What's on your summer holiday VCS reading list?
I've just departed NCVO Towers for a couple of weeks, but in order to confirm the prejudices of my team (that I have a work addiction problem) and deny another vicious rumour circulating the building (I don't read books), I thought I would start a conversation about what I intend to read whilst, er, playing with the kids and even more unlikely, going to the gym. It would be good if you could then add your suggestions. I should probably say at this point that I am a bit of an Atlanticist - my list is entirely North American - and I am not one of those book reading serial monogamists. So I've got a few on the go at the same time. Here goes:
1. The Networked Nonprofit (Beth Kanter and Alison Fine)
If all this social media stuff like Twitter and Facebook seems newfangled, then this book will sort you out. It is clear. It is exciting. It has real examples. It will tell you the most basic stuff. It will also tell you the more subtle stuff. I can't say much more than what Seth Godin says about it: Urgent! Read this book! Take notes! Take action! Well Mr Godin, I am reading it and I am taking notes for the first time since reading the Wife of Bath's Tale. (By the way, if anyone at NCVO Towers is reading this, how about we start selling this through NCVO and invite Messrs Kanter and Fine over here for some workshops?)
2. Uncharitable (Dan Pallotta)
The fundraisers among you will know Dan Pallotta as he has attended a few IoF conventions as a keynote speaker. I haven't started on this yet, but it comes strongly recommended. Pallotta is controversial (eg on nonprofit salaries), a not unhandy characteristic when it comes to selling books. Nevertheless, his arguments - that charities should use the tools and approaches of for-profit organisations, including paying large salaries to the best staff - deserve an airing. Even if only to refute them.
3. Billions of drops in millions of buckets (By Steve Goldberg)
This is another book that I've started that not everyone is going to agree with, or indeed that I am going to agree with, but it's still worth reading I reckon. Goldberg highlights some emotionally difficult issues for supporters of voluntary action, in particular the challenge that the resources devoted to charitable causes are spread too thinly amongst too many organisations. Goldberg observes that "...though the aggregate amount of philanthropy is substantial, most nonprofit organizations don’t receive enough money to move the needle of social change. In fact, 90% of the roughly 2 million U.S. nonprofits raise less than $1 million annually. Nonprofit funding isn’t just a “drop in the bucket,” it’s billions of drops in millions of buckets" This is something I've blogged about before (this includes a debate with an ex-colleague, whose comments are valuable). I've only read the first couple of chapters but I think its interesting stuff, particularly as in the UK Goldberg's analysis relates to organisations raising less than £10k.
4. The UK Civil Society Almanac 2010 (by NCVO's Geek Squad)
Simply the best book ever written. About UK Civil Society organisations, what they do, and how they are resourced. Though do not let my in-no-way-biased opinion of this publication somehow lead you to infer that my first three reviews are also biased...
Over to you. What are you reading? Either respond here or tell me via Twitter: http://twitter.com/karlwilding
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Karl Wilding, Head of Policy, Research, and Foresight discusses the research reports that land on his desk and other research related topics.