Promoting Us Non-Essentials

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on May 15th, 2020 in Thoughts & Commentary

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After every crisis of the last 20 years, many organized funders shift their priorities to meet the immediate needs stemming from that crisis. Following the logic, the nature of a crisis is that it creates urgent needs, quite often outside of, or intensifying, the ongoing needs of society. So, it is understandable that more money would flow in those directions. 

Philanthropic dollars are quite often a zero sum pie, this means that money is flowing away from those things the sector provides that are deemed less Read more

Doing the Harder Right

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on May 8th, 2020 in Thoughts & Commentary

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I don’t know about you, but this pandemic has me thinking about things I’ve never really bothered with much before.  Commercial real estate is an example   Sure, I noticed when new office or retail space was being built or refurbished or when a client would mention the need to look for new space.  But in the past couple of months of remote working, I am increasingly  worried about the future of commercial real estate. Have we paved paradise to put up commercial buildings that Read more

Four Steps for Fundraising in a Covid-19 World

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on May 1st, 2020 in Thoughts & Commentary

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In these chaotic times, while we all scramble to find a share of philanthropic dollars, it is especially worthwhile to pay attention to what the research can teach us.  Consider the differences among female and male donors.

Women Give 2020, “New Forms of Giving in a Digital Age:  Powered by Technology, Creating Community,” is the latest report from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and contains data that is relevant to our current struggles.  

The research is extensive in that it Read more

Celebrate the Wins

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on April 23rd, 2020 in Thoughts & Commentary

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Growing up in Washington, DC, I never had a sense of “community” – just neighborhoods and “the city.”  When I was introduced to the concept of a community foundation, however, I immediately got it:  a group of people – a community – that gives money to support that community.  I’ve been a fan of community ever since.

Over the decades, and more recently of late, I’ve listened to and read about the marketing efforts of community banks as they compete with the big mahoffs of the Read more

The Promise of Delayed Gratification

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on April 17th, 2020 in Thoughts & Commentary

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If you’ve never watched a video of someone doing Walter Mischel’s marshmallow experiment, now would be a great time.  If nothing else, watching children with marshmallows would be a welcome break from the all-consuming pandemic coverage.

On the serious side, though, Mischel’s experiment taught us about the relationship between delaying gratification – doing some hard work now to reap a reward down the road.  

In 2008, many nonprofits chased any dollars they could, often diverting them far from their mission, for the immediate gratification of Read more

Be the Zoom Where it Happens

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on April 9th, 2020 in Thoughts & Commentary

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Week four of isolation and we are no more certain of what our future is than we were on day one.  We’ve moved from announcements coming in two-week intervals to monthly, and for many schools, regardless of the ages of their students, semesters at a time.  News of future events are listed as tentative, future presentation modes as “either face-to-face or virtual,” and caveats stating that the organizer has the right to change it all.  

In other words, life right now, and for some time Read more

Reflections from my sofa

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on April 3rd, 2020 in Thoughts & Commentary

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Like all of us, as we ponder the future of our organizations, our families, ourselves, my mind is a whirling dervish, full of random thoughts, taking me from one subject to the next, with no discernable logic.  I share with you those that I think could be useful for the times in which we currently find ourselves.   

Break down your silos.  Don’t say you don’t have them, as that is not very likely.   While there are likely silos in your service offerings, if you provide multiple Read more

Controlling Our Futures

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on March 27th, 2020 in Thoughts & Commentary

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As I have listened this week to painful reports from executive directors and board presidents on layoffs, furloughs, skeletal staff, and mothballing organizations for unknown periods of time, much of my limited energy has gone to shaking my head in dismay.  My dismay is two-fold.  I am beyond sad that too many people are losing their livelihoods, as well as the source of their professional passion, and I am disheartened by how few learned the lessons from “the last time.” 

Yes, I am uncomfortable at this Read more

Stimulate Your Brain

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on March 20th, 2020 in Thoughts & Commentary

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There is a part of the brain that we who work in the nonprofit sector should understand: the right temporoparietal junction, or rTPJ. This part of the brain, which sits a bit above and back from the top of the right ear, controls a number of things important to nonprofit work — empathy, morality, selflessness, and self-control.  Scientists have been studying this part of the brain years and here are some of what we know about it?

Those with a bigger rTPJ make people behave more altruistically; If electric Read more

Learning from Others’ Mistakes

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on March 11th, 2020 in Thoughts & Commentary

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It is often said that we don’t learn from the mistakes of others; we must make their own mistakes.  Yet, it is also often said that the importance of studying history is so that we don’t repeat the mistakes (that others made) of history.  So, which is it?

Increasingly, I
think it is the former, that people don’t learn from the mistakes of others. Is
it that they don’t pay attention? That they think they are smarter; that it
won’t happen to them?  They can’t/don’t
see themselves in those “others?”

Whatever Read more

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