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Managers have resources to managementinvest - their time, talent and, possibly, human resources. The goal (function) of management is to get the best return on such resources by getting things done efficiently. This doesn't imply being mechanical or narrowly controlling as some writers on management suggest. The articles and books below will give you some valuable tips and strategies for good management.





"How to Manage Managers" by Darren Dahl,

Good advice for any manager, director, or anyone managing people. This article discusses how to achieve an organizations goals, while also inspiring and supporting its employees.

"Top Ten Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Writing a Business Plan" by

This slideshow is a quick and clear list of the ten most common mistakes entrepreneurs make when they write business plans in regards to style, content, and presentation. 

"How To Use QuickBooks Simple Start Free for Home Office" by Brian Nelson

A good idea, and tool, for small start up think tanks about how to manage their finances easily and for free. 

"7 Strategies for Successful Meetings" by Mark Sanborn

In this podcast Mark Sanborn gives useful advice on how to make meetings (small and large) more successful. This is a very clear, to-the-point, inspirational podcast. Learn more from Mark Sanborn at

When Should You Hire a Director of Development?" by Derrick Feldmann and Dave Sternberg

As the title suggest, this article by The Nonprofit Times advises nonprofits on this important and strategic move; and addressed two common mistakes small nonprofits are likely to make when hiring a Director of Development. 

"Guidelines and Recommendations for Starting an Institute" by Jo Kwong

This short paper is designed as a very basic introduction to think tank creation for institute entrepreneurs who are just getting started. It consists of ideas and advice that Atlas has developed and compiled from working with institutes during the past two decades.

"Google's Management Style Grows Up" by Scott D. Anthony

An Interesting article (using Google as a case study) about discipline & innovation, and how to ensure that good ideas get the proper funding.

"How to Form an LLC" by The Wall Street Journal

This article appears in the Wall Street Journal's How to Guide's for Small Businesses. This article discusses how to set up a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) within the United States, several think tanks follow this model, and it may be a useful one for newer organizations. .

"Delegate, Dont Just Dump"by F. John Reh

Learning to delegate effectively is a valuable tool for Think tank leaders and managers to master, in order to maximize the efficiency of an organization. This article, from, discusses reasons why delegation is important, and outlines how to delegate most effectively.

"Basics for New Managers and Supervisors to Manage Themselves" by Carter McNamara

This article discusses basic strategies for new managers and leaders. This information may be helpful for many of institute leaders who manage small organizations, work as a one-man shop or need help with strategies to better manage time, work, and other pressures

"Tips for Hiring Managers" by Talent Market, a DonorsTrust entity, offers ten tips to consider in hiring managers, but the advise is appropriate for any prospective hiring decision.

"Steps to Hiring and Retaining the Fundraising Talent You Need" by Christina Smith

Christina Smith, former director of development at SPN, offers tips on hiring fundraising talent.

"How to Run a Meeting Like Google" by Carmine Gallo

This article, featured in Business Week Magazine, discusses tips from Google's Vice President on running effective and inspiring meetings.

"Thinking Through a Successful Think Tank" by Lawrence Reed

Larry Reed refered to this seminal article during his presentations to the Atlas Think Tank MBA in 2008 and 2009. Though it's targeted at newer think tank leaders, even seasoned leaders can learn from these gems of wisdom -- from board expectations to fundraising to the importance of planning.

"Staffing in One Lesson" by Michael Smith

In this article,featured at the SPN website, a Smith Recruiting specialist advises think tank leaders on the hiring process, offering important things to remember when selecting new employees.

"Reflections on Starting BIPPS " by Chris Derry

This article by Chris Derry, founder of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions (BIPPS), and a frequent speaker at Atlas events offers his insights and tips on starting a think tank from the ground up, on a very low budget.

"Some Lessons from the Engine Room about Managing an Institute " by Michael Walker

In the Winter '06/'07 issue of Highlights, Mike Walker of the Fraser Institute in Canada walks through the different managing styles needed in different stages of a think tank, from a new small think tank, to a larger, more established one.

"Put First Things First" by Darcy Olson

This article, published in SPN's Newsletter by Darcy Olson of the Goldwater Institute offers tips on ensuring the those big projects within your institute get accomplished, in spite of the additional demands on your time.

"Plans Make the World Go Round" by Daniel Erspamer

This article, published in SPN's Newsletter highlights why goals, lists and processes help increase the effectiveness of your organization.

"How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity" by Ed Catmull

This article, written by Pixar's president Ed Catmull teaches us how to create a work environment that is conducive to great, innovative work and success.

