12 Good Reads For Your Not-For-Profit Career

Posted by | December 21, 2016 | Find your mission, Good stuff, How to be awesome at your job, Work tips

12 Good Reads For Your Not-For-Profit Career blog header

“The great thing about reading is that it broadens your life” –  George R.R. Martin (Author, Game of Thrones).

While Game of Thrones might have added some colour (and gore) to my life, there are a whole load more books which have broadened my not for profit career.  

Here is a compilation I’ve put together of Do Good Jobs must-reads. We’ve reviewed various books over the past few years, some for those preparing for a career makeover and others that help take your not for profit career to the next level. I hope to add to it as time goes by too, so please do add your comments if something has jumped out to you.

COMPETITION: Leave a comment and tell me what career or do good book you’d like to read, and go in to win it (closes end January 2017, NZ residents only sorry!).

Note: If you are keen to purchase these books, the links in this blog take you to our affiliate link with NZ retailer Fishpond to purchase, or if you are looking for a Kindle version, to Amazon affiliate links. Do Good Jobs earns a small commission from each book sold, which helps us produce even more good content for you.  

On career pivots and guidance 


#1. The Escape Manifesto: Quit Your Corporate Job – Do Something Different!  Have you ever wondered whether there is more to life than your corporate job? While not solely focused on the not for profit world, it’s an inspirational call to action to step off the corporate treadmill to find an exciting meaningful job, start your own business, or go on a big adventure. [Buy it for your Kindle here]

#2  What Colour is your parachute 2019 ?Known as the “Job Hunter’s Bible”, writer Richard Bolles has been credited with founding modern career counselling. His book is revised annually (so it’s relevant to today’s job hunter) and helps you to explore things like: which work environments suit you. Do you prefer open-plan offices or outside? Working alone with feedback, or part of a close-knit team? Which people do you generally work best with and what are their occupations? [Buy the book here or Kindle version available here]

#3. How to Find Fulfilling Work  A practical, inspirational and short guide to examining your career and deciding whether it truly makes you happy―this book will show you the steps it takes to find a job that truly makes you thrive. [Kindle version available here]

#4. The Idealist Guide to Nonprofit Careers for Sector Switchers (Hundreds of Heads Survival Guides). I love Idealist.org and this book give is a comprehensive resource for transitioning professionals pursuing new career options in the nonprofit sector. [Kindle version available here]



#5. So Good They Can’t Ignore You. People often say follow your passion, but author Cal Newport debunks this idea as good career advice.  He says passion often comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something, and not before.  He suggests instead mastering your skill first and gaining expertise, and enhancing your ability to see new opportunities important to the world that you can effectively solve. 

#6. Love Your Work: 4 Practical Ways You Can Pivot to Your Best Career (via Amazon) Whether you’re just starting out, looking for a change, or experiencing unwanted change, there’s a way forward. Love Your Work is about pivoting step by step to a more satisfying career.

 #7. 80,000 Hours: Find a fulfilling career that does good. (via Amazon/for Kindle) 80,000 hours is a great website about finding a fulfilling career that tackles the world’s most pressing problems, and now their work is condensed into a book!  This guide is based on five years of research alongside academics at Oxford.

On Creating Greater Impact

#8. Good to Great and the Social Sectors.  Jim Collins best seller Good to Great book addresses a single question: can a good company become a great company, and if so, how? Collins realised that 30-50% of those who bought Good to Great work in the Social Sector so has also written this version especially for those looking to take a not for profit to greatness.

#9. Forces for GoodWhat makes high-impact organisations so outstanding? The authors of this book spent years studying twelve powerhouse nonprofits to figure it out. They identify six practices that can be used by nonprofits of any size. [Kindle version here]

#10.  Charity Case: How the Nonprofit Community Can Stand Up For Itself and Really Change the World. This is a blueprint for a national leadership movement to transform the way the public thinks about giving by Dan Pallota (if you haven’t seen his Ted Talk you should go watch it now!). Dan talks about how virtually everything our society has been taught about charity is backwards. [Kindle version here]

#11. Rework. A great all-round book for entrepreneurs, those thinking of becoming one, or if you are looking to shake things up in your charity workplace. They challenge norms such as ‘meetings for the sake of meetings’, and that people who work overtime should not be given ‘hero’ status. Plus great insights which are also useful when preparing a job application. [Kindle version here]

#12. Start with WhyHow great leaders inspire great things because they start with the ‘why’ and they do what they do, instead of just focusing on what they do. [Kindle version here]

Tell us what books inspire you too – we’d love to hear!


4 Responses to “12 Good Reads For Your Not-For-Profit Career”

  1. Comment made by jenniferyoung on Dec 23rd 2016 at 7:08 pm:

    Hello! I’ve really enjoyed following your website for the last few months. I’m also a huge fan of the ‘School of Life’ website and would love to read ‘How to find fulfilling work’ (as well as the rest of the books too!)

  2. Comment made by Annagrace on Jan 12th 2017 at 6:37 pm:

    I would love to read all these books! I’ve only read the Escape Manifesto which was excellent. If I had to pick one, it would have to be ‘Start with Why’. Not only to gain great leadership skills but learn how to focus on the purpose behind what changes I want to make in the world.

  3. Comment made by Balmer on Jan 13th 2017 at 1:26 pm:

    Dan Pallota’s TED talk was the most powerful and convincing video I’ve watched about NGOs. I rewatch it every year to remind myself of Dan’s personal story and the damaging rhetoric of the pie chart. Reading his book would be fuel to the fire I think! Vu (who y’all introduced me to) explains it so well: http://nonprofitwithballs.com/2016/12/bragging-about-program-to-admin-ratios-is-a-destructive-practice-that-needs-to-die/

  4. Comment made by JustcallmeEddy on Jan 14th 2017 at 7:22 pm:

    Oh, I’d love to read all of these! Especially interested in the How to Find Fulfilling Work, which I’d hope would solidify my plans to change direction in my career.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.