News flash for anyone connected to a nonprofit led by a
founder or much loved, long-serving executive director: someday that person is going to leave. Regardless of timing or circumstance, when it
comes to replacing that iconic leader, the board is likely going to make one of
the biggest mistakes possible. One that
Let’s review the common mistakes boards make when hiring the
next executive director. The most
egregious is not having created a succession plan long before it was time to
even think about hiring the next executive director. Read more
The most important statement in the nearly 80-page report, “Give.org Donor Trust Report: An In-depth Look into the State of Public Trust in the Charitable Sector,” put out earlier this year by BBB Wise Giving Alliance, comes on page 10. It reads: “…the dynamic nature of public trust [in the nonprofit sector] does suggest that the sector can work toward changing public attitudes.” For any organization that has never paid attention to its trust factor and/or that has had its trust factor tarnished to any Read more
In a recent commentary published by the Philadelphia Inquirer, I suggested that we might consider issuing a “learner’s permit” to brand new nonprofits. This would give them time to get their footing, make their mistakes and assess their viability, before becoming bona-fide nonprofits. When the learner’s permit is about to expire, the nonprofit would have a review (the test) to determine if it had learned enough and gained enough experience to make it worthy of the public trust (and tax-exempt status).
This fits quite Read more
If not familiar with the phrase “tipping point,” perhaps it is now time to do so. Many may have learned of the phrase thanks to Malcolm Gladwell’s 2002 book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.”
The phrase, however, is not a Gladwell original, but a
concept borrowed from economics, sociology and epidemiology. While the concepts in each discipline play
out differently, they all end with the same result: a seemingly small change adds up to create a
big change. We ought to pay Read more
Every data point confirms that the nonprofit sector keeps growing and all indications are that the growth is not slowing down. GivingUSA told us this week that for the second year in a row, giving in both real and adjusted for inflation dropped in 2018. Another source tells us that the percentage dip in giving increases as the amount given decreases. In other words, smaller donors are disappearing faster than those who give bigger gifts, defined as $1000 or more.
Coupled with Read more
I keep hearing from people that the nonprofit sector is at a pivotal point. There is more competition, and not just from within. Threatening the sustainability of the nonprofit sector as we know it: the growth of public-private ventures; the push from millennials to make money while working on behalf of others, spurring the development of pure for-profit companies working to solve society’s problems; the declining number of households supporting charitable enterprises.
I don’t believe that the sector is broken, but rather that we are Read more
If you read this blog regularly, you’ve probably figured out
that I love data. That includes turning students on to the value of data—of
collecting the right data so they actually use it; understanding how to read,
evaluate, consume and use, the data that others collect and report out; making
decisions based on data rather than feelings.
Students remind me constantly that too few are taught how to be good
consumers of data. Thus, I periodically
take it upon myself to share tidbits of interesting data that should inform our
As the daughter Read more
The Three Estates
When did the for-profit sector join the second estate? When did we decide to view the for-profit sector through highly glossed rose-colored glasses, or even blinders? Yes, America is a capitalist society, where money is king (another nobility reference). But the nobility have been questioned, even deposed, over the centuries.
If you want to understand the US economy—what drives it, makes it tick—you’ll find much to read and learn about the three sectors of our economy. The “primary sector,” is often referred Read more
Every year, as my “Governance and Leadership” class in the Masters in Nonprofit Leadership program progresses, students’ frustration with boards’ failure to understand and execute their job builds over the duration of the course increases. As the students’ understanding of what a board is really supposed to do increases, they start comparisons with their own boards (past and present), see the gap and start to ponder how and why it so routinely exists.
As is the pattern, students’ thoughts started to coalesce at
the mid-point of Read more
longer I have spent in the nonprofit sector while simultaneously working
increasingly with for-profits, I have come to understand the great disservice
that has been done to the nonprofit sector.
I see it akin to the media setting up women, back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, with
the challenge of “can women have it all?”
So it is
with nonprofits: we have been told time and
again, and society generally believes, that the for-profit sector does things
better than we do and therefore we should emulate them. If we don’t, we are the Read more