"Teaching the Class of 2009- Intern Management" by Chronicles of Philanthropy

This article, from the Chronicles of Philanthropy, offers tips on managing interns, so that the experience is beneficial for both your organization, and the students.

"Ignore Sunk Costs" by Seth Godin

This article, by Seth Godin, encourages organization to allocate resources efficiently, by ignoring sunk costs and making forward looking decisions.

"Employee Compensation During Tough Times" by Linda Lampkin

When revenues are down, nonprofits are forced to make some decisions about how to spend their scarce dollars on employee salaries. This article from Guidestar offers some hints on how to avoid these common mistakes and retain valuable staff.

"Strategies for Restructuring your Organization" by Sandy Jacobsen and Stephanie Jacobs

The economic downturn or other external factors may be forcing your organization to re-structure. This may include modifying your mission, organization structure or organization culture. This article contains 22 strategies for how to start engaging in organizational change.

"Measuring Outcomes not Outputs" by Ken Berger

This article from Charity Navigator discusses the importance of measuring the outcomes of your institute's activities, not just the actions themselves.

"Forces for Good, The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits" by Les Lenkowsky

This book review, by Les Lenkowski, about the book Forces for Good, The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits written by Leslie Crutchfield, analyzes the non-profits that have changed the industry, and offers their strategies for success.

"Not Even Non-Profits are Immune to the Entitlement Mentality" by Jo Kwong

This article encourages non-profits to remember that in order to earn donor dollars, they must continue to produce high quality products, competing in the marketplace isn't just for businesses!

"Why "Motivation by Pizza" Doesn't Work" by Alexander Kjerulf

This article offers suggestions on ways to offer good incentives for your employees, encouraging them to do their best work.


"Get Rid of the Performance Review!" by Samuel A. Culbert

This article, appearing in the Wall Street Journal by Samuel Culbert, offers a new method for reviewing the work of employees, rather than holding reviews, he offers reasons why performance reviews are inefficient, and suggests a new method; performance previews.

"How to Start and Grow a Think Tank" by State Policy Network

A compilation of useful tools and suggestions for starting, and making the most of your think tank, put together by the State Policy Network.

"Transparency In Think Tanks" by Jeff Brooks

Many Atlas think tanks do great work in promoting transparency in government spending, but what about their own spending. Jeff Brooks, at the Donor Power Blog offers insights into transparency within nonprofits, and discusses what information they should share.

"Legal Structures for Non Profits" by Alan P. Dye

In his talk at the State Policy Network’s K-12 Education Summit in October of 2006, Alan Dye of the Law Offices of Webster, Chamberlain & Bean, provided this article on the different options for legally organizing a non-profit.

"Why NonProfits Have a Difficult Time Finding Employment Candidates" by Micheal Smith

Michael Smith questions whether commitment to, and agreement with, an organization’s philosophy translates into greater employee effectiveness. He suggests that sympathizers may be less effective employees than outsiders, and that the ability of an employee to perform a certain job is determined primarily by innate ability, experience, and training. Scroll down to page 6 of this edition of SPN News to read more.

"Election Year Do's and Don'ts for U.S. Lobbying Groups" by Alan P. Dye

For think tanks that focus on short-term policy battles, it is important to know the distinctions between activities permitted for 501(c)(3) organizations, vs. 501(c)(4)’s, and how this plays into federal and state election laws. Alan P. Dye of the Law Offices of Webster, Chamberlain & Bean has developed this memo with important notes on these topics.

"The Art of the Turnaround" by Michael M. Kaiser

BOOKS* All summaries of books can be found here

"Why Nonprofits Fail: Overcoming Founder’s Syndrome, Fundphobia, and
Other Obstacles to Success" by Stephen R. Block
"Organizing Genius:The Secrets of Creative Collaboration" by Patricia Ward Biederman and Warron Bennis
"Managing the Non-Profit Organization:Principles and Practices" by Peter F. Drucker
"Confessions of a Street Smart Manager" by John Mahoney
"Nonprofit Lifecycles:Stage-Based Wisdom for Nonprofit Capacity" by Susan Stevens
"Knowledge and Decisions" by Thomas Sowell


Philanthropy Roundtable

Free Management Library

This site contains extensive lists of resources for virtually every aspect of management for non-profit and for-profit organizations alike.

Sample By-Laws, for reference only

For reference only, here are sample by-laws and articles of incorporation for Virginia for non-profit public policy institutes.

Working Capital Ratio - Investopedia

Calculating a firm’s working capital ratio can give a firm a better understanding of the company’s ability to weather declining donations during hard economic times. According to Charity Navigator, 60% of the charities they evaluate have at least 6 months of working capital on hand (working capital ratio of > .5) This is a good benchmark to strive for as your institute matures.

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