Lights Out on the Charity Watchdog Beacon

I am not a fan of the rating systems on which many charity watchdog groups have built their reputations, which means I’m not a fan of those kinds of watchdog groups.  In 2014, the big three (Charity Navigator, BBB Wise Giving Alliance and Guidestar) published their joint letter to the “donors of America” decrying the “overhead myth” of using overhead costs as a measure of nonprofit effectiveness. However, they failed to acknowledge their role as a driving force behind popularizing overhead ratios as a measure Read more

Charity Case

In March 2013, Dan Pallotta’s iconic TedTalk, “The way we think about charities is dead wrong,” was released; since that time, it has received over 4 million views.  If you aren’t among those four million, and nor are the staff and board of your organization, correct that oversight immediately.

In June of that same year, the three nonprofit watchdog groups (GuideStar, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, and Charity Navigator), released the first of their two letters trying to debunk the overhead myth—the very thing that they Read more

The Most Deserving List

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

Hostility toward Nonprofits

I admit I sometimes take it a bit too personally when I hear some of the biased attitudes folks hold about the nonprofit sector.  And that bias?  Pro for-profits; anti (or at least not pro) non-profits.

This semester I have 20 students in my nonprofit management class in La Salle’s MBA program.  The class is an elective, so all have self-selected into the class.  Some, by their own admission, did it because it was a hybrid class (a mix of online and face-to-face) and, therefore, very Read more

The Golden Fleece Lives on

I don’t know if the late Senator William Proxmire and Thomas Szasz, MD, ever met, but they had a lot in common.  Proxmire was a Democratic Senator (and Hill School graduate) from Wisconsin from 1957-1989.  He’s perhaps best known as the creator of the Golden Fleece Award which he gave to government funded research projects that he thought were a waste, as they merely demonstrated what everyone already knew.  Szasz is a psychiatrist and academic who long ago infuriated many of his colleagues in psychiatry Read more

There Really Are No Quick Fixes


Americans always seem to be looking for a quick fix:  meals all in one box;  the all-in-one dusting and polishing; matching services that find you the love of your life.  Maybe these work; I honestly don’t know.  But what I do know is that they take individual responsibility out of the equation. 

Let’s look at what could be used as a quick fix in the nonprofit sector.  With somewhere between 1.4 million to 1.8 million nonprofits in the United States, how do you Read more