NFP Council’s summer 2023 reading list

May 12, 2023
Marketers NFP

Summer is almost here, and it’s the perfect time to relax and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. It’s also a great time to sharpen your marketing skills and learn from experts on topics relevant to today’s marketing and communications professionals. Whether you are a new graduate or a seasoned leader, you know the importance of staying on top of the latest trends and best practices. But with so many books and resources out there, how do you choose the ones that will help you grow your business and your career?

The CMA Not-For-Profit (NFP) Council came together in a recent roundtable to share our favourite books – ones that inspired us personally, as marketers, and as leaders. In doing so, we created a short list of impactful books that you might want to consider checking out. As an avid reader, I am very grateful for the Council’s insights into these books and have definitely added a couple to my own summer reading list.

Here is a round-up of books worth reading this summer:

  1. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer. This is a book that explores the reciprocal relationship between humans and the natural world. It combines Indigenous wisdom from the Potawatomi Nation with scientific knowledge from botany to show how we can learn from plants and animals. Marketers can benefit from reading this book as it challenges us to rethink our assumptions about nature, culture and value, and to embrace a more sustainable and respectful way of living and working.


  2. Quantum Marketing: Mastering The New Marketing Mindset For Tomorrow’s Consumers, by Raja Rajamannar. In his book, Raja makes the case for why marketers need to adopt change more rapidly as well as why business leaders need to adopt marketing as a more core part of their overall strategy. The CMO of Mastercard reveals that the pace of change we’re seeing with emerging technologies like AI, 5G and Web3 are on the verge of transforming how brands communicate, serve and build trust. He encourages companies to experiment responsibly but push themselves to harness new technologies in ways that are meaningful to people and brands.


  3. A Beautiful Constraint: How to Transform Your Limitations Into Advantages and Why It’s Everyone’s Business, by Mark Barden and Adam Morgan. As marketers, we all face constraints whether they are budgetary limitations, talent shortages, or scarcity of time. The authors provide examples from their work as business consultants, and offer tools and tips on how to use constraints to develop new creative avenues. It focuses on turning limitations into opportunities. They provide a guide on how to shift mindsets from an initial victim-like stage to a growth and transformation stage.


  4. Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why, by Laurence Gonzales. This book is not your typical leadership tome but is a case study of wilderness survival and a story of endurance. It is a look at human behaviour, assessing risk and decision-making under pressure through a narrative of adventure, survival science and practical advice. Though the pandemic is behind us, times are still unprecedented and this book seeks to help us take control of stress.


  5. Building A StoryBrand, by Donald Miller. For marketers and communicators to be effective and drive results, they need to cover the universal story points that all humans respond to. That is, we need to understand why customers make purchases, we need to simplify our brand message so people understand it, and we need to create effective messaging that our customers and donors connect with, all of which this book covers through seven universal elements.


  6. Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely. This is a fun and fascinating read, drawing on behavioural economics principles and research. It looks at why we defy rationality when we make decisions and it even makes the argument that this irrationality, as the book title suggests, is predictable. It unpacks the hidden forces that shape our decision-making. The insights gained from reading this New York Times bestseller are relevant to both our everyday life and marketing strategies.

  7. Brandraising: How Nonprofits Raise Visibility and Money Through Smart Communications, by Sarah Durham. Business books and corporate best practices are very adaptable to the NFP and social impact sector, however there are distinct and real differences between the sectors. So, this book is a great read if you are a NFP marketer. Though this book has been around for a while, the mission-driven approach to marketing for the purpose of boosting fundraising efforts is still very much relevant today.

It’s our hope that these authors will provide you with some new insights and strategies, and that they inspire you to become a more creative and visionary leader. By investing in your professional and personal development, you will be better equipped to adapt to the changing markets and contexts. You will gain more confidence and credibility as a marketer, a communicator, and a leader. You will discover how to connect with people, create memorable consumer experiences, and even make a more positive sustainable impact on the world.

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from these experts and take your marketing to the next level. Whether you like to read in hard copy or digital, most of these books are available from your local public library. Grab a copy today and enjoy reading!

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Kim Fletcher

Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications Diabetes Canada




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