Books for Switching from Private to Nonprofit Sector

18 05 2009

One of the great things about the nonprofit sector is how collegial it is. After the last post about Finding That Nonprofit Career, I turned to colleagues on LinkedIn and asked them what books they would recommend to people contemplating the switch from the private sector. Especially helpful were colleagues in the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Chronicles of Philanthropy groups. I recommend that if this is a field you are interested in, you start watching the discussions on these two particular groups on LinkedIn.

One of the first to respond was my own business colleague, Jeff Metz of Bloom Consulting. Others were Andrew Brant, Sandra Larson, Ann Gwinn and Jeff Kern, all with experience in the nonprofit field, and almost all with prior experience in the private sector. Thanks to all for your assistance. Here’s the list developed from their contributions, and my own thoughts.

Managing the Non-Profit Organization: Principles and Practices from Peter Drucker is my own personal favorite. Several others also mentioned Drucker, who took his expertise researching and consulting to private firms into the nonprofit world. Other books originally written for the private sector are also important to the nonprofit world.  Two that others suggested are:

Managing as a Performance Art by Peter Vaill
Made to Stick by Heath & Heath

And I would add:
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell as a way of viewing the social dynamics in your organization.

Recommended books specific to nonprofits are:
Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations by John Bryson
Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision for Nonprofit Staff by Carter McNamara
Forces for Good by Crutchfield & Grant
The Executive Director’s Survival Guide by Carlson and Donohoe

Recommended publications specific to finding nonprofit careers:
The Idealist Guide to Nonprofit Careers for Sector Switchers
The Idealist Guide to Nonprofit Careers for First-time Job Seeker
s Both from idealist.org  

In the fundraising field – and so many positions in nonprofit work require some fundraising skills:
The Zen of Fundraising by Ken Burnett
Asking – A 59 minute guide by Jerold Panas
The Ask by Laura Fredricks
Major Gifts by Julia Ingraham Walker
Securing Your Organization’s Future by Michael Seltzer
Donor Centered Fundraising by Burke

And there was one textbook in the bunch:
Nature of the Nonprofit Sector by Ott

Thanks to everyone for being so helpful! And good luck to those making the switch.

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