Summer Reading for Nonprofit Pros: 2019 Edition

As we turn much-deserved breaks this summer (I’m just back from a couple of weeks in Spain), many of us take the time to catch up on reading. Not just beach favs, but some of the great books that have come out to inspire us in our work.

Here’s my second annual set of recommendations for your summer reading. In between sips of your favorite hot-weather beverage.

Lean Impact by Ann Mei Chang

I became acquainted with Ann Mei Chang last December when we came to Miami to workshop the ideas in her new book, Lean Impact: How to Innovate for Radically Greater Social Good. I was so impressed that I had her headline an annual conference I co-curate.

Lean Impact provides a model in the scientific method that relies on hypothesis-driven experiments to reduce risk and increase the pace of learning in our organizations. It’s a hands-on guide to increase the impact of our time and money.

Ann-Mei-Chang-7-31-18-1600x900Chang is a former Silicon Valley exec (think Google, Apple, and Intuit) who turned her time and talents to the nonprofit sector. She served as Chief Innovation Officer at USAID and then asExecutive Director of the U.S. Global Lab. In other words, she’s a person of substance.

After participating in the workshop of her ideas, I can tell you that there are a lot of great ideas in this volume.

Be Fearless by Jean Case

Screen Shot 2019-07-14 at 11.04.50 AMThe Case Foundation’s Be Fearless framework has been an inspiration to me — personally and professionally — for years. I’ve used it in my client and even built a whole conference around the idea two years ago.

Now foundation CEO Jean Case has gathered tons of stories into a single volume organized around the five pillars of the framework: Make Big Bets and Make History; Experminent Early and Often; Make Failure Matter; Reach Beyond Your Bubble, and Let Urgency Conquer Fear.

It’s an enjoyable and inspiring read. You can learn much more at the Be Fearless Hub.

Dryer’s English by Benjamin Dreyer

Benjamin-Dreyer-Dreyers-English-CropFor my fellow word-nerds, I offer up Benjamin Dreyer’s “utterly correct guide to clarity and style.”

Wait, wait…hear me out. I’m not crazy. While I would not consider the style manuals published by the Associated Press and University of Chicago Press fun reading, this one actually is.

Dreyer is the copy chief at Random House and is funny, opinionated, and very much on point in his opinions. Here’s a bon mot indicative of his prose: “Only godless savages eschew the series comma.” Then there’s this: “The problem with mnemonic devices is that I can never remember them.”

I read this over a couple of spring afternoons lounging on my sunporch and can tell you that I actually did laugh out loud at his wit. If you love language and writing or know that you need to brush up on your communication skills, spend some time with this book.

Glenn is a fundraising strategist who loves working with organizations that want to innovate and grow. Check out his website at, and to find out how he can help you, email him at You can follow him on Instagram, and Facebook. He’s also the author of the forthcoming House Party: How to Turn a Home Into a Powerful Fundraising Tool.




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