Purposeful Philanthropy and Political Consumerism

What do these phrases have in common?  Philanthropy is not a zero sum pie, purposeful philanthropy, too many facts may not be good and political consumerism.

There has been much talk in the wake of the election and incidences of binge philanthropy about the zero sum pie that is philanthropy, with a lone voice claiming it is not.  Seriously?

The ACLU receiving six times as much in on-line donations in one weekend than it did in the entire previous year means that other nonprofits won’t be seeing Read more

In Search of Cognitive Diversity

While nothing new, diversity is an increasingly hot topic in popular culture and no less an issue in nonprofits.  Funders want diversity on the boards of its grantees; nonprofits want their boards to reflect their constituencies; everyone wants diversity of staff.   There is, however, no common understanding of diversity, as it is, to a very great extent dependent upon where you are, what you do, etc.  There is one guarantee, however:  most people’s concept of diversity tends to rest on those things that are easily Read more

$1000 Board Paydays

Those of us who have long subscribed to best practices in nonprofit governance have reason to be appalled by the National Organization for Nonprofit Organizations and Executives pushing out its own version of best practices for nonprofits.  It is difficult to know anything for sure about this less than two-year-old organization, as its website provides very little information unless you sign up.

But apparently this group has managed to get followers, as there are pictures on its website of its convention and expo.  And it is Read more

Information is Power (Especially in a Nonprofit)

One of the most frequently asked questions I received during the Great Recession was, “Should we tell staff that ____________?”  You may fill in the blank with such things as, “we have spent down our reserve” or “we are going to have a cut a program” or “we are going to have to lay off staff” or similar disquieting scenarios.  I’m reminded of these times for two reasons.

First, more and more folks are already likening the current development climate for nonprofits to those starting in Read more

Social Media and Boards

Amid the current atmosphere of uncertainty and polarization, people seem more apt to use social media as an outlet for expressing their concerns.   For me, this has led to several recent conversations about board members sharing their personal political views on their social media pages and the problems that arise when those board members are clearly linked back to the organizations on whose boards they sit.

While you should already have a social media policy for staff and regular volunteers, you may not have realized the Read more

Science of the Nonprofit Starvation Cycle

While many nonprofits are used to working with scarcity—in fact, I often think too many nonprofits are so rooted in their framework of scarcity—not enough dollars, people, time, energy, etc.—that they can’t even dream in a framework of prosperity.

A professor of  psychology and public affairs at Princeton and an economist from Harvard—have affirmed what they call the scarcity mindset.  They have shown that a brain focused on what a person is lacking becomes obsessed with that missing thing to the exclusion of all else and, as Read more

Mastering Nonprofit History

As someone who believes in the learning power of history, I am increasingly dismayed by how little others value history.  While modern-day board members seem to have struggled for decades to grasp just what they are supposed to do and how they should do it, those who populated the earliest boards in America—the boards of educational institutions—figured it out long ago.  All we have to do is follow.

I require students in my masters level governance class to read about the history of governing boards in Read more

Enjoy Those Million-Dollar Paydays

I love good research and I love The Wall Street Journal.  But the reporting on the results of the recent research it did on salaries of nonprofit CEOs is emblematic of the problems of both much of the research about the sector, and the reporting out of that research.

The Journal’s headline read, “Charity Officials Are Increasingly Receiving Million-Dollar Paydays,”* with the subhead of “About 2,700 people had seven-figure pay packages at nonprofits in 2014, a number that was up a third in three years, newly Read more

So, be honest

Read the news on nonprofits from around the country and you’d know our sector is struggling.  But I fear that a good portion is our own doing, which makes the part which we don’t control even more threatening and scary.

Headlines of employees embezzling signals lax financial oversight by the executive director and the board.  Stories of nonprofits struggling to make payroll and keep their doors open forewarns a variety of behaviors, from poor management to failure to balance mission fulfillment and the bottom line, to Read more

What’s Hot in Nonprofit Staffing?

It’s my practice to always keep an eye on the sector, taking its pulse, monitoring the trends to see what is a blip, what’s moving from trend to part of the fabric, and everything in between.  Executive directors who don’t do this risk harming their organizations. , I read a lot—and I mean a lot, from the solid, academic journals to the lay publications, the revered to the trash.  The variety of sources helps me sort the wheat from the chaff, to pick out the Read more

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