7 Book Recommendations for Not-for-Profit Leaders
Curling up in a blanket by the fireplace with some hot cocoa and a great book is one of the most relaxing ways to spend a winter afternoon. To help prepare for potential downtime over the holidays, the AICPA Not-for-Profit Section polled staff and volunteers to pull together a list of recommended page turners that will help invigorate you for the year ahead. Here are our top picks:
Jennifer Brenner, Controller, World Vision recommends
- Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman (2013)
This is a must-read for financial professionals to better understand different leadership styles and become an effective leader. The leadership teams at most not-for-profits are comprised of individuals from diverse backgrounds. For example, board chairs and executive teams may come from academia, scientific research, public policy or the medical field, and may not necessarily have a corporate or business background. This book affirms the importance of emotionally intelligent leadership and illustrates leadership that is self-aware, motivating and collaborative.
- The Best of Boards: Sound Governance and Leadership for Nonprofit Organizations by Kimberly Strom-Gottfried and Marci Thomas (2011)
Strom-Gottfried and Thomas provide advice for both novice and seasoned board members, share valuable fiduciary and ethical guidance and offer tips for not-for-profit managers dealing with governance challenges. I highly recommend this book for not-for-profit board members and finance managers in particular.
Jennifer Dorff, AICPA Marketing Manager—Not-for-Profit and Tax Section recommends
- Strength Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath (2007)
Strength Finder 2.0 helps individuals find their talents and change the way we think about ourselves. We are constantly receiving performance reviews where there is a focus on weaknesses, but what if we focused on our strengths and natural talents? Our department took the test, and charted our talents to help us understand our abilities as individuals and as a team. A truly enlightening read!
Sandi Matthews, Technical Manager, AICPA Not-for-Profit Section recommends
- Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community by Robert D. Putnam (2000)
Putnam draws on a vast array of facts, figures and surveys to chart behavioral patterns and analyze trends charting a steep decline in Americans’ engagement in their communities. Putnam’s research provides insights essential for community organizers, civic leaders and individuals to build trust and strengthen communities. I also recommend Putnam’s sequel Better Together: Restoring the American Community (2004), for its inspiring stories of activists who are bringing people together to make a difference.
Agnes McIntosh, Director, ARC Services recommends
- The Non Nonprofit: For-Profit Thinking for Nonprofit Success by Steve Rothschild (2012)
Not-for-profit leaders who are new at their leadership role (or even those who are simply seeking a change) will find valuable, practical information in this book. It outlines seven best practices for creating a financially sustainable and socially responsible organization.
Heather O’Connor, AICPA Senior Manager—Communications recommends
- The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander (2002)
Running a not-for-profit requires vision, purpose and optimism. This book helps readers break through the mental mind blocks that hold us back and instead focus on opportunities and the steps to achieve them. Co-author Ben Zander draws on his own experience at not-for-profits such as the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra to help readers realize that tapping into possibility can transform individuals, organizations and constituents. I was truly inspired by the stories shared in this book and with the authors’ encouragement to be open to possibility.
Alexis Rothberg, AICPA Communications Manager recommends
- Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t by Jim Collins (2001)
Although this book was published 15 years ago, I find it is still relevant today. Collins and his research team studied 28 companies over the course of five years in order to determine what led 11 of them to leap from good to great. One characteristic shared by the 11 great company leaders was level 5 leadership— humility and an intense drive to do what is best for the company.
Will you be taking any books with you on your holiday travels? Do you have any favorites that have benefited your work or professional development? Post a comment or email my team: NFPSection@aicpa.org.
Person reading by fireplace courtesy of Shutterstock
Sandi Matthews, CPA, CGMA, Technical Manager- Not-for-Profit Section, American Institute of CPAs.