KICKSTART SEPTEMBER WITH INSPIRING BOOKS!

What makes the summer holiday, or any other holiday, even more enjoyable is that it gives you time and space to relax. Many of us grab a novel, a collection of poems or a practical book and immerse ourselves in it. Over the past months, our team read or re-read a few books that we think you would love too!

While summer is ending, let’s kickstart your September with inspiring readings, directly or indirectly connected to the NGO and fundraising sector. From practical insights to Science-Fiction, our team members share which book was or still is on their bedside tables!

Summary

Alison Green and Jerry Hauser explain why getting results should also be every nonprofit manager′s priority. Through easy-to-read sections and multiple examples, Managing to Change the World teaches the fundamental skills of effective management. From managing specific tasks and broader responsibilities; to setting clear SMART goals and holding people accountable to them; creating a results–oriented culture; hiring, developing, and retaining a staff of superstars.

Why Claire liked it

This book defends the idea that for leaders at social purpose organizations, good intentions are not enough. Indeed, non-profit organizations have a higher morale obligation to achieve their goals than for-profit ones, as those goals directly contributes to effectively fulfilling their charitable mission. This book is not only about getting results, but about how to create a team of dedicated staff members who feel empowered, valued and responsible for making a difference.

Key learnings

Getting results is not in contradiction with creating a dedicated team of responsible professionals who share a common goal: the organization’s charitable mission.

Summary

Doughnut Economics offers a radically new compass for guiding global development, government policy, and corporate strategy, and sets new standards for what economic success looks like. The book presents novel economic models that measure their performance by the extent to which the needs of people are met without overshooting Earth’s ecological ceiling. The key question is the following: How can we turn economies that need to grow, whether or not they make us thrive, into economies that make us thrive, whether or not they grow?

Why Thomas liked it

In this book, the author provides a new world view. She speaks to the sneaking suspicious/realization that things could really be much different than they are. Therefore, she gives “ammunition” for the debate against the notion that growth is an absolute necessity.

Key learnings

We have to rethink the first principles of economics and what the economy is supposed to do.

Summary

In The Culture Map, INSEAD professor Erin Meyer is your guide through this subtle terrain in which people from truly different backgrounds are expected to work harmoniously together. She provides a field-tested model for decoding how cultural differences impact international business, and combines a smart analytical framework with practical, actionable advice.

Why Elsi liked it

I was attracted by this book as I deal with cultural diversity daily. My colleagues are from up to 8 different nationalities, and my clients based in over 25 countries! In this book, I learned how to identify differences in cultures in a working environment and how to best deal with them. I also enjoyed Erinn Meyer’s style and her ability to share compelling anecdotes that made this book even more insightful, practical and fun.

Key learnings

The author developed an easy-to-use framework that shows overlaps and differences on how cultures communicate, deal with feedback or leadership. I found this tool extremely valuable as it not only compares a culture with your own, but with all those in your team.

Summary

This book describes the importance of dignity within the framework of conflict resolution. The author discusses the elements of dignity and provides examples of the ways in which dignity is so often violated. She also emphasizes how great the cost is to the growth and progress of our society. She argues that without an emphasis on respect for dignity, humanity will be unable to find peace coexistence.

Why Emily liked it

Hicks puts language and science to something that I had always worked to carry out in my daily life. To treat each person as a human being, who deserves respect and acknowledgement – even if we disagree or are in very different positions within society. She argues that the desire for dignity is universal and powerful. This desire is a motivating force behind all human interaction. When human dignity is respected, it leads to deeper connections between people. These messages deeply resonated with me. Not only could I relate them to my work in international human rights, but also to my personal life and the interactions and relationships that I fostered.

Key learnings

I recommend reading Diginity for yourself as soon as you can! For individuals working in international development it can be particularly powerful as we navigate cultural, religious, and societal differences within countries that we work with – and in general for anyone that interacts with humans daily (hint, that means everyone!). 

Summary

Asking for a pay rise, saying ‘no’ to your boss, asking a favor or apologizing for a mistake can be a horrendous nightmare. Difficult Conversations teaches us to work through these exchanges by understanding that we are not engaging in one dialogue but three. The “what happened” conversation, the “feelings” conversation, and the “identity” conversation. The first refers to what do we believe was said and done. The second to the emotional impact on everyone involved. The third to what it means for everyone’s opinion of themselves.

Why Alexandra liked it

This book lays out practical steps on how to have productive difficult conversations that benefit all parties involved. These steps are applicable in various situations, including dealing with clients. It shows you how to prepare for a conversation before it happens and guide the conversation while it is happening. Above all, it teaches you how to walk away with all parties feeling understood.

Summary

In this book, Peter Singer introduces a movement that promotes to live a fully ethical life: effective altruism. It shows how you can maximize your positive contribution to society by making well-advised choices in career and lifestyle. Which also includes charitable giving.

Why Maarten liked it

Most of us are aware these days that the choices we make in our everyday lives directly or indirectly affect the well-being of society. However, there is very limited insight in which choices do most wrong and which do most good. This book gives insightful, sometimes provoking and rather counter-intuitive guidelines on which choices do most good.

Key learnings

I used to buy fair trade products in an attempt to contribute to a fairer world. Thanks to the insights of this book, I quit buying fair trade and donate the money I save to charities that are proven to effectively tackle poverty.

Summary

Mastering the Art of Negotiation goes beyond deal-making situations. It defends that it is possible and necessary to create value together, distribute the consequences fairly, while strengthening the relationship. The book gives seven practical guides that help you prepare and manage negotiations at moments when the complexity and uncertainty increase. These guides create a comprehensive framework for your ongoing learning and development as a negotiator.

Why Han liked it

This book offers concrete tools to get better results in negotiations, and we are negotiating all the time! With funders, partners, colleagues and even at home – whether we are aware of it or not. In a compelling and accessible way, the author teaches insights based on the Harvard negotiation principles that were developed by William Ury and others decades ago.

Key learnings

The most important take away for me is that a negotiation is only successful if all parties involved benefit from it – contrary to commonly acknowledged where the winner usually takes it all. I also learned that it is essential to know you BAFTA – Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement. Indeed, it enables you to be in control, even if the negotiations you are in do not result in “success”.

Summary

Shevek, a brilliant physicist, is determined to reunite two sister planets, which have been divided by centuries of distrust. He will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have seperated them. His ambition is soon seen as a threat. In the profound conflict that ensues, he must reexamine his beliefs even as he ignites the fires of change.

Why Naz liked it

This book unusually disrupts the status quo by forcing us to envision alternatives, instead of simply highlighting its weaknesses. It makes us consider which forms of resistance could possibly lead to meaningful changes in an exploitative system.

Key learnings

“I come with empty hands and the desire to unbuild walls.” 

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