How to Save the World in Six (Not So Easy) Steps: Bringing Out the Best in Nonprofits


A must-read for anyone who loves nonprofits but worries about inefficiency, infighting, and inertia, How to Save the World in Six (Not So Easy) Steps is the definitive guide to advancing the mission effectively and mobilizing support.

The US has over 1.5 million nonprofits, which touch our lives in countless ways. The finest are inspiring, but unfortunately, too many let us down. Luckily, there’s a solution. How to Save the World in Six (Not So Easy) Steps by expert scholar and nonprofit leader David M. Schizer is the ultimate management book for nonprofit professionals, board members, and donors.

Since the goal of nonprofits is to advance their mission—not to make money—performance can be difficult to assess. Schizer explains how this fundamental challenge makes it harder to expose unwise and self-interested choices, resolve conflicts, and evolve with the times.

In response, nonprofits need to do two challenging things really well: figure out the best way to advance the mission, and then build support for it. With entertaining anecdotes from his many years leading Columbia Law School and international humanitarian organization JDC, as well as interviews with an all-star cast of nonprofit leaders, Schizer explains how to accomplish these twin goals with the “six Ps”:

  • Plan: Run a rigorous planning process
  • Persevere: Line up internal support
  • Prioritize: Set priorities by asking three key questions
  • Pivot: Test innovations
  • Publicize: Share ideas and hold yourself accountable
  • Partner: Raise more money by involving donors in the work

By chronicling the good, the bad, and the ugly at nonprofits and explaining how to get more out of them, this book shows how we can “save the world” together with the “six Ps.”


“Drawing on his own expertise and insights from other nonprofit leaders, David Schizer teaches a master class in what makes nonprofits successful.”

–Joe Lieberman, former United States Senator, Connecticut


“David Schizer’s important book provides invaluable wisdom in making nonprofits more effective. Schizer is a gifted writer and incisive thinker. You will want to add this book to your reading list and library.”

Robert Abrams, former Attorney General of New York


“David Schizer’s new book defines issues in the nonprofit sector with clarity, offers wise counsel to board members and staff alike, and balances the more intellectual content with heart-warming and entertaining anecdotes along the way. Reading this book is a journey worth taking for any professional or volunteer leader who is striving to advance the mission of their organization with excellence.”

–Rachel Garbow Monroe, President & CEO, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg



“This essential book offers a powerful and practical guide for nonprofits to thrive in the 21st Century. David Schizer gets right to the heart of the complexities of the nonprofit world. His detailed and actionable book is a true gift for the sector. Highly recommended.”

Henry Timms, President of Lincoln Center and Co-Founder of #GivingTuesday


“Serving on a nonprofit board is deeply fulfilling, but also really challenging. David Schizer offers invaluable guidance. Every board member should take his lessons to heart.”

–Lisa Landau Carnoy, Chair Emerita, Columbia University Board of Trustees and Independent Director of the United States Soccer Federation


“This book is a major contribution. Successful nonprofit leadership isn’t easy. You may know it when you see it, but David Schizer explains how to do it.”

–Lee Goldman, Cournand and Richards Professor and Dean Emeritus, Columbia University Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine.


“Schizer’s ‘six Ps’ are essential. They will add value for a plethora of nonprofits—from universities and hospitals, to community organizations and religious institutions.”

Jonathan S. Lavine, Co-Managing Partner, Bain Capital, Chair, Board of Trustees, Columbia University Chair Emeritus, City Year


“Even the most capable nonprofit leader can fall prey to common pitfalls. How to Save the World is a ‘tough love’ guide to success in running mission-driven organizations. This book is full of practical advice, brought to life through illuminating interviews and lessons drawn from David Schizer’s own experiences leading nonprofits in multiple sectors. New and experienced nonprofit managers alike will find this candid and accessible desk companion to be an invaluable resource.”

Gillian Lester, Dean and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law, Columbia Law School


“David Schizer has written an excellent guide to the leadership and management of nonprofit institutions. Trustees and employees will find How to Save the World a highly instructive, inspiring, comprehensive and reader-friendly companion.

The handbook draws from David’s own rich set of experiences in academic and humanitarian work and those of selected CEOs. The lessons he conveys to the reader are clearly drawn. They apply to any and all organizations, whatever their missions, age, size, and ambition.

Capturing such diversity and complexity in breezy, inviting prose and infusing it with his own personal history and deeply held values are no mean feats.

Schizer, the former dean and now professor at Columbia Law School, is hereby granted an A.

And, I do not grade on the curve!”

–Reynold Levy, former CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation, Lincoln Center, the International Rescue Committee, 92NY, and the AT&T Foundation, as well as the author of Yours for the Asking and They Told Me Not to Take That Job


“As the CEO of a mission driven nonprofit, I know all too well how important this guidance is so we can save the world together. I keep the six Ps on my desk and refer to them often. Thank you, David, for this incredible guidance.”

–Carol Baldwin Moody, President and CEO of Legal Momentum, The Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund


“At its core, How to Save the World is about the difficult choices nonprofit leaders make every day in their commitment to create thriving communities. Every leader, nonprofit and for-profit, should make the choice to read and learn the valuable lessons that David Schizer presents. How to Save the World is a must-read for nonprofit and corporate executives alike.”

Jennifer Sampson, President and CEO, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas