Diversify Now

Posted by Joan Ulmer on September 26th, 2014 in Thoughts & Commentary

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I just don’t get why, after the past seven years,  any nonprofit would need a lesson in the essential importance of having diversified funding streams. If you are one of those who has not yet learned that lesson, have a board member who is a slow learner or have an executive director who didn’t get the memo, let me share some true stories –  all just from the past week alone!

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Example One:  newly-elected mayor of Patterson, New Jersey, who assumed his position this Read more

On a Mission

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on September 19th, 2014 in Thoughts & Commentary

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In the past week, I have read 69 mission statements.  Perhaps it is a Guiness Book of Records triumph, but that wasn’t the purpose. Perhaps it is one of the top 10 worst things I have ever done, but masochism was not the point either. It was done in response to an assignment I gave my graduate students: critique three mission statements. That assignment will most definitely be revised before next semester.  I simply cannot put myself through it again.

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While reading 69 of Read more

Who do you Trust?

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on September 11th, 2014 in Thoughts & Commentary

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Election season is looming and I’m thinking about ethics (why would that be?)

Trust:  a simple word, but a complex phenomenon and not easy to win and maintain.   Yet I am reminded on an almost daily basis how much nonprofits take it—yes, the very lifeblood of their organizations–for granted.  I am amazed at how easily they trifle with it, ignore it, presume its steadfastness while doing things that blatantly dare others to challenge it and then open the doors wide so that it is so easy Read more

Not so Benign Neglect

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on September 5th, 2014 in Thoughts & Commentary

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Depending upon your age, you will no doubt remember the frenzy caused by the title of a policy written by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who at the time was working in the Nixon White House, on loan from Harvard University.  Writing as an advisor on urban affairs, Moynihan proposed a policy of benign neglect to address the racial tensions of 1960.  His thinking was that if we stopped attention and focus on the problem, things would, at best improve in the natural course of progress, or, Read more

Nonprofit Doesn’t Mean No Profit

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on August 29th, 2014 in Thoughts & Commentary

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Not too long ago I got a call from a woman who wanted to know all about our services and how we could help her—with the expectation that all of this help would be for free, of course, because, duh!, we are a nonprofit and she is a nonprofit.  Turns out, her organization had just become a nonprofit.

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Nothing new there, we get those calls all of the time.  But hers wasn’t a new organization.  Nope.  Hers was a conversion organization, going from a Read more

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

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