The Real World

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on August 22nd, 2014 in Thoughts & Commentary

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There is a parallel, of which I am all too frequently reminded, between working in the nonprofit sector and being an early feminist of the second half of the 20th century:  just when you think you are making progress, something smacks you in the face and says, “Hah!  Gotcha, dummie!”   Recently, I got a double whammy of both. Michelle Nunn is the Democratic nominee for the US Senate seat from Georgia, and the on-leave CEO of Points of Light, an almost $30 million Read more

Pride Goeth

Posted by Joan Ulmer on August 14th, 2014 in Thoughts & Commentary

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I do believe that at birth we are all tabula rasa, and it is nurture that takes over and shapes our ways of thinking, doing, responding, etc.  When people say, it is “human nature to do …,” I cringe.   I know nothing that is human nature.   (Instinct and human nature are not one, as the former is something that we all do, as definitions say, without “knowing” or thinking; we just do).

As the world threatens to crumbles around us, I am struck by Read more

Dirty Money

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on August 7th, 2014 in Thoughts & Commentary

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When are people going to learn that politics and nonprofits just don’t go together?   It is messy; it even gets ugly.  It complicates things where, truthfully, additional layers of complication don’t need to be added.  Plus, it always raises eyebrows.  And that’s never a good thing.

Recently, The Philadelphia Inquirer did an article on the philanthropy of media and cable giant Comcast.  Dollar-wise, Comcast is a good philanthropist:  according to its own promotion materials, it has given $25 million to charity since its inception Read more

It’s All About Me

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on July 31st, 2014 in Thoughts & Commentary

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Recently, I had a conversation with my Millennial niece, nephew and his significant other. Well, at least I tried, but the conversation didn’t go far. We were talking about generations and I just happened to refer to them as Millenials, which brought a very strong and decisive smack from the significant other. She was certain she and the others were not Milennials. Only showing her the birth year range, generally placed at those born in the early 1980s to early 2000s, got her Read more

Let’s Talk Philanthropy

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on July 24th, 2014 in Thoughts & Commentary

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Recently, I got a question from a young executive director of an organization clearly in the start-up phase of its lifecycle.  The board, too, is young.  And, as so many young people are,  they are very earnest and concerned with doing the right thing in the right way.  But the subject of the question she asked is not a young person’s or young organization’s question;  it is a question that I get so regularly in some form, I am almost tired of answering Read more

Nonprofit Status for Everybody

Posted by Joan Ulmer on July 17th, 2014 in Thoughts & Commentary

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For people like me who love fireworks, early July is always exciting time. It seems no matter where you are, you don’t have to wait until the 4th to see the displays of color in the air and hear the bang and whistle of exploding fireworks. And this year, the IRS treated the nonprofit sector to its own special brand of fireworks.

It came on July 1 and it wasn’t blue and gold and shimmering and oh-so-wonderful in the sky, but rather fell more Read more

Musings from a Nerd

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on June 26th, 2014 in Thoughts & Commentary

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I don’t know what is worse:  the week before vacation or the one right after you return.  Both are generally crazy, the former trying to do get everything  in order for your absence; the latter, catching up, while simultaneously needing to move forward.  But with the former, at least, you have the anticipation of the vacation—its allure, pull, excitement—which is totally lacking upon return.  Once back, all you can think about is how to hold on to all the goodness of the vacation Read more

Where are Nonprofit Standards?

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on June 23rd, 2014 in Thoughts & Commentary

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The amount of bad, blatantly unethical, or just plain wrong information that supposed experts give out, and which nonprofits accept, is staggering.  After all, it came from an “expert,” so how can you push back or question?  And what happens when this bad information gets lionized as truth?  Let me share some recent examples.

A few weeks ago, I got an email from a stranger who’d found me on the web.  He had an intricate story to tell of a board’s deceit, favoritism, unethical Read more

The Board Engagement Metric

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on June 12th, 2014 in Thoughts & Commentary

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 A few weeks ago, I got a request to speak with an executive director and a board president about their organization’s give policy. I always counsel boards that their policy on board giving must come with consequences. Since very few boards are willing to do so, very few organizations have an actual, formal policy (that means written down, approved by a board vote and memorialized in the policy manual—be it virtual or tangible).

The duo I was counseling had done everything it should have: Read more

Do you Speak Social Investment?

Posted by Joan Ulmer on June 9th, 2014 in Thoughts & Commentary

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At The Nonprofit Center, we recognize the need to support nonprofits seeking to start social enterprises as part of their search for new, sustainable funding streams.  But one of the big questions is where to find start-up money.  While certainly there are some who could find the funds in their reserves or in an unrestricted endowment, others may seek a PRI (program related investment) from a foundation, and still others may be able to get a bank loan, there are plenty for whom Read more

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