Are your friends and family already asking for your holiday ‘wish list’? Why not take this opportunity to build your professional development library? You might have time over the holidays to actually read a book or two!

To help unearth some must-reads to add to our wish lists, I asked a group of smart nonprofit marcom pros for their recommendations, using the following question:

“What book do you think should be on every nonprofit marketer’s holiday wish list this year, and why? It can be something that came out this year, something that you discovered this year or something that you’ve known about for ages but think every nonprofit marketer and communicator should read. It can be directly related to nonprofit marketing, marketing or communications in general, or simply something that has inspired your work in some way. The only requirement is that you pick just one!”

The result is the following list of practical, inspiring and even unexpected books to enhance your nonprofit marketing communications library:



Social Change Anytime Everywhere: How to Implement Online Multichannel Strategies to Spark Advocacy, Raise Money, and Engage your Community, by Allyson Kapin and Amy Sample Ward

“Our constituency makes up a huge population worldwide and, because of social media, we have the potential to reach them. Kapin’s and Sample Ward’s Social Change Anytime Everywhere helps the non-profit marketer leverage social media to grow and engage your community. It helped me shape and diversify our messaging and strategies to attract support.”

-Alexandra Axel
Media Director
The Caregiver Space



Brandraising: How Nonprofits Raise Visibility and Money Through Smart Communications, by Sarah Durham

“The hardest part about this request is choosing only one book. The past few years there has been a wealth of wonderful books on branding, social media, storytelling, marketing, etc. written specifically for nonprofits. Not like in the old days, when I first started trying to brand nonprofits – my only resource was Phililp Kotler’s (the ‘father of marketing’) dense, theory heavy textbooks. One of my favorite books is Brandraising: by Sarah Durham of Big Duck. It provides a framework for nonprofit branding/marketing that is clear, concise, and oh-so practical. It’s one of those books where you underline and star practically every page. I give it two thumbs up!”

-Lori Warren
Senior Marketing Communications Manager
KIPP Foundation



Speechless, by Hannah Harrington

“I recently read a young adult novel called Speechless by Hannah Harrington that deals with teen bullying. This is an incredibly important issue and the book had me thinking about the power of literature to inspire empathy. As non-profit marketers, that’s what we’re always trying to do with our words.”

-Farah Ng
Communications Associate
Saint Elizabeth Health Care



inGenuis: A Crash Course on Creativity, by Tina Seelig

“Be sure to add inGenuis: A Crash Course on Creativity by Stanford University innovator Tina Seelig. As non-profit communications professionals, we can probably all relate to slipping into methods that are a little too comfortable at times. With Seelig’s innovation engine model in mind, I’m challenging myself to be more creative in my approach to routine actions. Knowing that “creativity is an endless renewable resource, and we can tap into it at any time” allows for your inner creative artist to emerge – all the better for you and your work!”

-Angela de Burger
Manager, Communications 
YMCA Canada



Writing for a Good Cause: The Complete Guide to Crafting Proposals and Other Persuasive Pieces for NonProfits, by Joseph Barbato and Danielle S. Furlich

“One of my first nonprofit assignments was to write a fundraising proposal. Hard enough for any writer – doubly hard because I had never done it before. Writing for a Good Cause by Joseph Barbato and Danielle S. Furlich guided me along. This I’ve always kept with me: You’re writing to a human being and not a machine. It’s important to choose language that speaks to him or her and not to get lost in cliches and jargon. It’s okay not to worry about sounding intelligent – instead focus on writing well and never forget about your reader.”

-Markus Stadelmann-Elder
Director of Communications



Content Marketing for Nonprofits: A Communications Map for Engaging Your Community, Becoming a Favorite Cause, and Raising More Money, by Kivi Leroux Miller

Content Marketing for Nonprofits is a guide that explains how communication has fundamentally shifted with the adoption of content marketing in our current online, social landscape, and how nonprofits can take advantage of this shift. It’s relevant regardless of where you are on the journey to making your content more relevant and valuable to your stakeholders. What makes this book so effective and the reason it’s a must read is Kivi’s research and relevant examples from nonprofits of many shapes, sizes and sectors. We can all benefit from well-told stories about nonprofits doing communications and fundraising creatively and well.”

-Janet McCausland
Get it Done

*Look for Janet’s full review of Content Marketing for Nonprofits coming on Tuesday, November 12.



Content Strategy for the Web, by Kristina Halvorson

“While I’ve only gotten started reading it, Content Strategy for the Web is already a book I’d recommend to nonprofit marketers and communications staff (and I’m only on the first edition!). I’m a big fan of Kristina Halvorson. So, to have her knowledge and insight captured in a practical and well written book is a bonus. Before content marketing (the latest buzz) there is content strategy. No one likes to talk about strategy. Strategy is hard. It takes work. But the reality is that our marketing, fundraising, social media, engagement, donor relations and even our missions come from solid content. Because, if you know what you’re trying to say and to whom, the rest is obvious. Get it, read it. You need it.”

-Marco Campana
Communications Strategist



Cool Infographics: Effective Communication with Data Visualization and Design, by Randy Krum

“I am not tired of infographics. They are a terrific way to present information and more importantly, increase the likelihood of your audience reading your message. This year released their first book, fittingly named Cool Infographics. It is a comprehensive guide that covers everything you wanted to know about infographics. The book begins with the science behind them and why people find them so compelling and takes you through the steps to creating your own infographics, even an infographic resume. And of course, it includes plenty of examples of really cool infographics.”

-Suzanne Hallsworth
Community Giving & Communications Director
Oakville Hospital Foundation


What books are on your wish list? What must-reads do you recommend for nonprofit communicators?

Marlene Oliveira

Marlene Oliveira

Communications advisor and copywriter at moflow
Marlene Oliveira is communications consultant and copywriter at moflow and founder of the Nonprofit MarCommunity blog. Having worked in the nonprofit sector since 1999, Marlene specializes in working with capacity building and grant-making organizations, advising on communications strategy, and writing stories and other content.
Marlene Oliveira
Marlene Oliveira