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

Nonprofit Status for Everybody

Posted by Joan Ulmer on July 17th, 2014 in Thoughts & Commentary

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For people like me who love fireworks, early July is always exciting time. It seems no matter where you are, you don’t have to wait until the 4th to see the displays of color in the air and hear the bang and whistle of exploding fireworks. And this year, the IRS treated the nonprofit sector to its own special brand of fireworks.

It came on July 1 and it wasn’t blue and gold and shimmering and oh-so-wonderful in the sky, but rather fell more Read more

Musings from a Nerd

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on June 26th, 2014 in Thoughts & Commentary

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I don’t know what is worse:  the week before vacation or the one right after you return.  Both are generally crazy, the former trying to do get everything  in order for your absence; the latter, catching up, while simultaneously needing to move forward.  But with the former, at least, you have the anticipation of the vacation—its allure, pull, excitement—which is totally lacking upon return.  Once back, all you can think about is how to hold on to all the goodness of the vacation Read more

Where are Nonprofit Standards?

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on June 23rd, 2014 in Thoughts & Commentary

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The amount of bad, blatantly unethical, or just plain wrong information that supposed experts give out, and which nonprofits accept, is staggering.  After all, it came from an “expert,” so how can you push back or question?  And what happens when this bad information gets lionized as truth?  Let me share some recent examples.

A few weeks ago, I got an email from a stranger who’d found me on the web.  He had an intricate story to tell of a board’s deceit, favoritism, unethical Read more

The Board Engagement Metric

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on June 12th, 2014 in Thoughts & Commentary

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 A few weeks ago, I got a request to speak with an executive director and a board president about their organization’s give policy. I always counsel boards that their policy on board giving must come with consequences. Since very few boards are willing to do so, very few organizations have an actual, formal policy (that means written down, approved by a board vote and memorialized in the policy manual—be it virtual or tangible).

The duo I was counseling had done everything it should have: Read more

Do you Speak Social Investment?

Posted by Joan Ulmer on June 9th, 2014 in Thoughts & Commentary

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At The Nonprofit Center, we recognize the need to support nonprofits seeking to start social enterprises as part of their search for new, sustainable funding streams.  But one of the big questions is where to find start-up money.  While certainly there are some who could find the funds in their reserves or in an unrestricted endowment, others may seek a PRI (program related investment) from a foundation, and still others may be able to get a bank loan, there are plenty for whom Read more

All Costs Considered

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on May 22nd, 2014 in Thoughts & Commentary

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Earlier this week, NPR’s All Things Considered did an interesting story on criminals being charged for court costs and for a public defender.  Surprising  - yes and no.

Jurisdiction after jurisdiction has been looking every previously untapped income source in order to help pay the bills.  If they have already passed legislation allowing the taxation of nonprofit profits, why not start charging criminals for the system the state set up to determine their guilt or innocence?

The Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments  convey our nation’s presumption of Read more

Trends in What’s Trending

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

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What’s trending? How often do we hear that on daily basis? Even before the term was hijacked by social media, trends were important. And yet, it is amazing how little attention nonprofit staff and board members pay attention to them.

One of our consultants just mentioned that he had recently attended his local professional conference. For the past five years, he said, attendance has been dwindling. Is anyone talking about this? Has staff tried to understand the source of this trend? Has the board Read more

Smart Hiring

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on May 9th, 2014 in Thoughts & Commentary

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Lots of people are asking us what the trends are in hiring in the nonprofit sector.  All of the different collectors of hiring data in the nonprofit sector that we’ve seen are saying the same thing: nonprofits are hiring.  According to Nonprofit HR’s “2014 Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey” (the Survey), 46% of nonprofits surveyed increased staff in 2013, as opposed to just 17% that decreased staff, and it looks like more (45%) are hiring new staff for new programs than asking current staff Read more

3 Winners

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on May 2nd, 2014 in Thoughts & Commentary

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Why aren’t more nonprofits developing young professional boards? It is a win for the organization, a win for the young professionals and a win for whatever staff member who is given the responsibility to manage this group. What’s not to love?

With all due respect to Michael Harrington, there is a most definite graying of American nonprofit board tables, and this puts missions are at risk. Rather than being a sign of, it is simply a statement of fact to which every nonprofit board should be Read more

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