The Nonprofit Summer Reading List | npENGAGE

The Nonprofit Summer Reading List

By on Jun 28, 2019


The weather is warm, summer camps are in full swing, BBQs are a weekly occurrence, and as the sixth month of the year wraps up, some organizations are already gearing up for end-of-the-year asks and setting up holiday campaign fundraising goals.

While it might seem a little early to start thinking about 2020 to some (hint: it’s not), it’s the perfect time to benchmark where 2019 has taken you. Are you on course to reaching those optimistic January goals and resolutions?

This list is comprised of tools, research, fundraising ideas, and other reading material to give you insight into how the sector as a whole is doing and what your strategic focus should be going forward. I hope these resources fill you with inspiration and gusto to go out and create your own amazing content!

The Nonprofit Summer Reading List


Sector Insight:

  • Charitable Giving Report Quiz: The Blackbaud Institute for Philanthropic released the 6th annual Charitable Giving Report at the beginning of the year. You may have already read the report, but a few months later, do you remember everything that was in the report? Have you revisited it when you need to pivot or reevaluate your strategy? Is it all just a blur of numbers and percentages now? Take the Quiz to see for yourself!
  • A Philanthropist’s Guide to the Future: Philanthropy is changing. This report, presented by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, offers insight into why social impact professionals work, how they work, and what will enhance their work, along with information and data about what it means to be an active donor.
  • Blackbaud Index: The Blackbaud Index provides great fundraising ideas and resources that bring you the most up-to-date information on charitable giving today. Compare your fundraising performance against the Overall Index.


Strategic Planning:

  • 10 Steps for a Midyear Fundraising Checkup: Have you revisited your fundraising budget? When’s the last time you reviewed your plans or asked for feedback from your team? Use this checklist to check in.
  • Fundraising Scorecard: How well is your fundraising program performing? Gail Perry’s insightful blog post and scorecard will give you a realistic measurement into the organization and productivity of your programs.


Organizational Culture:


Fundraising Programs:

  • Sustainers in Focus Part 2: How focused is your organization on monthly, or sustained, giving programs? The six best practices uncovered in Sustainers in Focus Part 2can help jump-start a monthly giving program or take your current processes to the next level. I’d also suggest reading Sustainers in Focus Part 1 to reminder yourself of the bottom line: sustained giving works.


Nonprofit Marketing:

  • Technical SEO Glossary: Want to increase the amount of visitors to your nonprofit website? This article from NTEN provides the SEO terms you need to know.


Community Inspiration:


Nonprofit Best-Sellers:

  • Retention Fundraising: The New Art and Science of Keeping Your Donors for Life by Roger Craver: If your nonprofit truly cares about keeping its donors, and it should, then this book is required reading for fundraisers. Roger’s years of research have uncovered why donors stop giving and how nonprofits can build lasting commitment. The paperback format makes it easy to dog-ear pages that you’re going to want to reference again and again.
  • Nonprofit Fundraising 101 by Darian Rodriguez Heyman: New to the world of fundraising or know someone who is just starting out in their career? Heyman’s latest book covers everything from developing a fundraising plan to engaging your board and measuring results. The book contains advice from several nonprofit experts, including myself, and has plenty of case studies too.
  • Data-Driven Nonprofits by Steve MacLaughlin: “Big data” might seem like a buzzword, but it’s critical that your nonprofit understand how to leverage data in order to fully realize all the untapped potential you have to make an even bigger difference. Read this book to get advice from sector experts who have mastered the keys to becoming data-driven.
  • How to Turn Your Words Into Money: The Master Fundraiser’s Guide to Persuasive Writing by Jeff Brooks: If you or someone you love writes fundraising appeals, then Jeff Brooks’ latest book is a fantastic resource. He takes the time to explain why fundraising writing is different, the common pitfalls writers make, and plenty of examples of how to get it right. With so much talk about the importance of storytelling, it’s good to know there’s a book that guides you through the process.
  • Social Movements for Good: How Companies and Causes Create Viral Change by Derrick Feldmann:We are seeing a lot of changes in how individuals, nonprofits, companies, and movements interact. Feldmann’s new book explores the convergence of these trends with examples and insights. This is one of those books where you read a chapter and then frantically write down lots of ideas and notes that come into your head.
  • The Happy, Healthy Nonprofit: Strategies for Impact without Burnout by Beth Kanter and Aliza Sherman: This book doesn’t officially come out until October, but you can pre-order it now. Sherman are really on to something with this new book. If you’re not taking care of yourself, then it’s hard to take care of the mission. Individuals and organizations need sustainable approaches to keeping themselves and their teams performing at a high level.

Happy reading!


Kelsey Bowden is a Demand Marketing Manager at Blackbaud. Kelsey combines her passion for nonprofits and marketing experience to help organizations maximize their fundraising potential with Blackbaud solutions. In her spare time Kelsey enjoys all aspects of the Charleston lifestyle including trying new restaurants, relaxing on the beach, and discovering all the history and nature that the low country has to offer with her husband and two young boys.

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