Tuesday, November 10, 2015

2015 Wishlist of Books for Nonprofit Folk plus a Giveaway

This is the seventh year I am writing the Wishlist of Books for Nonprofit Folk. Every year I marvel at the new choices of books that are recommend on the wishlist.  This is not just any list.  It is a curated list with invited nonprofit thought leaders asked to contribute their recommendations.

The contributors are not confined to strictly nonprofit titles and I am always grateful for the spectrum of books that make it on this list.  There are practical books that you will want on your bookshelf to refer to again and again.  There are books that will transform and advance your way of thinking and seeing the world.  There are inspirational books and ones that challenge us to look at the future.  It is quite a list.  You may want all of them.

I want to express a huge thank you to the nonprofit thought leaders who contributed to this year’s list.  They are Debra Beck, Kathleen Brennan, Heather Carpenter, Pamela Grow, John Haydon, Beth Kanter,  Andrea Post,  Ash Shepard, Amy Sample Ward and Robert Weiner.  What a stellar list of contributors! I publish this list at this time of year because I think a book is the perfect holiday gift for that someone special in your nonprofit network.  Any of these books would be a very thoughtful gift.
And if that isn’t enough – the Wishlist again features a giveaway!  Heather Carpenter, co-author of the newly published The Talent Development Platform: Putting People First in Social Change Organizations (The Jossey-Bass Nonprofit Guidebook Series) is graciously offering her book to one reader of this post.  See the details at the end of the post.
So here’s the Wishlist:

The Wishlist is organized into two categories:
Social Change, Transformation, Inspiration, Leadership 
Fundraising, Communication and Donor Relationship

Social Change, Transformation, Inspiration, Leadership

Recommended by Marion Conway
Two of the most important issues facing nonprofits today are succession development and professional development .  There is a lot of lip service given to these topics but not a lot of solid practical advice.  This book stands alone as a practical guide for employee development and includes worksheets, checklists and best of all, assessments specifically for social change organizations.    Both Beth Kanter and I have reviewed this book this year.  See Beth's comments here and mine here.

Recommended by Debra Beck
Deb’s assessment: “Dr. Meyer offers a framework – and a practical road map – for creating environments where people have the knowledge, tools, and confidence they need to create the outcomes they seek. While on the surface it may appear to apply primarily to corporate environments, the principles and recommended practices easily transfer to a nonprofit setting. Speaking of “practices,” a strength of this book is the set of “Make Shift Happen” recommendations that appear at the end of each chapter.   Read Deb’s full review here.  

By Paul Shoemaker      Recommended by Beth Kanter
Shoemaker shares the lessons he’s learned bringing together the people who found their own “can’t not do” and are contributing to a better world. This book provides the tools to convert positive intention into positive action, with compelling narratives of people who have done it, and by distilling the core lessons learned by successful social change leaders to become more effective.

by Sarah Robinson  Recommended by Ash Shepherd 
We all know that building relationships and community is important to the long term health of nonprofits.  But how do you do it?  This book isn’t specifically for nonprofits but it speaks to our community.  Business strategist Sarah Robinson helps you break down the process and gives you clear, specific steps for creating and maintaining a fiercely loyal, wildly successful community and put it squarely in the center of your business plan.  Her model is easy to understand, efficient and effective.
Recommended by Beth Kanter
Beth Kanter is the ultimate Global Nonprofit Social Media Guru.  And now she is on the way to becoming the ultimate Nonprofit Physical Fitness Guru.  Beth has been sharing her working while walking and other experiences this last year and now she recommends this new book which discusses the scientific facts and offers lots of specific advice.  Read Beth’s review here.  

Recommended by Andrea Post
If you are interested in changing the world, start by reading this book.  It combines a moving description of the power of education and the ability of one person to impact the world with concrete steps necessary to turn your own ideas into reality.  Inspirational and practical – all in one book.

When Millennials Take Over – by Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant  Recommended by Marion Conway
This book has been on my personal wishlist since I read Beth Kanter’s review in March.  Millennials are changing the workplace very rapidly and businesses are learning to adapt.  Based on research, such as Heather Carpenter’s, nonprofits are being slow to adapt and this is an important issue for us to address now.  Read Beth Kanter’s full review here.

