Book Review: The Future of Nonprofits: Innovate and Thrive in the Digital Age

This is an inaugural post from The PR Channel’s “Book Review Series.” From time-to-time, we will share with you a business-related book that we feel really provides value to our readers.

“The only constant is change” – Heraclitus, Greek philosopher

A very appropriate opener chosen by co-authors David J. Neff and Randall Moss for their book, The Future of Nonprofits: Innovate and Thrive in the Digital Age. Leaders in the nonprofit and social technology world, Neff and Moss reveal how the future of innovation, internal entrepreneurship, fundraising and social media communications will radically reshape the landscape of nonprofits in the next five years. The lessons learned in this book can be equally applied to small business owners and entrepreneurs.

What’s in It
Neff and Moss do not lecture you in this book. Instead, they have written a very easy-to-read book that uses case studies, expert interviews, and concrete examples to map out ways to successfully affect change within any sized organization.

Part 1 of the book (Chapters 1 – 4) is an introduction to and definition of the idea of innovation, offering clearly laid out examples and strategies. The information in these chapters is meant to be used as a roadmap for your organization that helps identify challenges in order to begin casting a future for your organization.

Part 2 (Chapters 5-7 ) takes the reader through the three pillars of innovation: awareness, structure and staffing. No matter the size of your organization, these are key elements for successfully addressing change and adopting innovation, both internally and externally.

Part 3 (Chapters 8-11) identifies techniques for implementing change and things to consider for the future. This section the “icing on the cake with sprinkles, too”. Social media, new fundraising techniques, and the future of communications is also addressed.

Throughout these sections, Neff and Moss show readers:

  • Why innovation is stifled at the average nonprofit – and how to change that
  • How to hire, train, manage and inspire “internal entrepreneurial” employees – the kind who push mercilessly toward trends of the future
  • What the future of fundraising looks like
  • How to engage volunteers through Twitter, Flickr, geotagging, and iPhone apps
  • Case studies of some of the most innovative campaigns

Who Should Read It
According to the authors, “This book is for anyone who is passionate about finding a better way to work and anyone looking for a way to find the right questions to ask and desperate to find the answers.”

While the book is focused on the non-profit sector, any small business owner, entrepreneur or solopreneur will gain value from the information in The Future of Nonprofits.

As Neff and Moss point out, innovation derives power, value and utility from the broad-based engagement of every participant in an organization. In other words, buy-in from every participant is necessary to successfully implement innovation. This could be your customers, your clients, your supporters, your boss or your Board.

How to Get the Most Out of It
The Future of Nonprofits acts as a step-by-step guide for successfully preparing your organization to adopt change, become innovative and develop “internal entrepreneurs” (the employee who is the early adopter and thinks a bit out of the box ) as they will be the ones to grow revenue and drive home your mission with every touch point.

Read the chapters in order, follow the exercises, read the case studies, and use the book as a foundation to build a case for those in your organization who will need buy-in for your ideas.

I also recommend visiting the book’s website and checking out the additional resources listed and join their mailing list for updates.

Where to Get It
The Future of Nonprofits will be released in May, 2011. The book will be available at major retailers like Amazon, Borders and Barnes and Noble, as well as at Book People in Austin, TX. Visit the website to preorder your copy.

You can view a video trailer for the book by clicking here .

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3 Responses

  1. Thank you to David Neff for offering The PR Channel the honor of being among the first to review The Future of Nonprofits (and thanks for that great review, Andrea). These guys are smart. Listen to them.

    I got a chance to peek at the first couple chapters of this book as well, and I can’t wait to read the rest and learn the art of futuring (as they call it). I’ve worked my share of years in the non-profit sector, which was (to me) a cozy little complacent place to hang out. Now–thanks to the digital/social age–it’s a place of true innovation and change. If you ever worked with non-profits because you wanted to move mountains, now you ACTUALLY can. Really big, significant mountains. Holy heck, what a difference a decade can make.

    BTW, from what I see thus far, this book is crammed with great case studies. I love great case studies. Thank you for that, Dave and Randy!

    • Andrea Schulle says:

      LuAnn – there is SO much packed into this book, it is hard to do it justice in 500 to 600 words! And as someone who actively volunteers with nonprofits, I can attest to the fact that if they remain “cozy little complacent places to hang out,” they will not thrive in today’s digital age. This book is truly something that needed to be written now!

  2. David J. Neff says:

    Thanks a lot ladies! We really enjoy what you are trying to do here on the PR Channel. All of us are entrepreneurs and together we move mountains!

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