6 Great Summer Reads for Fundraisers
Summer is a perfect time to catch up on good books. Not only salacious romance novels and suspenseful mysteries, but also reading that can advance your skills, career and overall perspective. Looking for a management page-turner? A book about a nonprofit pioneer that you just can’t put down?
I was too. I asked some colleagues for their suggestions and was pleased by the excitement each had to discuss what’s on their nightstand or in their beach bag. Here are the top six picks:
1. “Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong”
Recommended by Geoff Handy, senior VP of marketing and communications, The Humane Society of the United States
Author Eric Barker applies social psychology, behavioral economics and other science to the topic of being successful. By looking at what distinguishes extremely successful individuals from the crowd, he teaches what we can do to be more like them. With findings supported with extensive research, his stories really stay with you. And as a bonus: It’s actually funny.
2. “The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company”
Recommended by Phyllis Caudill, associate VP, Christian Appalachian Project
We often turn to the commercial world for lessons to apply to nonprofits. Phyllis Caudill recommended author Joseph Michelli saying his book “truly captures the leadership secrets behind the Ritz-Carton’s success.” Michelli also provides practical advice on how any organization can build superior customer-service principles, processes and practices.
3. “Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age”
Recommended by Jason McNeal, partner, Gonser Gerber
This book tackles the critical issue of technology and how it’s changing the face of relationships—and not for the better. Author Sherrie Turkle tells not only a cautionary tale, but details how you can make time for face-to-face conversation. Hint: Put away your phone. Consider this an important topic about donors and how we interact with them.
4. “Drop the Ball: Achieving More By Doing Less”
Recommended by Katy Jordan, VP of integrated marketing, CDR Fundraising Group
A new mom, my CDR colleague Katy Jordan recommended “Drop the Ball” saying, “This book is timely for me as I transition to life as a working mom who tries to ‘do it all.’” Tiffany Dufu's personal story and strategies for balancing work and home life are inspiring. Through letting go, creative delegation and leveraging people and resources, she teaches how to achieve balance and redefine the definition of “success.”
5. “Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks”
Recommended by Ann Scheflen, chief philanthropy officer, Grand Canyon Association
A collection of personal stories about some of our most beloved national parks, author Terry Tempest Williams explores what U.S. national parks mean to us, and what we mean to them. As eloquently described in The New York Times’ review of the book, “Part memoir, part natural history and part social critique, “The Hour of Land” is a meditation and a manifesto on why wild lands matter to the soul of America.” This is a great reminder to connect with your organizations’ mission.
6. “Mountains Beyond Mountains”
Recommended by Fern Sandford, president, Fern Sandford Creative
According to Fern, author Tracy Kidder’s narrative is a “beautifully written book that captures the journey that led Paul Farmer from his work helping people in Haiti to founding Partners in Health.” It demonstrates how radical change can be cultivated in seemingly hopeless situations and how Farmer defies convention to get results.
I have to admit there were so many good book recommendations that it was hard to pick just six. Here are more book recommendations:
- "Man’s Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl
- "Ego Is the Enemy" by Ryan Holiday
- "The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues" by Patrick Lencioni
- "EVEolution: Understanding Women - 8 Essential Truths That Work in Your Business & Life" by Faith Popcorn
- "The 50th Law" by 50 Cent and Robert Greene
- "Strong Women Stay Young" by Miriam Nelson
- "The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials Into Triumph" by Ryan Holiday
- "Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age" by Sherrie Turkle
- "Data Science for Business: What You Need to Know About Data Mining and Data-Analytic Thinking" by Foster Provost and Tom Fawcett
- "The Little Things: Why You Really Should Sweat the Small Stuff" by Andy Andrews
- "The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World" by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu
- "Agile PR: Expert Messaging in a Hyper-Connected, Always-On World" by Marian Salzman
- "Rudolph Flesch on Business Communications: How to Say What You Mean in Plain English" by Rudolph Flesch
- "The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People" by Gary Chapman and Paul White
Angela Struebing is president of CDR Fundraising Group, a multichannel agency focused on helping nonprofits maximize their online, direct mail, telemarketing and DRTV fundraising results. As president, Angela is responsible for overall agency management and strategic planning for national nonprofit clients to include The Wounded Warrior Project, Shriners’ Hospitals for Children, MoMA and the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. Angela is a frequent speaker at industry events and is recognized for her strategic expertise. She has also served as Education co-chair for the Bridge Conference.