Yes I said books.  Remember those? 🙂

While I have learned so much from blogging, networking, and working in the nonprofit sector, the following books provide ongoing guidance, insight, and support for me as I develop my career.  This list includes books that offer hands-on tips and strategies on how to define and do well in my career as well as books that explore challenges in justice, privilege, and living with conviction.

Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time by Paul Loeb
Visit Soul of a Citizen

It is easy to get sucked into the day to day grind of working.  It’s even easier to believe that your work wont make a difference given the enormous problems we face. However,  we tend to ignore the real threats to justice that happen not in far away places or on grand scales, but in our own communities and in our minds. Now, more than ever, is the best time to be an activist yet we have to claim it and be willing talk and connect with each other on a more humane level.  How do we figure out what we stand for and, day in and day out, truly stand for it? This book is full of inspirational stories that give me the courage I need to keep moving forward and the small important steps I can take to make a difference beyond my job.

Nonprofit Career Guide:  How to Land a Job that Makes a Difference by Shelly Cryer
Visit: Nonprofit Career Guide

When you say nonprofit the images that pop into people’s heads are soup kitchens, after school programs, and puppies.  While these nonprofits provide crucial support to the communities they serve, our inability to see the entire sector beyond these organizations masks the sheer magnitude and diversity of the sector.  Employing over 13% of the nation and worth over a trillion dollars the nonprofit sector is home to many people with different interests, passions, and skills. There is truly a place for everyone-the trick is finding where you belong. This book explores the nine different types of nonprofits, skills needed to thrive, hiring trends, steps for figuring out what you want, and more.

How to Become a Nonprofit Rockstar: 50 Ways to Accelerate Your Career by Rosetta Thurman and Trista Harris
Visit: Nonprofit Rockstar Tour

So you have the job….now what?  Unfortunately, I thought once I landed my first job a path would just fall into place.  That didn’t happen and even now I’m constantly reshuffling the deck as I figure out what I want to do.  With humor, resources, a variety of voices from young people kicking butt in the field (including yours truly!) this book tackles a variety of issues facing young people who want to thrive in the sector: from building a support network to finding professional development opportunities.

Grassroots and Nonprofit Leadership: A Guide for Organizing in Changing Times by Berit Lakey, George Lakey, Rod Napier, and Janison Robinson
Visit Training for Change (book available for free download)

I have to admit I didnt start thinking of myself as a leader until recently.  The reason is simple:  I didnt have a title.  Yet the more I work the more I realize that Noticing and acting on challenges is a sign of leadership and our narrow definition excludes enormous amounts of potential.  This book explores the various challenges to leadership–from technical issues like space and meetings to more complex issues like defining leadership and including different voices.  This book helped me see different kinds of leadership and the internal problems that arise when we have to go beyond passion to action and inclusion.  Definitely great for folks who want to start or run a nonprofit!

The Greater Good: How Philanthropy Drives the American Economy and Can Save Capitalism by Claire Guadiani
Visit The Greater Good

Philanthropy isnt just nice, nor is just something to do when you want your name on a building (in fact the author argues that these attitudes limit the power of philanthropy).  Instead, philanthropy supports our nation in very necessary and tangible ways, and has done so for decades. The challenges that face philanthropy–dwindling funds, debt, lack of community involvement–go beyond shrinking a nonprofit’s budget and actually threaten the livelihoods of our communities.  This book challenged my understanding of philanthropy and strengthened my commitment to the sector.

And my gift to you.

I’m building my social justice/nonprofit career library and I hope you are too!  To help, I would love to send you any book off this list.

Just add a comment below sharing what book you want and why by Friday December 17th 5pm EST.  Three winners will be announced Saturday December 18th at 10am EST and selected randomly using random.org.

This list is by no means exhaustive–while writing it I thought of other books I have found incredibly useful.  Yet I think these books provide a useful foundation.  So please feel free to share books not on this list!