CPR by Collaboration

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on October 20th, 2016 in Thoughts & Commentary

0 comment

As I was mulling over what to say for a recent talk on the state of the sector, I found myself getting more and more depressed.  Where, I kept asking myself, was the good news?  I refuse to paint a false picture, but I also hate being so negative, particularly first thing in the morning.

The current state of the sector is replete with challenges.  Here are the biggies, in no particular order, that impact some, or all, of the individual organizations that make up our Read more

Honor Your Employees

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on October 14th, 2016 in Thoughts & Commentary

0 comment

They may not realize it, but the pending FLSA overtime changes that are due to take effect on December 1 represent a huge opportunity for many nonprofits.    So just what is this up side to what everyone else sees as a negative or even a threat?

Time after time, I see nonprofits looking at something that is, first and foremost, a question of ethics, but responding as if it were only a question of finances.  And that is exactly what is happening here.  When folks read Read more

Embracing the 95%

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on October 7th, 2016 in Thoughts & Commentary

1 comment

Seriously, it’s time to stop telling board members they need to fundraise.  It’s not working.  We need to take a different approach.

Over the years, I’ve talked to thousands of people considering joining nonprofit boards, as well as current board members.  We talk about their roles and responsibilities.  Naturally, audience members vary in their level of engagement, from the enthralled to the weary.  Most are engaged:  taking notes, responding with nods and glances, asking questions, comfortable.  That is until I mention the word “fundraising.”  More often Read more

The For-Profit Model of Paid Boards

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on September 16th, 2016 in Thoughts & Commentary

0 comment

A recent headline caught my eye:  “Should Board Members of Large Nonprofits be Paid?”  “NO!” my brain screamed.


Why not?  Many love to tell me that the reason nonprofit board members don’t do their jobs, or do them well, is because they aren’t paid.  Such a statement is based on the belief—sadly, one widely held in this country, at least—that the only thing that motivates people is financial compensation.  Forget the intangibles of feeling good about helping to make a difference, giving back, being a force Read more

Serving the Public Good

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on September 1st, 2016 in Thoughts & Commentary

0 comment

According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are just under 1.6 million nonprofits in the U.S.   The overwhelming majority of them work very hard to fulfill their tax-exempt purpose:  working on behalf of some portion of the public good.  Not all may succeed, not all are doing the best job, but they are all sincerely trying to do the right thing to the best of their sometimes limited capabilities.  That’s the good news.

Now some bad news.  Since 2014, the IRS has made it Read more

Management by Wishful Thinking

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on August 26th, 2016 in Thoughts & Commentary

0 comment

As a country, we are going soft, and the nonprofit sector is contributing.

Recently, a friend new to academics told me of one of his students who came to him on the morning that a major assignment was due and told him that she did not have it.  The previous Friday had been so gorgeous, she actually told him, she just had to go down the shore (as you Philadelphians say) for the weekend.

I’ve had this story rolling around in my head for almost a month, Read more

Checking the Headlines

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on August 18th, 2016 in Thoughts & Commentary

0 comment

When you grow up in a family where both parents are journalists, headlines are important.  One of my sisters actually thought in headlines:  whenever she did anything, good or bad, she’d write the headline in her head and then she’d tell my parents.  Perhaps it is why I enjoy the “virtual clipping services” that gather the headlines on a daily basis and send them to me (and everyone else who subscribes).  From a headline, I can quickly see what is going on in the world Read more

What’s your Weltanschauung?

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on August 11th, 2016 in Thoughts & Commentary

1 comment

While most of the time, I can’t remember details of a movie I saw last week, but yet I have a vivid recollection of a scene in the 1966 comedy “The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming.”  I remember Alan Arkin running down a deserted street, screaming the aforementioned title.

That actor is running beside me as I write this blog, as I, yet again, wring my hands because as a sector—and, as individual organizations—we aren’t paying enough serious attention to our own doomsday scenario — Read more

Reading is Fundamental

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on August 4th, 2016 in Thoughts & Commentary

0 comment

For many of us, taking time to read feels like something of a luxury.   While we might carve out some stolen moments for the time-honored summer read, professional publications and articles often make their way to the bottom of the work pile.  Let me be your occasional collegial clipping service, offering a brief synopsis of some timely printed materials I’ve managed to read that might be of interest to those involved in the nonprofit sector.

One more note of background to explain my motivation.  I am Read more

Investing in Capacity Building

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on July 27th, 2016 in Thoughts & Commentary

0 comment

The recent announcement by the Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia that it was bringing back into its organizational fold the capacity building entity it created 10 years ago has not gone without note and comment.  It has caused some to comment on the state of capacity building in the world of nonprofits, suggesting that there has been an inundation of capacity building resources into the marketplace and that there is a need for significant changes in capacity building.

Embed from Getty Images

On Read more


You don't have to be LOST IN TRANSITION.  Start succession planning before you need it.  Our Webinar makes it easy to figure out the steps you can be taking now, during and after a leadership transition to secure your mission.  lost_in_translation_signs_49