Podcast: Reynolds on “Nonprofit-KnowHow”

We are interviewing authors of intriguing leadership and nonprofit texts to showcase more recommendations and best practices. Join us for our conversation with Rebecca Reynolds, author of “Nonprofit-KnowHow,” which was nominated for the 2012 Terry McAdam Book Award. Whether you’re a seasoned executive director or a new board member, you can benefit from Rebecca Reynolds’ Guide and Workbook, “Nonprofit-KnowHow.”

After 20 years of consulting experience in the sector, Reynolds decided to publish helpful information (the Guide) and tools (the Workbook) she had used to assist nonprofits to further their missions. This comprehensive two-volume manual integrates the theory and practice of nonprofit management subjects such as board governance, strategic planning, finance and fundraising. All her materials have been tested with hundreds of nonprofit organizations and can be referenced again and again.

Podcast: Listen to Reynolds discuss her invaluable resource, “Nonprofit-KnowHow,” in her own words here.


KR: Welcome to CausePlanet’s book preview series. I’m Kris Rutledge. I’m talking today with Rebecca Reynolds, author of Nonprofit-KnowHow. She is going to discuss her guide and workbook. Rebecca, thanks so much for joining us.

RR: Thank you, Kris.

KR: Could you start off by giving us an overview of Nonprofit-Knowhow?

RR: I’d be happy to. I began my 20-year consulting career working exclusively with nonprofits and I worked with hundreds of organizations of all sizes and missions. But, over the past five years or so, my work has taken a different direction. It really bothered me that all that material I had developed over years of consulting that had been so effective with my clients was just sitting there gathering digital dust. So, at the beginning of 2012 I decided to sit down and put it all together in an easy-to-use format to give broad access to this knowledge for nonprofits. So, Nonprofit-Knowhow is actually a comprehensive, direct and hopefully easy-to-use manual for effective leadership and management of nonprofit organizations. There are two parts to Nonprofit-Knowhow: the Guide and the Workbook. The Guide explains the important concepts and practices of the nonprofit sector that are often unknown or misunderstood. This know-how I’ve found makes the difference between a struggling nonprofit and a high-functioning one. The Workbook, on the other hand, is the action tool of the duo. Once the concepts and practices are clear, the next step is implementing. So the Workbook includes tools to make that implementation easy. For example, it has samples of other clients’ work to show exactly how something is done, like to develop a budget or to prepare a fundraising report. There are templates that people can fill in the blanks and go. There are exercises on how to do something like determine what contribution level board members should give. There are checklists, glossaries, diagrams, all kinds of material that I used and created to support my nonprofit clients over the years. So, it’s been well road-tested. The format of Nonprofit-KnowHow is eight chapters: four on key leadership capabilities like board leadership and development, strategic business planning, and finance and four chapters on fundraising, covering basics like Fundraising 101 and grant writing to more sophisticated skills like asking for money and capital campaigns.

KR: Thanks so much. So what would you say is unique about Nonprofit-Knowhow?

RR: First, most books written in the nonprofit sector, like most business books, treat one topic, such as board development or assessment or grant writing. When I was consulting with nonprofits, I found that it was often my ability to help clients see the connections between activities like strategic planning and board development and grant writing that really gained the client a quantum leap in their thinking and approaches. In fact, clients would hire me for one thing and soon we’d move into other areas that came up as a result. It was that agility and breadth of understanding that I developed in my own career in nonprofits as an intern, grant writer, development and marketing directors, and then as an executive director that I realized made an organization go from “good to great,” to use Jim Collins’ phrase. I wanted to share this integrated knowledge with many more organizations than I was able to do one at a time. Also, because I’m no longer consulting with nonprofits, I was free to include all my methods and templates and so on that I wouldn’t have when I was consulting because I was still using that material to earn my living. It was an incredible luxury for me to be able to do that.

KR: Wow, that sounds great. How would you suggest using the Guide and the Workbook together?

RR: How people use the Guide and the Workbook I think depends on their experience level in the nonprofit sector. For example, a seasoned executive director would use Nonprofit-Knowhow more as a reference tool, so the Guide they could look up in the index something and just get a check on how to do something or just sort of ground themselves with maybe even an idea about that. But they would also use the Workbook as a place to get templates for things that that executive director already knows they need, such as personnel policies. All experienced executive directors know that those are important so they wouldn’t necessarily need the explanation for that provided in the Guide but the sample personnel policies in the Workbook could save that same executive director a lot of time. On the other hand, a new board member would find the Guide a really important teaching tool, and an ED could use it to help orient and explain many important issues that are specific to the nonprofits. For example, why is fundraising an important asset to the nonprofit rather than a burden or an encumbrance, which many for-profit board members coming across to serve really don’t understand.

KR: Thank you so much for giving us this preview. How can we get Nonprofit-Knowhow and follow you?

RR: Nonprofit-Knowhow is available on the Nonprofit-Knowhow website. There I also a lot of other material to support nonprofits on the site, including our blog, Nonprofit Navigator, where we feature guest bloggers as well. Nonprofit-Knowhow is available on Amazon, too. We have a Facebook page, a LinkedIn page and our Twitter handle is @NPOKnowHow. We love connecting with new nonprofits and others supporting the important work they do, so we hope that people will check us out.

KR: Rebecca, this has been a great insight into your materials. For more on Rebecca Reynolds and related topics, visit us at www.causeplanet.org. Thanks again.

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