Friday, July 14, 2017

You and Your Nonprofit Board - Now on Kindle!

I was proud and excited to be a contributor to You and Your Nonprofit Board: Advice and Practical Tips from the Field's Top Practitioners, Researchers, and Provocateurs (In the Trenches)when it was published a few years ago.  Since then, it continues to be a popular resource with nonprofit executives and board members.  In fact, it has a five star rating on Amazon. 

Now I am excited to announce that there is a major price reduction for the Kindle version - just $9.95! - and it will be available for free if you have Kindle unlimited.

If you don't already have your copy, you will want to check this out now.  I must admit, however, that the format lends itself to a paper edition being a ready to use format with bullets and boxed tips throughout.

Here's a brief excerpt of what I wrote about it when it was first published:

"This is not a basic handbook.  It is an anthology of articles featuring current trends and fresh ideas on topics of importance to nonprofit boards.  There are plenty of examples and short boxes throughout which provide food for thought, definitions, principles, quotes, examples and practical tips.  My copy is going to be full of yellow highlighting very soon."

You can read my full article about the book here:

Click this link to see all the format options at Amazon:

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Happy Healthy Nonprofit - A Must Read

Everyone in the nonprofit sector who know Beth Kanter (That is everyone, right?) has anxiously awaited the arrival of her newest book, The Happy Healthy Nonprofit and I have been fortunate enough receive a final galley for review.  This weekend I began to read it with pen in hand to take notes for the review but soon I had to stop taking notes because I was writing so much. This book is written by Beth Kanter and Aliza Sherman but please excuse me if I just refer to Beth because I know Beth.  

This is a book that you will want to read and keep on your bookshelf to refer to over and over again.  It is a resource that all nonprofit leaders and Board leaders should read and take to heart.  It is destined to be a must have book for a long time to come.

I knew this would be a good book because it is an important topic and Beth has been taking personal action and writing about it for a long time.  But I was unprepared for what a page turner it would be. I even failed at one of their cardinal recommendations to get enough sleep by continuing to read it when I was in bed and my husband was sound asleep next to me.

The authors say that the goal of the book is to give you actionable ideas and advice along with research and data for making positive changes for a happy healthy life and nonprofit.  They deliver on this goal.  This is not touchy feely pie in the sky.  It is all practical and doable. The book is organized into two major sections: Revitalize Yourself and Revitalize Your Organization.  This makes sense – after all, you have to be the change you want to be and it has to start with yourself. The discussion starts with burnout and addresses the five spheres of healthy, Happy Living – Relationship to self, others, environment, work and Money and Tech.  The authors point out that  “A more relaxed mind can help you be more productive and more creative.”  We all know this to be true but ignore it way too often.  This book will help you develop simple practices for yourself and your nonprofit so that it becomes part of your DNA.

Part 2 is dedicated to revitalizing Your organization.  Key topics include organizational culture,  self-care to we-care, processes for well being in the workplace and strategy for getting there.  There is a quote by Peter Drucker that I just love, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”  As someone who worked for years with nonprofits on strategic planning I can say that this is TRUE.  All of your strategies will be hollow if the culture of the organization does not lift up your vision, mission, goals and action plans.  This section has an excellent set of questions to ask about your own organization’s culture to get started on assessing what changes are best for you.  And then practical advice for moving from self-care to we-care.  It doesn’t necessarily take a lot of hard work to make this transformation but it does take commitment  and participation from the top and employee engagement.

One of the things I like best about a book written by Beth Kanter is that it is so well researched.  This book is chock full of professional references and real life examples that cost little or nothing at all.  There is a long list of specific, easy to implement examples that real nonprofits are doing that even the smallest nonprofit can do. I am always interested in practices that are practical for small nonprofits and this book has oodles of them.

I have one small suggestion for the second edition.  Add a list of definitions at the end.  You have wonderful definitions of the terms we all know and I'd like to have an easy look-up of lots of new terms I saw in the book. 

