Running a nonprofit comes with many hurdles. Philanthropy and working in the social change environment is never easy. Leaders, philanthropists, volunteers, donors, and employees of nonprofits need inspiration at every step of the process towards changing the world. These books will provide practical, in-depth tips, tricks, and best practices on how to manage nonprofits, fundraise for your social change organization, manage volunteers, handle accounting for nonprofits, and do more.

Systems Thinking For Social Change

Systems Thinking for Social Change: A Practical Guide to Solving Complex Problems, Avoiding Unintended Consequences, and Achieving Lasting Results, is an excellent book for any nonprofit professional looking to make sense of social change programs and how to achieve maximum results of their social causes through systems thinking.

Written by David Peter Stroh, Systems Thinking For Social Change is written for nonprofit leaders, public policymakers, donors, and nonprofit professionals. The book centers on systems thinking and how the people and movers in the social change circles can leverage it for change. The writer achieves this by taking readers through the application of systems thinking to strategic planning, problem-solving in social change organizations, and decision making.

Here’s what a reviewer says about the book: “Systems thinking leader David Stroh walks readers through techniques he has used to help people improve their efforts to end homelessness, improve public health, strengthen education, design a system for early childhood development, protect child welfare, develop rural economies, facilitate the reentry of formerly incarcerated people into society, resolve identity-based conflicts, and more.”

Dare To Lead

While this book is not written purposely for the nonprofit and social change community, the leadership principles, practices, and examples given are great for nonprofit leaders looking to become great at their work.  Written by Brene Brown, Dare To Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts, dispels the notion that one has to be “strong” to be a leader.

Brown takes us deep into vulnerability, trust, values, and resilience, and how these qualities are the most important in shaping one into a great leader.  As LivingAsALeader reviews, “Brown has spent the past two decades researching vulnerability and shame. In Dare to Lead, she dispels myths about the modern-day workplace and shows us that true leadership is built upon vulnerability, values, trust, and resilience.

Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits

Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits, written by Leslie R. Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant, delves deeper into social impact organizations and how their causes impact society.

The authors spent three years studying and analyzing 12 of the most successful nonprofits in the recent history of the United States – to learn how these organizations conceptualize and implement innovative solutions to the most important societal problems. This is not just a book for nonprofit leaders, but for philanthropists, social change makers, and any professional working in the nonprofit sector. “Whether you’re a nonprofit leader, a philanthropist, a business executive, a donor, a volunteer, a board member—or simply interested in learning how to be a force for good—you’ll find something that inspires you to be an even more effective catalyst for lasting social change.” 

Nonprofit Management: Principles and Practice 

Written by  Michael J. Worth, Nonprofit Management: Principles and Practice, provides an in-depth look at important topics that nonprofit leaders face through their day-to-day management tasks. This spans different areas, including nonprofit leadership, fundraising, managing financials, social entrepreneurship, managing international and global organizations, advocacy and lobbying, earned income strategies, and more.

Michael J. Worth is a Professor of Nonprofit Management in the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at the George Washington University in Washington, DC, where he teaches graduate courses related to governing and managing nonprofit organizations and institutions and philanthropic fundraising.

Nonprofit Accounting for Volunteers, Treasurers, and Bookkeepers

Nonprofit organizations have to work with a lot of bookkeeping, treasury, and accounting everyday. Nonprofit professionals, volunteers, and managers often find themselves responsible for communicating accounting information to their various stakeholders – donors, employees, the public, government, and more.

The Nonprofit Accounting for Volunteers, Treasurers, and Bookkeepers, written by Lisa London is a book that teaches nonprofits how to establish best accounting practices, monitor the flow of money in their organizations, tracking grants, creating and managing donor reports, and filing proper nonprofit tax returns among many other.

Tax Planning and Compliance for Tax-Exempt Organizations: Rules, Checklists, Procedures

Nonprofits are exempt from taxes. But as a nonprofit, how do you deal with the ins and outs of the financial side of things and how do you keep books to reflect this? The Tax Planning and Compliance for Tax-Exempt Organizations: Rules, Checklists, Procedures, written by Jody Blazek, is a great book that provides excellent guidance on how nonprofits can deal with the ins and outs of their tax rules and regulations.

Beyond this, the book also provides practical, easy-to-follow tips, checklists, and exhibitions for nonprofits to seamlessly manage their tax exemption eligibility, tax compliance, reporting to the IRS, as well as an in-depth look at taxation for some special activities, such as the use of internet services, publishing, advertising, and more.

Responsive Fundraising

Fundraising is hard. But it’s one of the most effective source of income for nonprofits. So it’s on every nonprofit to take fundraising serious. Which is exactly why Responsive Fundraising: The donor-centric framework helping today’s leading nonprofits grow giving was written.

Through this book, author Gabe Cooper takes readers through the changing face of fundraising and modern fundraising, and how to leverage The Responsive Framework to not just get donors, but to also keep them as long-time contributors to your nonprofit’s causes. This book goes beyond just the theory, and makes sure that readers have access to plays and examples to practice and grow their fundraising knowledge.

Changing the World Without Losing Your Mind

Changing the World Without Losing Your Mind: Leadership Lessons from Three Decades of Social Entrepreneurship, written by Alex Counts, dives deeper into mission-driven leadership and how people can change the world without losing their minds.

“If there’s a shortcoming to the book, it’s that it tries to do too much, offering so many nuggets of wisdom and interesting anecdotes that you wish for a few more pages to get into the details, and a more navigable structure. Many of the lessons are embedded in stories, making it hard to scan when looking for practical advice, though there are several lists of “Favorite Tips,” which help succinctly organize advice for the reader by thematic categories.”

Good to Great and the Social Sectors

This is a great book for nonprofit employees, leaders, and philanthropists, as well as social change professionals. Good to Great and the Social Sectors: Why Business Thinking is Not the Answer, written by Jim Collins, takes readers through the ins and outs of the social sector and how nonprofits can change the world through their causes.

Here’s a quote from the author. “I don’t know if this monograph will prove interesting to everyone who reads it, but I do know that it results from my growing interest in the social sectors. My interest began for two reasons. First is the surprising reach of our work into the social sectors. I’m generally categorized as a business author, yet a third or more of my readers come from non-business. Second is the sheer joy of learning something new—in this case, about the challenges facing social sector leaders—and puzzling over questions that arise from applying our work to circumstances quite different from business.”

The Blue Sweater

On one hand, this book dives deep into the life of the author, Jacqueline Novogratz, who walked away from a credit analysis job at Chase Manhattan Bank to work on the humanitarian field, and on the other, also talks about the various ways of encouraging the poor from coming out of their current situations.

The Blue Sweater leverages stories and experiences from the author’s travels and work as founder of the Acumen Fund, a poverty alleviation venture capital fund, and a consultant for UNICEF – to depict how nonprofits and social change professionals and organizations should approach changing the world and reducing poverty.