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Showing 1-9 of 9 reviews(5 star)show all reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2011
A fantastic overview of the changing face of non profit management, structure, strategy and tactics. In addition to being a great read, full of inspiring ideas, the authors include ample resources, case studies and interviews to put practical tools into the hands of the readers. A must read for anyone working at or managing a non-profit. I particularly enjoyed reading about several distinctions drawn between running efficient business processes and creating an innovative nonprofit environment.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2011
Full disclosure: I know David Neff. Actually, I'm pretty sure that at least 60% of Austin knows David Neff, who is one of the most gregarious people I've met. He's constantly on social media, he was named the 2009 AMA/AMAF Social Media Marketer of the Year, and he is famous for his annual Mustache and Bad Sweater Party. He's spoken to my classes once or twice. And he's very passionate about nonprofits.

So I was happy to hear that David had teamed up with Randal Moss, with whom he had worked at the American Cancer Society, to write a book on the future of nonprofits. The Future of Nonprofits is definitely worth reading - not just for those in the nonprofit sector, but for anyone who is interested in opening their organization's culture up to innovation. Neff and Moss take a strategic approach, illustrated with cases from their own work and interviews with innovation leaders at nonprofits.

The authors cover a lot of ground here: they define innovation, discuss how to measure it, discuss how to build it into the organization's culture, and describe upcoming social and technological trends that will impact it. They give us lots of resources, from basic processes to sample job descriptions to advice on how to set up an innovation "Skunkworks." Their cases, interviews with innovation leaders in the nonprofit sector, and other examples are all illuminating. And the writing style makes the book a page-turner.

Although the authors talk about strategy, future trends, and principles, they also cover nuts-and-bolts decisions and resources. The book's not just full of ideas; it also covers practical issues and gives plenty of guidance.

With lists that predict trends of the next five years, obviously parts of this book will have a short shelf life. That just means you should buy it quickly. The other parts will age more gracefully, I think, and the book as a whole should be useful to nonprofits - but also to other organizations that prize high constituent engagement. If you're in the position to hire, innovate, or engage in your organization, consider picking it up.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2011
I first met David Neff at last fall's Texas Nonprofit Summit, where he gave a presentation on social media trends and the ways nonprofits can take advantage of them to promote their mission. The room was packed, and he rocked it. So when I heard he had co-written a book, I immediately added it to my "must-read" list. I'm glad I did.

David Neff and Randal Moss pick up where Dan Pallotta leaves off. In Uncharitable, Pallotta asked readers to think critically about the ways outdated ideologies and illogical assumptions restrain nonprofit productivity and effectiveness. Neff and Moss take up one of Pallotta's key claims--that nonprofits must be encouraged to innovate--and compellingly demonstrate how a culture of innovation can be achieved in the digital age.

The Future of Nonprofits is chock-full of interviews with nonprofit professionals and case studies that show how they applied technology in revolutionary, productive, profitable ways. While nonprofit professionals and volunteers are clearly the primary audience, academics who research and teach about nonprofits will be equally engaged. Neff and Moss recognize that digital tools are the latest in a long line of technologies that have fundamentally altered the structure of community, providing challenges but also new opportunities for fundraisers and PR teams. By discussing social media within this context, the authors are not just providing interesting background; they are helping readers see that all messages are rhetorically situated, that the choice of medium is critical, and that audiences who spend significant amounts of time online are best approached there. Their approach allows readers to develop the necessary historical and critical perspective to recognize trends, anticipate change, and consider how nonprofits, by harnessing power of social media, can take advantage of both.

I'm certainly adding this book to the syllabus for my Writing for Nonprofits class!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2011
I received this book as a prize for commenting on a Facebook status thread for Start Some Good. The very notion of my receiving this book is rooted in the items discussed in the book!

The book seems to take every opportunity, from every angle possible, to tell any nonprofit: "The time to innovate is now. Create a culture for innovation. Create the structure for the culture to thrive within. Create a program to empower the structure undergirded by a culture of innovation..."

The truth is that nonprofits need to start seeing themselves more as ventures than as charities. Sustainability is at the forefront. Community-based empowerment is gaining traction. The nonprofit is becoming less of "that which hands things out" and more "that which gives a hand up." This book hammers that home so very well through real examples from the experience of the authors, as well as through vignettes showing how change is a constant in every time period.

My one concern about the book was that it would quickly devolve into yet another social media ra-ra fest with the subtitle "Create your Facebook, YouTube, & Twitter accounts today!" Far from it, the focus is on the core of who you are as a nonprofit, and elbowing you in the side to ensure you're thinking about the systemic things, the long-term legacy things, that will determine your effectiveness.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2011
As someone who has always worked in the for-profit sphere, it was interesting to delve into a brand new industry, and Neff and Moss do a fantastic job of presenting the challenges and future solutions in an accessible, illuminating, and often humorous way.

This book delves into the future of non-profits, and what they need to do in order to change their outlook in order to maintain relevance and sustainability in the future. They use insight, examples, research, and an inspiring holistic outlook to review the subject.

This book is not just good for non-profiteers, but there are a lot of for-profit companies that need to push themselves as well, and would be well served to read and learn.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 2011
I was first introduced to author David Neff at the 2010 Governor's Nonprofit Leadership Conference. I had heard of him around the nonprofit scene but until then had no direct experience with him or his work. I was privileged to hear his presentation with partner in crime Matt Glazer on the power of social media. It went well beyond the basics, digging into strategies, tactics and case studies. At the time he mentioned that he was was working on a book but hey, isn't everyone? Despite his obvious brilliance, I had no idea that what he would produce with co-author Randal Moss would be such a master work.

