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 Joan Ulmer 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

The Science of Fundraising

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on January 9th, 2015 in Thoughts & Commentary

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No better way to start a year off than talking about money!  In fact, the group of executive directors with whom I was just chatting were all very positive about how their work year ended, noting that they saw a nice uptick in individual giving.  Nice way to end and a great promise for the future.

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Here’s a tip to that could help you have success with fundraising.  According to a study released last month by The Science of Philanthropy Initiative at Chicago Read more

Attributes of Successful Nonprofit Leaders

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

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The very first thing that grabbed me in this recently published McKinsey & Company article, entitled  “What social-sector leaders need to succeed,” was its opening sentence:  “It’s no secret that high-performing leadership is synonymous with private-sector success.”  Now, perhaps I’m overly sensitive on this, but my first read finished that sentence for the authors with “and not nonprofits:  they don’t have high-performing leaders.”  Can you blame me?  Look at the title of the article:  it suggests rather clearly that nonprofit leaders aren’t currently high-performing and Read more

The Most Deserving List

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on December 15th, 2014 in Thoughts & Commentary

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This is the time of year for lists – top 10 movies of the year, top 10 retweets, top 10 pictures of dogs dressed as reindeer. That’s one way of collecting data.

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Every semester, I start off one of my graduate classes by asking the students to explore the various sources of data on nonprofits. I give them starting sources, such as the National Center for Charitable Statistics, Giving USA and the Foundation Center, making it clear that they are by no means Read more


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