Each summer I like to call readers' attention to books and periodicals that they should be aware of (and may even enjoy). My experience is that even the most laid-back nonprofit executive has a hard time mediating the guilt of a work-free vacation.
So, why not take along some professional reading material and keep it at the bottom of your suitcase? For the first few days you can always tell yourself that you will eventually get to it, while you enjoy the latest Tom Clancy thriller at Ocean City.
For the past few years, I have received a quarterly publication from Jossey-Bass Publishers entitled Nonprofit Management and Leadership. Jossey-Bass carries a full line of titles for the nonprofit community, several of which have been reviewed in past columns.
"Nonprofit Management" is intended for a scholarly audience, and serves as a convenient publication vehicle for university faculty, research institutes and others interested in a more scholarly exploration of the issues affecting the nonprofit community. However, I find that many of the articles in it are suitable for practicing professionals -- executive directors, resource development professionals and consultants who need to keep abreast of cutting edge research in their field.
The most recent issue (Summer, 1994), for example, contains two research pieces that practitioners should find interesting. One deals with the governance of nonprofit organizations. It begins with a balanced review of governance concepts related to both for-profit and nonprofit institutions, then proposes fundamental shifts in governance based on a review of the literature. For one, the authors, both university faculty members, propose the establishment of state offices of nonprofit organizations (ONO) which would act as advocacy agents for the clients of nonprofits, as well as fulfill other duties related to the nonprofit sector.
A second article I found stimulating was one dealing with the need for nonprofits to embrace total quality management techniques.
This one was written by an academic and two practitioners. Using a case study of a United Way organization, the authors make a persuasive case for the need for nonprofits to embrace TQM, citing both academic literature and real-life examples. In concluding, the authors recommend that a TQM clearinghouse be established focusing on the needs of nonprofit organizations, a quality award similar to the Malcolm Baldridge Awards be established for the nonprofit sector, and additional research continue into effective TQM practices.
The journal also has a local link. Several issues have included articles from researchers at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies -- not unexpectedly, given the university's prominence in this arena.
Each issue also includes book reviews, primarily focusing on scholarly works, and short research reports about what is happening on the research front lines.
There also is a commentary section, which enables both researchers and practitioners to sound off on items of concern facing the sector. A bulletin board posts events that would be of interest to researchers.
Earlier issues this year covered such diverse topics as creating trust with major donors, leadership as an art form, culture and change in nonprofit boards, the board-executive director relationship, program evaluation, and the supply of volunteer labor. Each piece combines hard research and reviews of the literature, with the author's academic perspectives which, depending on your personal bias, may or may not be seen as particularly helpful.
Nonprofit Management and Leadership is available from Jossey-Bass Publishers (415) 433-1767. Annual subscriptions are $47 for individuals paying by personal check and $76 for institutions. Volume 4, which ends with the Summer 1994 issue, contains 506 pages, including a detailed index.
Les Picker is a philanthropy consultant. Write to him at the Brokerage, 34 Market Place, Suite 331, Baltimore, Md. 21202; (410) 783-5100