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
Perhaps it is only natural that in the nonprofit sector, we forget that some words have multiple meanings. We might, therefore, be forgiven for the unidimensional understanding of legacy that so many in the nonprofit sector seem to hold. In so doing, we lose what may be the more important and valuable meaning of the word.
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The first, and, so we are taught is, therefore, the more common, definition of legacy is the one that so many in our sector embrace: a bequest—a gift Read more
Board fundraising is an opportunity, not an imposition that we dump on others . That’s the lesson I’ve been trying forever to get board members to accept. I’ve explained countless times that fundraising isn’t about asking people for money, but about cultivating and stewarding relationships. My limited success with this has led me to ask: should we be talking about fundraising at all?
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When I ask a group of board members and wanna-be board members why a nonprofit needs a board, answers range from Read more
I must be desperate for a laugh if I chuckled at this: last month, the Urban Institute, owner of the National Center on Charitable Statistics, came out with its annual report entitled, “The Nonprofit Sector in Brief 2014: Public Charities, Giving and Volunteering.” (This report on the sector is based on data from 2012.) But it really isn’t about the nonprofit sector, as most of it focuses on public charities—which, according to its own data, are two-thirds of all nonprofits. So, the real title should Read more
Recently, a dear friend brand new to his executive director role and, thus, working in a nonprofit, but well-versed working with and for nonprofits, made the observation from his recently acquired leadership position, “Nonprofits are messy!” I can’t disagree, but wonder to what extent we contribute to our own messes?
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A few days after hearing his remark, a one-day facilitation session with the board and senior staff of an organization brought home that answer, writ large: a lot! How could one organization do so Read more
A phrase from an article in Forbes recently caught my eye: “It has become trendy to liken effective philanthropy to Moneyball, ….” Really? We moved from strategic philanthropy right into Moneyball philanthropy? (They are, without a doubt, closely intertwined.)
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For those of you who are unaware, Moneyball is the player selection strategy introduced by the Oakland Athletics (As) and made famous in the 2011 movie of the same name. The As jettisoned the long-standing baseball practice of selecting players based on assessments by the experienced Read more
We truly are our own worst enemies, a key purveyor of the negative images of nonprofits that the larger public whole-heartedly believes and takes as gospel. If we want to dispel those myths—and we absolutely should—we must start on the inside.
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What sparked this? Don’t ask me why, but The Brady Bunch theme song is tromping on my brain: here’s the story of a nonprofit struggling to improve itself; here’s the story of a for-profit consultant with an Ivy League degree offering virtually free Read more
I just don’t get why, after the past seven years, any nonprofit would need a lesson in the essential importance of having diversified funding streams. If you are one of those who has not yet learned that lesson, have a board member who is a slow learner or have an executive director who didn’t get the memo, let me share some true stories – all just from the past week alone!
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Example One: newly-elected mayor of Patterson, New Jersey, who assumed his position this Read more