The Nonprofit Dilemma

Insights & Strategies for Purpose-Driven Leaders

Non-Fiction - Business/Finance
309 Pages
Reviewed on 05/18/2024
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Author Biography

DC Armijo is an accomplished executive and award-winning author with over 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience. His dedication to purpose-driven work is founded in a childhood marked by poverty and a father’s illness. Those early challenges gave him the lifelong gifts of resilience, empathy, and purpose.

After beginning his career in hospital administration, DC transitioned to working for nonprofits focused on environmental and public health concerns. He has served in a variety of nonprofit leadership roles including: senior policy analyst, director, SVP, COO, CEO, fellow, and board member. He has mentored executives, led expert panels, chaired board committees, shaped state and federal policies, and written over $100M in successful grant proposals.

DC has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and health behavior from Oakland University and a master’s degree in health services administration from the University of Michigan. His blog can be found at

    Book Review

Reviewed by Doreen Chombu for Readers' Favorite

The Nonprofit Dilemma by DC Armijo is an informative and insightful book that provides a comprehensive perspective on the challenges faced by leaders in the non-profit sector. It is a must-read for anyone passionate about making a positive difference through non-profits, from future leaders to current executives and managers, trustees (board members), and funders. It offers valuable guidance on how to effectively deliver mission impact and ensure sustainability. Leaders will learn to handle unpredictable funds, be accountable, invest for the future, and strategically plan for improvement. In addition to these topics, the book also covers the importance of adaptability, communication, and relationship building. It provides practical advice on how to promote the organization and its purpose, build an inclusive and diverse team, and collaborate with people and groups that share your goals and values.

The Nonprofit Dilemma is a unique guide that many people in non-profit organizations will benefit from reading. It is well-organized and easy to understand, with a conversational tone and examples that readers will find relatable. DC Armijo's passionate and honest writing style will resonate with readers and effectively deliver the lessons. There are helpful graphs and tables, specific sections for different leadership roles, and concise summaries at the end of each chapter to enhance the overall understanding and retention of the lessons presented. The book also emphasizes the importance of measuring impact the right way and human resource management, which are often neglected aspects of non-profit leadership. The call to action at the end of the book encourages leaders to lead with love and efficiency and be brave in their mission to make the world a better place. Overall, I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for inspiration and guidance on their leadership journey.

K.C. Finn

The Nonprofit Dilemma: Insights & Strategies for Purpose-Driven Leaders is a work of non-fiction in the business, advice, and motivational writing subgenres. It is intended for the general adult reading audience. Penned by author DC Armijo, this engaging book delves into the complex challenges faced by nonprofit leaders, who often confront the dilemma of prioritizing between advancing their organization's impact and ensuring its financial sustainability. The work explores the underlying reasons behind the intricacies of nonprofit management, offering insights and strategies to help leaders navigate these choices effectively, thereby becoming exceptional stewards of their organizations.

Author DC Armijo offers original insights and insider information that provide an illuminating experience and invaluable guidance for navigating the complexities of leading purpose-driven organizations. Confidence and clarity in Armijo’s writing style let you dive right in and start engaging with the text. I appreciated the back-to-basics approach that avoids too much jargon and allows readers at any level to access and get involved with the theories and content. The book's practical strategies and actionable advice, ranging from developing effective strategies to fostering purpose-driven teams and enhancing impact measurement, prove immensely helpful in addressing common leadership dilemmas. Whether grappling with governance issues, fundraising challenges, or strategic planning, this book offers a comprehensive toolkit for nonprofit leaders at every level. Overall, The Nonprofit Dilemma is an indispensable resource for anyone seeking to maximize their organization's impact while upholding its values and ensuring long-term sustainability in an ever-changing landscape. I would not hesitate to recommend it.

Luwi Nyakansaila

The Nonprofit Dilemma by DC Armijo is a comprehensive guide that provides effective solutions for leaders in the non-profit industry. Unlike for-profit organizations, non-profit ones face unique and complex challenges such as limited resources, lack of accountability and diversity, complicated power structures, and influences. The author emphasizes the importance of qualities such as passion, patience, effectiveness, and decisiveness in addressing these issues to ensure the organization's mission is advanced, and its sustainability guaranteed. Readers will learn how to handle collaborations, build effective teams, and manage human and material resources. The book also offers valuable insights and guidance on strategic planning, adaptability, and communication, serving as a valuable resource for both current and aspiring leaders in the non-profit sector.

I enjoyed reading The Nonprofit Dilemma because it offers practical solutions for leaders in the non-profit sector. The inclusion of examples for different stakeholders, such as upcoming leaders, current executives and managers, and trustees at the end of each chapter, is a valuable feature that can help readers apply the insights and strategies discussed. DC Armijo's unique approach of incorporating personal experiences into the writing provides readers with a genuine and relatable perspective on the challenges faced by organizations. Additionally, the use of graphs, tables, and charts enhances the readability and understanding of complex concepts, adding value to the work. Overall, the author's writing style is both informative and engaging, making the content insightful and accessible. This is a must-read for anyone in the non-profit industry or anyone who wishes to join one to help make a difference in the world. Excellent book!

BookLife by Publishers Weekly

Armijo draws on 25 years of professional experience in the nonprofit landscape to offer readers guidance on “maximizing mission impact while being a good organizational steward” in this thorough debut. Growing up in poverty with a chronically ill father, Armijo’s family relied heavily on nonprofit organizations to make ends meet, gifting him with a unique perspective on their value. Whether it’s explaining basic nonprofit terminology, treading the sticky ground that comes with conflicts of interest, or exploring funding streams, he channels that perspective here, providing readers with an informative guide to nonprofit leadership that focuses primarily on how to bolster an organization’s financial health without sacrificing its mission.

Chapters are laser-focused and built around the organizational roles that drive the nonprofit sector (future leaders, executives and managers, and trustees). Armijo weaves the fiduciary/impact dilemma into all aspects of the business, including common governance issues, how to build and empower purpose-driven teams, strategy and execution, employee management, and more. Readers familiar with the nonprofit sector will find many well-known business theories here, ranging from logic models like the driver diagram to Armijo’s own “Wow Model of Clarity” for fine tuning organizational missions, and Armijo employs effective analogies from both history and contemporary culture to deepen the learning.

Regardless of readers’ experience in the nonprofit world, Armijo’s guidance is timeless, offering an inside view into the constant tension between mission and money that plagues the business. He emphasizes the idea that “nonprofit is a tax designation, not a business model,” urging nonprofit leaders to always keep their business strategy at the forefront of every decision. “You want to develop the business in order to grow its impact and improve its financial health over the long run,” he writes, and the myriad pointers, pitfalls to avoid, and operational guidance contained in The Nonprofit Dilemma will help readers do just that.

Takeaway: Valuable guidance for any role in the nonprofit sector.

Comparable Titles: Leslie R. Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant’s Forces for Good, Dan Pallotta’s Charity Case.