Is Donor Fatigue Real?

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on May 21st, 2015 in Thoughts & Commentary

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One of the most frequently asked questions that I get on the subject of fund development is, “What about donor fatigue?  Does it really exist?”  The answer, generally, is, “It depends upon whom you ask.”  Some people believe it is real, that people who have given, and are inclined to give, get worn down by constant asking and, one day, just stop giving cold turkey, or giving less than before and gradually stop or some variation.  Fundraising experts prefer the response that there is no Read more

You’re Overhead

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on May 15th, 2015 in Thoughts & Commentary

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This semester, I taught one class in nonprofit management in La Salle’s MBA program and another in its Masters in Nonprofit Leadership program.  And while I have taught the former for about 10 years, this is only the third time I taught this in the Nonprofit Leadership Master’s. But this was the first time I have had the opportunity to teach them simultaneously, and it was interesting to compare the two student groups.

At the end of the semester, I learned that the most influential activity Read more

The Business of Nonprofits

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on May 8th, 2015 in Thoughts & Commentary

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If I gave a before-and- after test to the students in my MBA class on nonprofit management, and grades were based on how much was learned, as opposed to how much was learned how well (which is really what grades should reflect), every student in that class would have to get an A.  Why?  Because sadly, the state of real knowledge (as opposed to myth and the nonsense people spout when then know nothing about a subject but pretend they do) about the nonprofit sector Read more

The Social Contract

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on May 4th, 2015 in Thoughts & Commentary

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It’s not often that I have good things to say about large health insurers, but today, I have to give Aetna its due.

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Apparently, I’m late to this party and am only now learning about Aetna’s January decision to raise the minimum wage of its lowest paid employees to $16/hour.  So, yes, Aetna jumped on a bandwagon—and then surpassed it.  It saw and raised other major corporations that have been announcing since the end of last year that they would be increasing their Read more

The Great Financial Divide

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on April 24th, 2015 in Thoughts & Commentary

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So many in the nonprofit sector toil to bridge the ever widening chasm that divides the rich as they get richer and the middle and lower classes as they get poorer.  We work to level the playing fields for everyone and to ensure equal access to those things that make life livable, such as affordable health care, arts and culture and a healthy environment.  Yet the very sector in which we work is experiencing that same divide.

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The Wall Street Journal recently reported Read more

Which kind of board is yours?

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on April 17th, 2015 in Thoughts & Commentary

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Here’s a new contest for you:  what board does the most and worst damage?  The contestants are Rip Van Winkle, Eager Beaver, Ostrich, the Monkey threesome, and Elpis, the Goddess of Hope.  The competition is tough, the outcome up for grabs.  Only one fact is known for sure:  all do damage.  Unknown is the extent of that damage.

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Recent events, some public, some not, have me, once again, wringing my hands over the lack of performance of nonprofit boards.  Take Sweet Briar College Read more

Choosing a Board Chair

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on April 10th, 2015 in Thoughts & Commentary

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What do some consider a fate worse than death?  Becoming chair of the board you serve on.   And, yes, I do prefer the title of “chair” over “president”, as president gives people the sense that this position has more power than it truly does or should.  (This position has no veto power or the power or the authority to hand down executive orders or to give pardons, etc.).   The first thing I generally tell people when having a discussion about the position of chair/president is Read more

Let’s Start a Nonprofit

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on April 2nd, 2015 in Thoughts & Commentary

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In this first quarter of the calendar year I have been giving lots of talks on the latest trends for nonprofits.  Apparently a lot of people think about “what’s on the horizon” at the beginning of the calendar year, even though it’s neither their fiscal year nor their board’s terms.  And while I have five or six key trends, depending upon the audience and time I’m allotted, I don’t discuss all five.

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Two factors that I always do discuss are the growth of Read more

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

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