“Be cool to the pizza dude” and other new year’s resolutions…

Hi, if you are wavering on those new year resolutions and need that 10-days-into- January-motivation, here are some books that can help you. As always, any book we recommend has to:

• Have strong content based on research and/or practical experience
• Be a quick read—we are all BUSY
• Capture our interest—no boring books
• Allow you to apply what you’ve learned the next day
• Inspire you to do your work even better

So, pick out YOUR resolution from the list below, buy, borrow or check out the accompanying book, and be on your way to a more successful and sustainable 2008. I resolve to….

1. Have more impact. Run to buy Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits.This is THE new book on the scene, kind of like Good to Great, but geared towards social change. Some myths it dispels: you need a large budget, or high ratings on conventional measures of nonprofit efficiency. WHAT IT DOES TAKE to have impact: combining advocacy and direct services; working with markets and businesses; building strong communities of supporters; building networks of allies; combining innovation with strong execution and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances; shared leadership. JVA will be doing a free “book club” night on this book this spring, so you can get together with others who want to amp up their capacity for social change. Watch our website later this week for a time and date.

2. Help my board become more effective and helpful. Place Best of the Board Café right on your desk when you can reach for it anytime. This collection of clear, succinct, practical articles will help you will all things related to boards, including board roles, the board-executive director relationship, committee structures, strategic planning, decision-making, finances and fundraising.

3. Create a fundraising plan that will work regardless of what happens to the economy this year. Buy Fundraising in Times of Crisis (you don’t want to borrow this one from the library because you will really want to use a highlighter and mark it up). Written in 2004 and addressing the post 9/11 climate, Kim Klein’s book seems even more relevant four years later. Bad economy? Fewer grant dollars? Kim Klein’s sound practical advice can help you through it. And it works!

4. Learn more about this whole social network/online fundraising stuff. I recommended Momentum as a holiday gift to your loved ones who want to change the world, and now it’s time to get your own copy. For those of us who aren’t quite sure how these new social networking and other online tools are supposed to play a role in advocacy and fundraising, this book helps us figure that out. More important, Fine lays out how new online tools and media can bring social change to scale.

5. Start every day being inspired. We love This I Believe. From “be cool to the pizza dude” to “I believe it is possible for ordinary people to do great things,” the guiding philosophies of 80 people emerge in short (2-3 page) essays drawn from the NPR series. Read one every morning before you head to work. Then, when the day-to-day minutia starts overwhelming you, you remember why you chose to do what you do. Happy new year! Janine

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