Nonprofits.

Generations: The Challenge of a Lifetime for Your Nonprofit. Author: Peter C. Brinckerhoff, 2007. 
This book deals with what happens when the management team of a nonprofit of baby boomers leaves within a five-year period. The book identifies what generational changes to expect and how to plan for them. There is information for each area of an organization - staff, board, volunteers, clients, marketing, technology, and finances. To purchase a copy, please visit the Amazon dot com website.

Good to Great and the Social Sectors. Author: James Collins, 2005.
Best-selling management writer Jim Collins, author of the well-known Good to Great, has adapted the principles of that business book to the social sector. It is based on interviews and workshops with over 100 social sector leaders, and is intended to accompany Good to Great, which outlines how great companies grow, how they attain superior performance, and how good companies can become great companies. Available from Amazon dot com.

Grant Proposal Makeover: Transform Your Request From No to Yes. Author: Cheryl A. Clarke & Susan P. Fox
This book can help nonprofits transform "ugly duckling" grant proposals into persuasive winners. It illustrates common flaws in proposal-writing and shows how to fix them. The book also incorporates opinions from "the other side of the desk" by including helpful tips and quotes from foundation program officers and others from the funding community. The price is Hardcover, $29.95, Paperback $19.77. To purchase, go to: Amazon dot com.

Insiders Guide to Outside Advice. Author: Grand Victoria Foundation, 2006.
This short book can help nonprofits make better use of consultants, using a simple four-step process. It includes tools to help with screening and interviewing consultants. Download a copy at the Grand Vicotoria website.

Leadership is an Art Author: Max DePree, 2004.
Written by the then CEO of Herman Miller, Inc., the great design and furniture manufacturing company, this small but powerful book clearly and simply puts forth the notion of the value of “servant leadership” as well as the notion of the “curious” manager.  It applies to nonprofit as well as for-profit organizations and their leaders. Purchase a copy of Leadership is an Art.     

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. Authors: Chip and Dan Heath, 2007.
Drawing extensively on psychological studies of memory, emotion and motivation, this book explores "stickiness"—the art of making ideas unforgettable. The authors set forth six principles that make ideas "stick"—simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotions and stories. These principles are illustrated with a host of both dramatic and humorous stories. Sidebars throughout the book show how bland messages can be made intriguing. Available from Amazon dot com.

Managing the Nonprofit Organization. Author: Peter Drucker, 2006
The nonprofit sector is growing rapidly, creating a major need for expert advice on how to manage these organizations effectively. Management legend Peter Drucker provides excellent examples and explanations of mission, leadership, resources, marketing, goals, and much more. Interviews with nine experts also address key issues in this booming sector. Available from Amazon dot com.

Networks That Work: A Practitioner's Guide to Managing Networked Action. Author: Paul Vandeventer, 2008.
Groups engaged in collective action arise everywhere, from the joint efforts of the nation's largest philanthropies to cross-sector endeavors with governmental bodies, corporations and non-profit organizations. Coalitions, collaboratives, alliances—what does it take for organizations and institutions resorting to networked action to truly fulfill their shared purposes? Drawing from experience and case examples, this book provides guidance about how groups operating in networks can succeed. The author covers a range of issues people joining forces with other organizations should consider before involving themselves in networks, when they become network members, and as they pursue work together with other stakeholders. The author draws upon his experience leading Community Partners, a Southern California nexus where philanthropic funding, capacity building, social entrepreneurship and community development come together. Community Partners serves multiple roles— fiscal sponsor, program office, and civic intermediary—facilitating civic action for the common good. Find a more detailed summary of the book and on-line ordering information at Community Partners website.

The Nonprofit Strategy Revolution: Real-Time Strategic Planning in a Rapid-Response World. Author: David La Piana, 2008. 
This book offers an alternative to traditional strategic planning. In addition to new ideas for how to form strategies, it provides the tools and framework needed to infuse strategic thinking throughout an organization. By using this approach, a nonprofit can be more strategic in thought and action on a daily basis, without subjecting board and staff to the traditional strategic planning marathon. For more information and to order, please visit the Amazon dot com product page.

Nonprofit Sustainability: Making Strategic Decisions for Financial Viability Authors: Jeanne Bell, Jan Masaoka & Steve Zimmerman, 2010. 
This book offers nonprofit executives and board members a simple yet powerful framework for analyzing and adjusting their business models for greater organizational sustainability. It introduces the Matrix Map, a practical tool for determining the current impact and financial performance of core programs and fundraising activities. For more information and to order, please visit the Amazon dot com product page.

PBP Executive Reports specializes in executive reports designed to help time-pressed nonprofit executive directors and managers hone and polish the skills they need most. They are fast-read, actionable, and contain strategies that can help managers improve the performance of their organization. They include reports on every aspect of business including human resources, finance and management. Read more about these reports at the PBP Executive Reports website.

Seven Turning Points: Leading Through Pivotal Transitions in Organizational Life Author: Susan Gross, 2009. 
This book, published by Fieldstone Alliance, is intended for nonprofits undergoing significant management change. The author, an organization development consultant, devotes each chapter to a turning point most nonporifts face and ends each one with a summary that lists the signs that change is needed, changes that must be made, and what tensions can arise as a result of the transition process. For example, when a longtime chief executive steps down, charities should think about hiring from the outside for a fresh perspective and avoid placing the departing leader on the organization's board for at least a few years. The author cautions that any adjustments are neither permanent nor quick and that someone must serve as a catalyst for change, be it an individual or a group. For more information and to order, please visit the Amazon dot com product page.

Strategic Planning for Nonprofit Organizations, 2nd Edition Author: Michael Allison and Jude Kaye, 2003. 
This book provides expert knowledge and tools to develop and implement strategic plans, including worksheets, checklists, and tables-in print and on the companion CD-ROM-along with a book-length case study that shows strategic planning in action. For more information and to order, go to: Strategic Planning for Nonprofit Organizations.

Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations: A Guide to Strengthening and Sustaining Organizational Achievement Author: John M. Bryson, 2011. 
This book provides a practical theory of how to accomplish the political work of leading organizations through strategic change. The theory is a comprehensive synthesis of research on strategic planning and management. Available from Amazon for $45. Strategic Planning for Nonprofit Organizations.

Trouble at the Top: The Nonprofit Board's Guide to Managing an Imperfect Chief Executive Author: Katha Kissman, 2011. 
This book, published by Boardsource, provides tips, techniques and advice on what a board should do when the chief executive of a nonprofit is being uncooperative, or inefficient. To read an excerpt and for ordering information, go to: Trouble at the Top.

Understanding Nonprofit Financial Statements, Third Edition Author: Steven Berger, 2008. 
This comprehensive text helps to quickly understand complicated financial concepts so that board members are equipped to perform legal and fiduciary responsibilities, to set realistic financial goals, and to evaluate an organization's performance. It also includes downloadable content with a ready-made presentation designed to help the entire board understand and review the organization's finances. For more information and to order, please visit the Amazon dot com product page.

Working Across Generations: Defining the Future of Nonprofit Leadership. Authors: Frances Kunreuther, Helen Kim & Robby Rodriguez, 2008. 
Published by Kim Klein's Chardon Press, this book provides fresh perspectives and advice on how to work across generational divides to maximize opportunities that will come with future changes in the nonprofit work force. The book highlights research findings, real-life stories, and case examples from across the country. It offers recommendations on how individuals, organizations, and the nonprofit sector can all have a role in paving the way for more vibrant and expansive sector leadership. Available from