Summer Reading List for Nonprofit Pros

As the pages of the calendar turn to June, our thoughts turn to fiscal year-end (for many nonprofits) and summer vacations.

In addition to the latest from Steel, Grishman, or Clancy, I want to add my suggestions for your summer reading list. Yes, I know…you want to disconnect from work during the summer. Sure, that’s reasonable. But we eventually have to plug back in. And here are three books that I think might help recharge your intellectual batteries.


Social Movements For Good by Derrick Feldmann

Most of us in the nonprofit sector want to drive change in our communities. And more and more, successful corporate leaders understand that their businesses have a role in driving that same change.

IMG_5510 2According to the book’s website, Social Movements for Good “is a guidebook for driving change by taking advantage of the social “currency” that makes movements go viral. Derrick Feldmann shares secrets and stories from today’s most successful social good movements. You’ll learn about the leaders behind these movements, the individuals who responded, and the approaches that made it work. Modern social movements operate within a new paradigm, and this informative guide walks you through how these movements are created, why people get on board, and the strategy and support network that must be in place for it to succeed.”

I had the chance to meet Derrick Feldman earlier this year when we brought him in to keynote the PhilanthropyMiami conference I co-curated. He understands social movements extremely well. He’s also one of the leading authorities on the millennial generation as the author of the Millennial Impact Report.

Data Driven Nonprofits by Steve MacLaughlin

I’ll admit that this one is a bit wonky for summer reading, but it’s so important. Just in the past couple of months, I’ve worked with several successful nonprofits that are making fundraising decisions in the dark.IMG_3505

One was setting membership goals without any historical data. They had no idea what their retention rate, no idea of their upgrade rate. In fact, they couldn’t even tell me how many members they had in each category just three years ago.

Another client is in a similar situation. They dump all of their names from house files and rental lists into the same mailing and have no clue how any of those segments are performing.

McLaughlin’s book, which came out in 2016, helps nonprofit leaders tap the potential in their data. (He’s from Blackbaud, and for sure, those people understand data.)

For any nonprofit professional looking to improve results, this is a must-read.

New Power by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms.

Brand new to bookshelves is New Power. According to the book jacket,IMG_2571 the authors “confront the biggest stories of our time — the rise of mega-platforms like Facebook and Uber, the out-of-nowhere victories of Obama and Trump; the unexpected emergence of movements like #MeToo — and reveal what’s really behind them: the rise of “new power.”

I haven’t read this one yet; it just arrived in my mailbox from Amazon the other day. But I’m looking forward to understanding cultural movements of our day like #BlackLivesMatter and the Ice Bucket Challenge, to understand why they have been so impactful.

New Power is written by Jeremy Heimans, the co-founder and CEO of Purpose, an organization that builds and supports social movements around the world, and Henry Timms, the successful CEO of the 92nd Street Y in New York City. I recently read a profile of Timms and his innovations at the Y. He seems impressive, so I’m looking forward to this read (as I write this, I’m preparing for a flight to California — this book is coming with me.)

Happy reading!

Glenn is a fundraising strategist who loves working with small- to mid-size organizations that want to innovate and grow. Check out his website at, and to find out how he can help you, email him at You can follow him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. He’s also the author of the forthcoming House Party: How to Turn a Home Into a Powerful Fundraising Tool.

Cover photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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