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Reading Recommendations for Your Non-Profit

Non-Profit Resources:

Books to Read

The non-profit segment of the U.S. economy is valued at over $1 trillion with significant growth over the last few decades.  There are now more books than ever to help non-profit entrepreneurs understand what works and what doesn’t and how non-profits differ in business practices from for-profit corporations.  Following are two recommendations.

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

Leslie R. Crutchfield & Heather McLeod Grant, 2008.


What makes great nonprofits great?

Not large budgets. Not snazzy marketing. Not perfect management. The answer is not what you might think. Leslie Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant spent four years surveying thousands of nonprofit CEOs, conducting hundreds of interviews, and studying 12 high-impact nonprofits to uncover their secrets to success. Their quest took them to the well-known (Habitat for Humanity), to the less-well-known (Self-Help) and to the unexpected (The Exploratorium). What the authors discovered surprised them, and is revealed in Forces for Good.


Forces for Good is a great read and does exactly what its title suggests, discusses effective practices for having a high-impact.  However, much of the work I do is with small, start-up non-profits generally 2 to 10 years old.  For these types of non-profit organizations, the practices will be good long term planning goals, but may not be operationally effective today.  It is a great road map.

Good to Great & the Social Sectors: Why Business Thinking is Not the Answer

Jim Collins, 2005


“We must reject the idea—well-intentioned, but dead wrong—that the primary path to greatness in the social sectors is to become “more like a business.” Most businesses—like most of anything else in life—fall somewhere between mediocre and good. Few are great. When you compare great companies with good ones, many widely practiced business norms turn out to correlate with mediocrity, not greatness…That’s when it dawned on me: we need a new language. The critical distinction is not between business and social, but between great and good. We need to reject the naive imposition of the “language of business” on the social sectors, and instead jointly embrace a language of greatness.”


Good to Great offers some basic practices that can be implemented in most organizations for achieving greatness.  It is about bringing your organizations into alignment with its mission and having all of the organization’s resources working cohesively to achieve great results.  If Forces for Good is the road map, Good to Great is the bus.

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