And I finish this section with the recommendation from the incomparable Amy Sample Ward.  Amy did not feel confined by the request to recommend specific books that will be of interest to the Nonprofit community. Instead Amy offered this discerning advice: “Here's my wishlist for nonprofit folks:
  • Read fiction. Read for pleasure. Carve that time. Be inspired. Give yourself that. Comics totally count!
  • Commit to reading works by people who are not White and not cis-gendered men. Do it for a year. There is a whole world out there (a few folks in my book group and I have committed to only bringing books authored by women and people of color this year. it's been awesome!).
  • Ask people much younger than you what they're reading. Read that.
  • Ask people much older than you what they're reading. Read that."

Now back to earth, folks!......

Fundraising, Communication and Donor Relationship Titles 

How to Turn Your Words Into Money: The Master Fundraiser's Guide to Persuasive Writing by Jeff Brooks   Recommended by John Haydon, Kathleen Brennan and Pamela Grow
The first two responses for my call for recommendations were from John and Kathleen for this book and then Pamela recommended it too.  I have never had such a highly recommended book on this list. John Haydon said, “It's got practical tips and advice for every nonprofit marketer or fundraiser, with lots of examples.  Jeff's is a master at storytelling, which makes the book hard to put down. Bonus: It's only 180 pages!”  Kathleen Brennan added, “pulls back the curtain on the counter intuitive world of fundraising” and Pamela Grow calls this an amazing book which teaches you to “seamlessly transition from formal writing to writing that packs a colossal emotional punch.” That is some set of recommendations!  You can see Pamela’s full review here. 

This isn’t actually a fundraising book but it is about customer relationship which is a critical part of effective fundraising.  Pamela gives some good examples in her review here.  

Storytelling Can Change the World by Ken Burnett     Recommended by Pamela Grow
Pamela says, “Every nonprofit fundraiser - and that includes your board and staff - should be taking on the role of transformational storyteller.  Burnett will change how you view storytelling, one of the most enviable and useful skills one can have.”  Read Pamela’s whole review here.

It's NOT JUST about the Money by Richard Perry and Jeff Schreifels      Recommended by Pamela Grow
Pamela says, “This book is not just for major gift officers. These are the principles to take your organization confidently and joyfully into the future.  This is a book that should be on every fundraiser’s bookshelf. It really is NOT just about the money (here's the secret: it's about love).”  Read Pamela’s whole review here. 

An Executive's Guide to Fundraising Operations: Principles, Tools and Trends by Christopher Cannon
Recommended by Robert Weiner
If you are interested in a straightforward, more traditional book about fundraising this may be the one for you. It is filled with hundreds of useful tips for addressing operations. The step-by-step guidance covers program support, technology applications, data maintenance, gift processing, reporting, analytics, and compliance.

The Generosity Network: New Transformational Tools for Successful Fund-Raising by Jennifer McCrea and Jeffrey Walker  Recommended by Andrea Post 
Through personal stories, innovative suggestions, and inspiring examples, McCrea and Walker show us  how to build a community of engaged partners who share a common passion and are eager to provide the resources needed to change the world—not just money, but also time, talents, personal networks, creative thinking, public support, and all the other forms of social capital that are abundant, waiting to be uncovered and mobilized.  I'm happy to have this one in my personal library.

Giveaway Details
If you would like an opportunity to win a copy of The Talent Development Platform just leave a comment here about the list or add a book you would recommend.  Another way to enter is to visit the MarionConway – Nonprofit Consultant  facebook page and leave a comment on the post about this giveaway.  The winner will be chosen from comments made by midnight, December 3rd, 2015.  Please send me your email if you enter so that I can contact you if you win - marion@marionconway.com.

