I’m Rubber, You’re Glue

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on March 27th, 2015 in Thoughts & Commentary

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Recently, two phrases have really captured my attention.  The first appeared in a PowerPoint presentation that a colleague had picked up at a conference he attended and shared with me.  The slide title was “Key Attributes of Board Members” and the characteristic that caught my attention was:  “an earned reputation for emotional maturity” (not to be confused with emotional intelligence). I confess, I laughed out loud when I read this.

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Sadly, too few boards pay attention to emotional maturity when considering candidates for Read more

Let’s hear it for the girls

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on March 20th, 2015 in Thoughts & Commentary

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How’s this for a depressing headline:  “Women in PA won’t get equal pay until 2072?”*  When I officially entered the workforce, women were making 56.6% of what men earned, the lowest it had been in the preceding 13 years.  As of 2013, that differential is up to 78.3%.  Progress, granted, although not always steady.  The fact that it will have taken a full 100 years plus nine for the first equal pay act—The Equal Pay Act of 1963—to achieve reality is beyond sad.  And it Read more

Better Late than Never

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on March 12th, 2015 in Thoughts & Commentary

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Better to write a late thank you note than never to write one at all. Or wash the snow, sand, salt or gunk off your car than leave it there forever. Or finally start exercising after promising for years. Or fire your executive director. What exactly is stopping you? Why would you procrastinate when costs of putting this off are simply too high?

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(As an aside, for those great executive directors, those you wish would stay for ever, it is not better late Read more

In Search of the 3 Musketeers

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on March 6th, 2015 in Thoughts & Commentary

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This semester I’m teaching two graduate classes: a class in nonprofit management in La Salle’s MBA program and one nonprofit management in our Masters in Nonprofit Leadership program. While I’ve taught each of these classes before, I’ve never taught them simultaneously. In both classes, though I have a bit of a different approach, I have the same end goal: like Jim Collins, I want these future leaders not to think about what is a great nonprofit organization as opposed to a great for-profit organization, but Read more

All Hail the Development Director

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on February 27th, 2015 in Thoughts & Commentary

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I am not a fundraising professional, nor would I ever want to be, although I have been raising funds since high school. If I am passionate about a nonprofit, I am all in, helping to bring in money to support that organization. But as an executive director (my paying job) and board member (my volunteer job), I want—no, I need—to be guided by a fundraising professional in the work of raising funds and ensuring organizational sustainability.

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Sadly (or is it cheaply?), too many Read more

Giving Men

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on February 20th, 2015 in Thoughts & Commentary

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Professor Henry Higgins, in My Fair Lady, the wonderful musical version of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, sings a wonderful lament that is still funny today:  “Why Can’t a Woman be More Like a Man?”  But in the world of charitable giving, the refrain should be:  why can’t men be more like women?  Well, maybe with a little subterfuge from a new study, we can make that happen.

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It is well established in the annals of academic research that men are less likely to give Read more

Charity makes you healthier

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on February 13th, 2015 in Thoughts & Commentary

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Raising funds is complicated.  It always has been and if current times are any indication, it will always be.  We’ve gone from the donor pyramid, a nice linear progression to lead donors up the ladder, to the donor vortex, that makes me grind my teeth (if you like the gear visual of how this vortex operates) or get dizzy (if you like the circular arrow for the visual).  We may not have always appreciated it, but life was simple back then.

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We’ve gone Read more

Leadership under Milennials?

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on February 6th, 2015 in Thoughts & Commentary

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Are we getting lazier?  Or, have we always been a lazy sector?  I’m really not sure of the answer, but I know we need to confront it.

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This past week, I read 108 mission statements, the result of an assignment I’d given to two of my classes:  one in La Salle’s Masters program in Nonprofit Leadership and the other in our MBA program.  To be sure, two very different groups of students.

The assignment was to pick any three mission statements of the student’s Read more

Kinder, Gentler Nonprofits

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on January 30th, 2015 in Thoughts & Commentary

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The snowstorm that wasn’t has me thinking.  In its aftermath, there were a lot of really angry people.  I was not one of them; I, rather, was very, very disappointed, as I love snow and this has not been a satisfying winter, thus far.   I was really looking forward to all of that white stuff.   I’m letting go, but some others don’t seem to be able to.

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Meteorologists are apologizing; the media, after hyping it, is now hyping the analysis of how could Read more

What Tools Do You Use?

Posted by Joan Ulmer on January 22nd, 2015 in Thoughts & Commentary

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The Bridgespan Group has just released the results of a new study, “Nonprofit Management Tools and Trends 2014,” which it plans to update every two years.  Patterned after research that Bain & Company has been doing on the for-profit sector since 1993, this work looks at how nonprofit leaders are using, and anticipate using, 25 different management “tools” to enable their organizations to do a better job at fulfilling their mission promises and how the tools mesh with 21 management trends.

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The 25 Read more


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