Mixing Art & Science

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the art and science of fundraising.  But the truth is, that so much of what we do in the nonprofit sector – particularly when it comes to managing and governing a nonprofit – is a mix of art and science.  A lover of art and a scientist at heart, I believe in the power of knowledge based on research, rather than based on what we want to be true or think is true or my experience of Read more

June 28th, 2012 0 Comment

Playing the numbers

The Center on Philanthropy just released its Giving USA 2012 report.  To announce the findings, they take their dog and pony show on the road and included Philadelphia for the first time. .

In case you have missed the high level summary of the results, here it is.  (I’ll leave you to decide whether the news is good, bad or indifferent.)

Giving by individuals, 81% of all gifts given in 2011, rose almost 4% in 2011, but only .8% in inflation adjusted dollars.
Adding up individual giving, from Read more

June 21st, 2012 0 Comment

Job Title vs. Job Content

Based on reading CEO/ED profiles in various media outlets and listening to them talk, what the vast majority of these leaders dislike most about their jobs is anything related to HR.  The issue within this expansive area of executive director responsibility where I hear the most gnashing of teeth, tearing out of hair, and, most disconcerting to me, self-flagellation, has to do with the director of development position.  Executive directors beat themselves up because they can’t seem to “get it right;” as a result, executive Read more

Let’s Have a Party!

I recently ran into a funder I hadn’t seen in a while.  In response to the standard question of “How are you?” she responded with a roll of the eyes and “This is ‘death by gala’ season.”  We both laughed, but it is so, so true.  Name the time of day you wish to eat, and there is a gala waiting—breakfast, lunch, drinks, dinner, dessert?  It is all there.  And it isn’t just killing funders; it is driving executive directors and staff over the edge.

There Read more

Strut your Stuff

On my drive into work one morning this week (all of 25 minutes), I heard three stories about cutbacks as the result of struggling economies.   Some are done deals, others still in the proposal stages.  There was the elimination of school bus service in a school district in Colorado (done), slashing the number of prisons in New York State (proposed) and the withdrawal of support staff in the courts of Florida (proposed).  I particularly liked one person’s comment in the Florida story:  would you send Read more

Freedom vs. Burden in Charitable Giving

It starts right about now:  an increase in solicitations in your snail and email boxes, on your phone and via all forms of social media, asking for donations for what is hoped is your favorite charity.  It continues with the news articles and radio and television stories on assessing where and how to give.  It continues right up to the first note of Auld Lang Syne.

The tug of war has begun:  charities that need your money versus the highly sought (and in high demand) donors Read more

The Double Standard for Nonprofits and For-Profits

We live in a world where double standards are the accepted norm. As a society, we are slowly working on redressing certain double standards, as in race and gender. It’s time to call attention to an enduring double standard for for-profits and nonprofits.

We hear again and again that nonprofits are businesses and they should be run as such. I couldn’t agree more, but with a few caveats, such as tempering our bottom line with our mission and having to raise some of our income Read more