I have been very negligent in my blogging this year and I can give you my list of reasons why.  But the truth is I just wasn’t motivated by topics that excited me.  Beth has motivated me and filled my mind and heart with lots of ideas to write about and I will be using this book and some of the resources she mentions to reactivate my writing.  Thanks Beth.  Thanks for this wonderful new book and all the energy you bring to the nonprofit world.

Subscribe to this blog now so you don't miss this year's Wishlist of Books for Nonprofit Folk featuring The Happy Healthy Nonprofit and other books recommended by Nonprofit Changemakers published in early November.

Order The Happy Healthy Nonprofit at Amazon now.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Finding the Best Candidates for Your Nonprofit Executive Position

You really can’t have a “If we build it, they will come” attitude about finding the best candidates for a Nonprofit Executive position. This is especially true for small and midsize organizations that are not well known.  This article is for you.  Too often some of the best ways of finding the best candidates are overlooked.  You need to actually recruit candidates – not expect that they will come to you without working at it. Volume isn’t the goal – quality and good fit are the goals.  Here is my list of actions to take to let the right people know about your executive director or other high level executive opening. 

When a small/midsize nonprofit executive leaves, the Board usually appoints a Search Committee to find and recommend the best candidates to fill the position. Once you have done the hard work of developing an accurate job description then the job of finding great candidates begins in earnest.  So what should you do?  The answer: LOTS OF THINGS!  Here’s a grocery list.

Advertise – In the Right Places
There are job boards specifically for Nonprofits.  They are low cost or free and visited by people specifically interested in Nonprofits.  Idealist and The Foundation Center list full job descriptions and yield excellent experienced candidates.  In NJ I always list a nonprofit opening at the Center for Nonprofits job board.  Your organization may belong to local professional groups that list nonprofit jobs and that can be an excellent resource. 

Your Website
I don’t understand why but some small organizations shy away from advertising an executive position on their own website.  They are afraid of getting too many inappropriate applications or having someone they really don’t want to apply.  Really?  Just discard the inappropriate applications and don’t consider seriously anyone you don’t want to.  As a consultant I have been asked to interview as a courtesy unqualified or underqualifed candidates for any number of reasons.  I conduct the same half hour introductory telephone interview with them as all the other candidates and provide honest feedback of the major criteria categories just like every other candidate.  I am an outsider and document the same information about each candidate.  The grading against the major requirements  and feedback from the telephone interview become the basis for which candidates are interviewed in person. Bottom Line: Don’t worry  about having too many candidates or one you rather not deal with.

Solicitation Letter
Send a letter to nonprofit leaders, foundation executives, funders and partners announcing the opening and asking them to pass the information on to potential candidates.  This can be the most effective step you take.  People who weren’t thinking about seeking another position, who are currently employed will consider applying  for the opening.  A funder may discuss the possibility with an individual they think is a good fit. A partner may pass it on to someone not in your network who is an excellent candidate.  Using this kind of networking can yield outstanding candidates.

Your Executive Search Consultant
Your executive search consultant should be able to identify potential candidates for you.  I always know people who are in a job search and I always reach out to people I know to recommend potential candidates.

Social Media
Linkedin and Facebook are excellent hunting ground for candidates if you already have a presence there.  LinkedIn has an excellent program for nonprofits and you should apply now and not wait until you need the service.  The premium membership (free for approved nonprofits) gives you search capabilities that are excellent for searching for Board members as well as potential job candidates.  LinkedIn has also become an excellent job board resource.  If you have an active facebook page –let your fans know that you have an opening.  You never know who may learn about your opening this way.

What other ways have you used to recruit candidates?  Please share them in the comments.


P.S.  My consulting practice is limited to executive search for small and midsize organizations.  If you would like more information about working with me please email me at

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 4th, 2015.  Please send me your email if you enter so that I can contact you if you win -

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