 Follow the Wishlist of Nonprofit Books on Pinterest and see more great titles.  Click here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Don't Let This Happen to You - The Best Candidates Don't Want Your Executive Job

When a small/medium sized nonprofit has an Executive opening they can easily get 75 – 125 job applicants.  Just like in the for profit industry, it is easy to reduce this to the top 8-15 to look at seriously and then it becomes complicated.   No one is perfect, some are quite interesting, one would be a breath of fresh air, that one is young - but seems so dynamic, etc.

When I work with a nonprofit search committee, the first thing we do is decide on the process and timeline. The next task is writing the job description.  The job description shouldn’t be just a list of responsibilities. It should be a window on the soul of your organization and clearly state the key hands-on responsibilities for the incumbent.  This is your starting point. So far, so good.

Now the going gets tough.  Unlike the for profit sector, where hiring decisions are often made by one person – the hiring manager – in the nonprofit sector there are usually two groups involved in the decision – the Search Committee (SC) and the Board.  I am not suggesting a change in that process but this article is about a particular pitfall that needs to be considered – the length of the process.  When you have two committees that must agree you are asking for time delay unless you are disciplined and focused on the importance of not letting that happen.

Since there are so many candidates up front, a Search Committee can easily feel like they are in the driver’s seat and it is all a one way process where they will select the best candidate(s).  Unfortunately, it is a two way process and this isn’t always recognized.

Some of the best candidates will drop out of consideration.  This has happened in every search that I have conducted. According to CareerBuilder’s latest quarterly survey of 400 staffing industry professionals, the most common reasons for a declined job offer are:

  • Candidate received another offer (39%).
  • Compensation and benefits are not in line with the candidate’s expectations (29%).
  • Candidate received a counteroffer from his or her current company (10%).

I will add that in the nonprofit sector – the process takes too long and the best candidates simply accept another job offer.

Let's take a look at each of these scenarios:
Candidate received another offer
The main reason this happens is that the Search process takes too long. When candidates are in a job/career advancement search they are pursuing multiple opportunities at the same time.  The people who look like the best candidates to you, also look that way to other organizations. Once a search has begun, it is important to move the process along in a timely manner or your opening loses its freshness and best candidates accept other job offers.  I have seen Search Committees set in person interviews for three weeks into the future and half their candidates melt away.  Yes there were 70 others who applied but only 4-5 by this point (after telephone interviews with me) they wanted to interview.  Now is when I see glancing at the resumes of those lost….if only we met last week….and I was willing to skip that other meeting….

Search Committees and Boards are made up of people who have day jobs.  It is difficult to set meeting dates that work with all of them.  When I work with a committee we set a calendar of dates upfront and stick to it. This usually includes setting a full Board meeting date for interview(s).  This gives the Search committee a deadline that they will want to meet.

You can have conference calls in early morning or late evening if necessary but  stay on schedule. All resumes can be posted to a shared online (Google Drive works) folder so that SC members can review on their own schedule rather than at meetings.   Don't let face to face meetings become a roadblock to keeping your search process on track.

I can’t emphasize how important this is and it is the one potential pitfall I always see.  As a consultant, I am not the boss, but I always try to steer the ship away from this problem.

And for the other two…

Compensation and benefits are not in line with the candidate’s expectations
It is important to offer a reasonable salary and benefits. How do you know the going rate?  It is worth the investment to get the Guidestar Nonprofit Compensation Report or the Nonprofit Times Salary Report.  These reports will give you a clear picture of salary ranges for organizations like your own.  You can also scour ads to see what other similar positions are listed at.

Even small nonprofits must offer benefits.  Health benefits, vacation, professional development opportunity, retirement savings are all important.  They speak to how you value the candidate and want to retain them (That’s another post.)

Candidate received a counteroffer from his or her current company
This may very well be an excellent candidate but you have to just let this one go.  You may have sought this candidate out who was not in a search and they are happy to get a raise and stay where they are.  This may be someone who was only a candidate for your position because of the pay level in their current position.  Who knows.  But believe me – it was not meant to be.

So to wrap up.  Approach your search for an executive with enthusiasm, discipline, honesty and knowledge.  If you’d like to work with me, you can reach me at marion@marionconway.com.