The Future of Nonprofits, Innovate and Thrive in the Digital Age is nothing short of magnificent - content rich with a fluid, confident, laid back (Austin) style.

Each section is logically laid out and includes case studies, tips and tricks as well as a neat summary at the end. The meat is all about the mechanics of innovation - why is it important? How do you do it? Does innovation automatically happen when someone has an idea? It's work and more than that, it's team work that turns an idea into something real.

Neff and Moss have drawn us a road map for innovation, illustrating it beautifully through stories, interviews and case studies that break up the text and compliment the flow. As I was reading, it felt as if I was at the table with the experts they interviewed, following a conversation from one idea to the next. Instead of the usual dry citations we get rich conversations.

I walked away after reading The Future of Nonprofits not only with clear strategy for helping my nonprofit, Austin Free-Net do what we are already doing, better - but a blueprint for innovation that will hold true in whatever age (digital or something as yet unimagined) yet to come.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2011
Innovation. Innovation. Innovation. Change. Move forward. Adapt. These are big themes in nonprofits - all organizations - these days. Especially innovation (hence stating it three times). The product, services and constituent landscape is changing very quickly.

How do organizations keep up? How, really, do they stay at all relevant in the eyes of their community, members, donors and clients?

Innovation is a key piece to be sure. And innovation - what it is, how to support it and how to make it work for organizations today - is the core of The Future of Nonprofits: Innovate and Thrive in the Digital Age by David Neff and Randal Moss.

This is a book well worth getting into the hands of your executive director, board chair, other leaders and, well, give it a read yourself while you're at it (assuming you're not one of those head honcho types). Fact of the matter is that innovation can and should be pushed from all corners of organizations - every staff person, volunteer, board member and constituent. But, as Neff and Moss point out, "real" innovation must have leadership buy-in and ongoing support.

You see, innovation is not just about new features - a tweak here or there. Or, to use one of their examples, one more cup holder in the back seat. Innovation is about changes that produce measurable benefit to mission over time. And that will take full commitment to what they describe as the Three Pillars of Innovation:

- Awareness
- Structure
- Staffing

Having worked in, with and around nonprofits and campaigns for 20+ years now I feel qualified to also identify "Structure" as one of the core elements of innovation (or stagnation). There are, of course, endless ways to approach structure in a nonprofit or any organization. And there is no one right way to structure staffing and collaboration to nurture innovation.

Lots of organizations talk about supporting innovation but few are able to listen to, process and help nurture ideas from staff and volunteers. It takes a structure to support that - one that clears away enough room for people to be creative, interact and move forward with intention...a sense that new ideas are just there to spin in the wind and provide amusement but could really have support from colleagues and leaders.

It is worth noting that much of the book is contextualized around social media. This channel/medium/amalgamation of networks that is social media has presented organizations with some great challenges and it is a great opportunity to innovate and thrive. Or not. Social media seems a good choice as far as a narrative framework and the reader will take away good ideas and tangibles to apply to their social media work regardless of the larger innovation topic.

To dispel any lingering notion that this book is "simply" an academic look at innovation - like, perhaps, so many biz books out there - the authors bring us great appendices with worksheets to help you review organizational readiness, pertinent job descriptions (for staffing and structure) and even some cartoons. Well, you'll have to check those out for yourself.

All in all a strong effort and good addition to the reading list of anyone trying to increase organizational success or simply work better in this fast-changing world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2011
Yes. Yes it is. In fact, many of the same principles used in growing and managing a for-profit business can be applied to NPO's. I agree with the authors who say it's high time that they were.

This book is written by two people who are obviously very enthusiastic about the BUSINESS of non-profits. NPO's aren't just about Mission Statements and Event Planning--they are about organizing people and solving real problems. Neff and Moss scoff at the typical politically-addled, academic non-profit culture and set their ideal as something much, much more ambitious.

The authors' recommend bringing cutting edge tools to non-profits to make them more competitive, efficient and useful to the people they are serving. Their method is nothing short of revolutionary. Neff and Moss not only advocate treating non-profits like *real* businesses, but they go so far as to suggest they operate as cutting-edge innovators by investing in technology and new media tools, and by encouraging all staff and volunteers to be part of the process of innovation.

Every part of your organization can benefit from this book--fundraising, IT/technical support, data administration, public relations, communications--the whole gang should read this and get on the same page. It's not a cookie-cutter plan for implementing changes--it's a set of principles that you can tailor to your organizations' own culture and leverage your talent, resources and community to achieve you mission in ways you only dreamed possible.

It's time for the non-profit world to START THEIR ENGINES. This book is a checkered flag.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2011
These guys have hit upon something that is essential to those who want to help make the world a better place through innovation in a new generation. The book also explores the nexus between innovation and nonprofit advancement and how social media will change nonprofits in the next five years. They also provide a blueprint for how nonprofits can change and prosper in a new environment where communication and community engagement is becoming an obstacle for many older nonprofits. I'm also a big fan of case studies to truly understand the problem and solution and this book does a wonderful job of utilizing that paradigm.

At the end of the day The Future of Nonprofits is a book that helps nonprofits do more things that are relevant faster, less expensive, and drive key business metrics to help the organization feel better about the direction they are headed because it lays out a map to achieve innovation and sustainable change. There are many books out there about nonprofits and how to make them better. This book, however, delivers the message of change and sustainability in a way that is truly relevant to today's society.
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