Denise McMahan

Denise McMahan is founder and publisher of CausePlanet, a thriving one-of-a-kind professional development website for busy nonprofit leaders who want to stay informed about essential reading through Page to Practice™ book summaries, author interviews and relevant discussion by peer contributors. Denise dedicated much of her early career to fundraising in academia and experiential education where she was twice recognized for innovation and model account, raising millions of dollars and surpassing client goals. McMahan equally enjoyed working on client side, coaching major gift volunteers and mobilizing unrestricted giving to reach unprecedented participation. In addition to overseeing CausePlanet, McMahan is a writer for nonprofit and corporate clients. Read her blog at or email her at

A counterintuitive approach to pressure can help you manage the moment

If you’ve ever let pressure take control, you’re not alone. Working on behalf of a nonprofit can create all sorts of potentially stressful situations. But no matter the scenario, Performing Under Pressure’s Hank Weisinger emphasizes the importance of managing the pressure you feel rather than try to resist or ignore it. In fact, Weisinger encourages us... Read more

Why is failure your ally and how do you get better at it?

We recently added Fail Better: Design Smart Mistakes and Succeed Sooner to our summary library because it addresses a critical gap in the body of work around failure. According to coauthor, Kara Penn, Fail Better explores HOW failure is a path to success. We asked Penn about how you can make failure your ally, and... Read more

Tired of the same fundraising ideas getting repurposed? Get global.

  While many philanthropists, nonprofit leaders and fundraisers have an eye on proven practices among the usual suspects in North America and Europe, many charities both giant and small, inside and outside these regions are exhibiting innovative methods worthy of global attention. Author Jeff Brooks distills seven trends found outside of these regions in his review... Read more

Inject soul into your use of technology

Leroux Miller’s comprehensive guide to curating content is the cornerstone to creating a climate of followers engaged in your organization’s fundraising and brandraising. The author’s vast number of nonprofit examples and specific guidance on why it’s important to create your content identity, build a plan based on your constituents’ preferences, and map out a functional... Read more

Content marketing for nonprofits: Don’t forget to rinse and repeat

The number of tools and the amount of noise around us grow by the day. With choice comes complexity, and our environment changes constantly, due to technological, generational and marketing shifts. Redefine your audience for today’s current climate with the help of author Kivi Leroux Miller. Content Marketing for Nonprofits: A Communications Map for Engaging... Read more

Set your team up for success in 9 minutes

Want to change up your Monday and empower your team? It takes nine minutes. Empower your employees without adding hours to your plate. The nine principles found in this book summary will ignite the engagement, motivation, morale and trust among you team members and will result in greater efficiency and higher levels of productivity. When... Read more

Nonprofit fundraising: True generosity is rooted in relatedness

One of our most recent additions to the CausePlanet summary library is The Generosity Network by Jennifer McCrea, Jeffrey C. Walker and Karl Weber. We liked their approach to fundraising because it’s not another book about how to be a more persuasive salesperson, how to leverage tactics and strategies, or how to find and leverage... Read more

Announcing CausePlanet’s Choice Award winners: Our top books for nonprofit leaders

It’s my favorite time of year for many reasons. One of which is that my team at CausePlanet enjoys reflecting on the books we reviewed in 2016 for nonprofit leaders. Here are some of our favorites among them. It goes without saying that this is an incredibly tough process because we don’t review a book to... Read more

Avoid the 2-year website relaunch cycle: Look at ROI and mission

If you’re looking to improve your website, you’re not alone. According to Captivate and Engage coauthors, Jay Wilkinson and Randy Hawthorne, nonprofits relaunch their websites about every two years. This is due to several factors. Are “go-to geeks” the answer? Primarily, nonprofits hire website designers whom the authors affectionately call “go-to-geeks.” These professionals are tech-savvy... Read more

Who says you can’t get smart on National Taco Day?

It’s National Taco Day today and you’re probably wondering what tacos have to do with great books for nonprofit leaders. Well, it turns out a lot. Before I share our CausePlanet spin on tacos, I’ll give you a little context. At, history professor Jeffrey Pilcher suggests that the taco originated around the 18th century in... Read more

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