8 Books to Help Nonprofit Professionals Achieve Excellence in 2022

Read? Who has time to read?? Actually, a lot of people seek to make room in their schedules to read. Even those in the nonprofit sector (arguably the busiest folks around) have time to read content that is compelling and helpful. There is no shortage of great books to help nonprofit professionals out there, but some rise above the pack when it comes to relevance and impact for nonprofit work. Our reading list for 2022 includes some throwbacks to classics as well as new books we know will help your nonprofit achieve excellence!


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Soundtracks (2021)

Jon Acuff

We all overthink. Those with a lot to think about (nonprofit pros) especially overthink. Author Jon Acuff uses his personal experiences as well as research conducted in partnership with MIke Peasley, PhD to analyze how negative self talk (bad soundtracks) can limit our potential and how we can all stop. Acuff has a fantastic sense of humor which makes this a hilarious and uplifting read. 

The 1-Page Marketing Plan (2018)

Allan Dib

While clearly written for a for-profit business model, this book is simple, short, and oh so fantastically practical! Perhaps that is why it continues to dominate the top of the Best Nonprofit Book Chart on Amazon. This book is more than a great read, it is a powerful exercise in getting your nonprofit’s branding, advertising and marketing on point. If you didn’t know that branding, marketing, and advertising were all separate things, we REALLY recommend this title (check out the circus analogy on page 15). Not only is the content great, but the book contains a link to a one-page marketing plan template to help you get started. 


Do Story | How to tell your story so the world listens (2013)

Bobette Buster 

This pocket-sized title packs punch! Bobette Buster uses her own storytelling talent to narrate real-life tales of people, cultures, and events that resonate with any reader. There’s no need to read between the lines here, though. Buster explains powerful storytelling principles with each tale. Her inspirationl quotes and simple style make this a joyful read as well as a very easy one. 


Everybody Writes | Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content (2014)

Anne Handley

Fundraising appeals, newsletters, board reports, annual reports, you name it. Those in the nonprofit sector do a lot of writing. In fact, there are few positions where quality writing is not a major asset. This book is a clear and concise guide to avoiding common mistakes and mastering the technical aspects of writing. Using 74 simple tips, a content tools guide, and even some pictures, this is a practical guide to getting your writing right. 

I just glanced at the table of contents and I’m already a better writer. Ann Handley might just single-handedly save the world from content mediocrity.

Jason Miller

Senior Content Marketing Manager, LinkedIn

Atomic Habits (2018)

James Clear

“Every action is a vote for the person you wish to become.” – James Clear

This is a highly motivational book that will supercharge your schedule and decision-making. Habits add up! With analogies that make sense but also rock your world (I think about the ice cube analogy almost daily) this book is a must-read for anyone needing some structure and motivation. For nonprofit professionals who are stretched for time, this book will unveil the power of minutes and intentionality. Note: I highly recommend the audio book version of this title, especially if you listen while working out!

This engaging, hands-on book is the guide you need to break bad routines and make good ones.

Adam Grant

Best-Selling Author

The Surprising Gift of Doubt | Use Uncertainty to Become the Exceptional Leader You Are Meant to Be (2021)

What if you’re exactly the leader you’re supposed to be? This counter-cultural perspective is the theme of Pitman’s analysis of how doubt is just fine…In fact, it’s a necessary ingredient of great leadership. While Pitman’s style is easy and full of stories of his experiences coaching clients from a broad range of backgrounds and organizations. He interweaves commonly known personality tests, i.e., DISC and Enneagram, as he helps the reader better understand themselves and their potential. 

A generous book with a breakthrough approach to thinking about how and why we lead. Marc Pitman will help you realize that leadership is a choice, it’s a skill, and it’s open to each of us.

Seth Godin

Entrepreneur and Best-Selling Author

Recommendations for Christian Ministries & Churches

Rooting for RivalsRooting for Rivals (2019) 

Peter Greer and Chris Horst

While written for Christian charities and churches using Biblical wisdom, this book holds some gems for any nonprofit. Despite encouragement from funders and culture to collaborate, the nonprofit sector still struggles with rivalries on an individual and organizational level. Greer and Horst break down the driving forces of rivalry and competition as well as how they can be defeated before they defeat the greatness of power and collaboration. 



The Courage Factor (2021)

Bob Westfall

This is a highly inspirational read for anyone work to raise funds for a ministry and/or their own courage through the process! Westfall artfully weaves in stories with recognizable ministries and relatable struggles. 

Stack of books to help nonprofit professionals

Katie Appold

Katie’s nonprofit career includes a variety of leadership roles for human service, foundation, and publishing-related nonprofits as well as many volunteer roles. Under Katie’s leadership, nonprofit organizations have developed new programs related to free healthcare, affordable and accessible housing and literacy programs for K-12 students. In her first Executive Director role, Katie increased the annual revenue of the organization she led by 300% and received the top grant prize in the nation for affordable housing through the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis. Today, she leads Nonprofit Hub and Cause Camp, which collectively serve more than 50,000 nonprofits throughout North America. Her educational background includes an undergraduate degree in business administration and a masters degree in nonprofit leadership. Katie serves as the board president of Gracious Grounds, a housing organization serving individuals with disabilities. She is an active member of the Grand Rapids Young Nonprofit Professionals, the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, Cause Network, and the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

February 17, 2022

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