Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Make a Difference by William MacAskill

This book provides a toolkit that will help those interested in philanthropy, evaluate the best possible way to give. William MacAskill is a philosopher, and a professor at Oxford, who uses evidence-based methods to help the reader evaluate the effectiveness of their philanthropy and ensure they are allocating their funds to the most effective interventions in their area of interest.

The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz

This book is for those interested in the “patient capital” model – one that encourages investments that make social and financial returns. An autobiography by Jacqueline Novogratz, founder of Acumen, the book follows her career from the Chase Manhattan bank, to the World Bank and finally to founding the Acumen Fund. It explores some of the tough questions of the development sector, and is a fascinating look into how market based interventions can be used for poverty alleviation.

Good to Great and the Social Sectors: Why Business Thinking Is Not the Answer by Jim Collins

Jim Collins’ book “Good to great” identified the factors that differentiate great companies from those that remain “good”.  Subsequently, he wrote this monograph that identifies what these factors are for non-profits and how they differ from businesses. He describes five principles – defining success for the organization, effective leadership in a diffused power structure, attracting the right people, clarity on how best to produce long term results, and building the brand. Based on his research, the strongest non-profit institutions display an excellent grasp of these principles. A donor beginning motivated to give to NGOs, could use this as a guide to support their grantee in transforming to a great organization using these principles.

Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits by Leslie Crutchfield

The authors of this book examined 12 large nonprofits that had achieved significant levels of scale to try and glean what they were doing differently. It proposes that many great organizations do not have a perfect management structure – they are happy to create “good enough” organizations and then focus their attentions on driving large scale transformational change. The most successful organizations were found to – focus on service and advocacy; use market mechanisms to their benefit; inspire communities of their supporters; invest in collaborative NGO networks; adapt to changing circumstances; and distribute power within the organization. Donors can use these principles to help their grantees identify organizational priority areas and support them on their journey to scale impact.

The Solution Revolution: How Business, Government, and Social Enterprises Are Teaming Up to Solve Society's Toughest Problems by William Eggers and Paul Macmillan

Donors who are looking to participate in the solution economy will find this book fascinating. The solution economy the collaborative economy where diverse stakeholders including businesses, government, philanthropists and social enterprises work together on complex problems like climate change, affordable health care and poverty. The authors showcase people and organizations within this solution economy and suggest ways that new donors can participate in it.

Give Smart by Thomas J. Tierney and Joel L. Fleishman

This book leverages very rich experience in consulting to offer philanthropists a simple framework to introspect on the why, what and how of their giving.