We’re happy to share some of our favorite books for nonprofits, social innovators, visionaries, philanthropists, and do-gooders.
In addition to working with nonprofits and social enterprises around the world for the past 15 years, attorney Mollie Cullinane also enjoys teaching “Social Entrepreneurship” at Texas Lutheran University. Here are some books enjoyed in the classes.
Start Something That Matters, by Blake Mycoskie
The incredible story of the man behind TOMS Shoes and One for One, the revolutionary business model that marries fun, profit, and social good.
Love your work, work for what you love, and change the world—all at the same time.
What matters most to you? Should you focus on earning a living, pursuing your passions, or devoting yourself to the causes that inspire you? The surprising truth is that you don’t have to choose—and that you’ll find more success if you don’t. That’s the breakthrough message of TOMS’ One for One movement. You don’t have to be rich to give back and you don’t have to retire to spend every day doing what you love. You can find profit, passion, and meaning all at once—right now.
“A creative and open-hearted business model for our times.”—The Wall Street Journal
The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change, by Adam Braun
The riveting story of how a young man turned $25 into more than 200 schools around the world and the guiding steps anyone can take to lead a successful and significant life.
LinkedIn’s “Can’t-Miss Business Books for Spring and Summer” – “A playbook for aspiring social entrepreneurs, offering a vision for uniting business and philanthropy around a “for-purpose” mission powered by social media.”
“Adam nails a truth we live by. The biggest difference between the person who lives their dream and the person who continues to dream is their decision to take the first step–even if the second step is unknown. Honest and entertaining. A great read.” – #1 New York Times bestselling author and co-creator of The Buried Life –
Banker to the Poor – Microlending and the battle against world poverty, by Muhammad Yunus
In 1983, Muhammad Yunus established Grameen, a bank devoted to providing the poorest of Bangladesh with minuscule loans. Twenty-three years later they won the Nobel Prize for Peace for their work in eradicating poverty. This is an inspiring story of one man’s realization that access to even a small amount of credit can transform the lives of the poorest citizens of the world.
Yunus aimed to help the poor by supporting the spark of personal initiative and enterprise by which they could lift themselves out of poverty forever. It was an idea born on a day in 1976 when he loaned $27 from his own pocket to forty-two people living in a tiny village. These micro-entrepreneurs only needed enough credit to purchase the raw materials for their trade. Yunus’s small loan helped them break the cycle of poverty for good. His solution to world poverty, founded on the belief that credit is a fundamental human right, is brilliantly simple: lend poor people money on terms that are suitable to them, teach them a few sound financial principles, and they will help themselves.
Yunus’s theories work. Grameen Bank has provided loans totaling six billion dollars to seven million families in rural Bangladesh. Today, more than 250 institutions in nearly 100 countries operate micro-credit programs based on the Grameen methodology, placing Grameen at the forefront of a burgeoning world movement toward eradicating poverty through micro-lending.
“Yunus—a man of vision, practical ability, and drive—has written a charming and often moving autobiography about how he came to be one of the most celebrated anti-poverty campaigners of our era.” —Finance
“The Grameen Bank idea has helped millions worldwide to better their lives: Take good people with little wealth but lots of energy and vision, add in good faith, sound rules about lending money, and some good principles to live by, and you have a recipe for prosperity.” —Parade Magazine
Raising the Bar: Integrity and Passion in Life and Business: The Story of Clif Bar Inc., by Gary Erikson
In April of 2000, Gary Erickson turned down a $120 million offer to buy his thriving company. Today, instead of taking it easy for the rest of his life and enjoying a luxurious retirement, he’s working harder than ever. Why would any sane person pass up the financial opportunity of a lifetime? Raising the Bar tells the amazing story of Clif Bar’s Gary Erickson and shows that some things are more important than money.
The book tells the unusual and inspiring story about following your passion, the freedom to create, sustaining a business over the long haul, and living responsibly in your community and on the earth. Raising the Bar chronicles Clif Bar’s ascent from a homemade energy bar to a $100 million phenomenon with an estimated 35 million consumers, and a company hailed by Inc. magazine as one of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. four years in a row.
If you are a manager, executive, business owner, or board member, Raising the Bar is your personal guide to corporate integrity. If you are a sports enthusiast, environmentalist, adventure lover, intrigued by a unique corporate culture, or just interested in a good story, Raising the Bar is for you.
The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World, by Jacqueline Novogratz
The Blue Sweater is the inspiring story of a woman who left a career in international banking to spend her life on a quest to understand global poverty and find powerful new ways of tackling it. It all started back home in Virginia, with the blue sweater, a gift that quickly became her prized possession—until the day she outgrew it and gave it away to Goodwill. Eleven years later in Africa, she spotted a young boy wearing that very sweater, with her name still on the tag inside. That the sweater had made its trek all the way to Rwanda was ample evidence, she thought, of how we are all connected, how our actions—and inaction—touch people every day across the globe, people we may never know or meet.
The Real Problem Solvers: Social Entrepreneurs in America, by Ruth Shapiro
Today, “social entrepreneurship” describes a host of new initiatives, and often refers to approaches that are breaking from traditional philanthropic and charitable organizational behavior. Nowhere is this more true than in the United States—where, from 1995–2005, the number of non-profit organizations registered with the IRS grew by 53%. But, what types of change have these social entrepreneurial efforts brought to the world of civil society and philanthropy? What works in today’s environment? And, what barriers are these new efforts breaking down as they endeavor to make the world a better place?
The Real Problem Solvers brings together leading entrepreneurs, funders, investors, thinkers, and champions in the field to answer these questions from their own, first-person perspectives. Contributors include marquee figures, such as Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus, Ashoka Founder Bill Drayton, Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder of the Acumen Fund, and Sally Osberg, CEO of the Skoll Foundation. The core chapters are anchored by an introduction, a conclusion, and question-and-answers sections that weave together the voices of various contributors. In no other book are so many leaders presented side-by-side. Therefore, this is the ideal accessible and personal introduction for students of and newcomers to social entrepreneurship.
These books are just some that we have enjoyed recently. Here’s a link to a few more: Books for Do-Gooders – Favorites for Nonprofits + Social Enterprises.