Lessons from the Past

The first textbook read by my students in my Masters class in governance is on the history of governance in this country.  Several students were surprised to learn that the roots of modern day nonprofit governance go all the way back to colonial days, with the establishment of the board for the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the first American Board. 

Institutions of higher learning came next, most notably Harvard (founded in 1636), William and Mary (1693) and Yale (1701).  But all of the students seemed equally Read more

Leading with Purpose

Are all nonprofits, by definition, social justice organizations?  This is a question that I pose to students in the Masters in Nonprofit Leadership program.  It is followed by questions like:  given that our purpose is to work on behalf [of some portion] of the public good, does that mean we should all also be working for social, environmental, civil, etc., justice?  Or, is the job of working for justice in whatever area fall only to those organizations with that explicitly in their missions?

Now, think about Read more

3 Monkey Culture

My holiday wish to all employees is that your leader(s) comes to understand the importance of culture.   Forget laws and regulations – they are the reactions to the failure of established, protective, positive cultures.  They are a last, and sorry, resort for a culture that has failed to do its work and to demand, and then reward, the expected and only acceptable behavior.

There are so many examples of cultures gone awry.   How about with the current craze:  writing inclusion policies.*  If you have to write Read more

The Indiscernible Nonprofit

As a sector, we are not:

thanked enough
appreciated enough
recognized enough.

Granted, none of us chooses to work in this sector because we are looking for thanks, appreciation or recognition.  But that doesn’t mean that we won’t accept any of it or be pleased to receive any of it.  But that is, without doubt, not our motivation.

Reading Sandra Day O’Connor’s public letter explaining her need to leave public life was yet another admonition from a long-serving public figure on the importance of appreciation of our democratic history, of Read more

Crazy Broke Nonprofit Workers

Recently, I heard a tiger expert in India interviewed about the controversy surrounding the suggestion that the tiger that has killed 13 people in two years should be killed.  The expert was asked whether India could learn things from other countries and how they handle their tiger population. Without a moment’s hesitation, the expert responded that India was not humble enough to learn from others.   And there it was:  my missing link in understanding why seemingly smart people repeatedly do stupid things:  they aren’t humble Read more

One Happy Family

Ever since I started teaching graduate students (something I totally spurned for my decades-long career teaching undergraduates) the traditional sadness at the end of summer has been somewhat mitigated.   Grad students, with their different perspectives, their confidence, deserved and otherwise, their willingness – no desire – to explore new ideas, and, yes, often their naiveté about the sector, is inspiring and energizing and oh so welcome.

We’ve started out exploring leadership—characteristics of a successful leader, differences between management and leadership, leadership as position and leadership as Read more

September 7th, 2018 0 Comment

Nonprofits Rebel!

Even after decades, whenever a client learns that my doctorate is in criminology, there’s always a comment and I’ve heard them all.  A common one is:  “There are a lot of criminals in nonprofits,” followed closely by, “Give me some time and I’ll figure out the connection.”

The move away from criminology—it has been a good 15 years since I taught my last criminal justice class—to immersing myself in the broader world of all nonprofits—was not gradual.  One day I was a full-time criminal justice professor Read more

No Such Thing as Overhead

In a comment on a recent discussion board post, a master’s student of mine commented that the three signers of the well-known “Overhead Myth” letters had taken a great risk and made great progress in doing so.  I delicately questioned just what she thought the risk was and just what she saw as the progress made.  I pointed out that the first letter was written in 2013, the second in 2014.  Here we were, three years after the second letter hit the airwaves, and more Read more

Mind the Gaps

Earlier this week, the only male student in the class I’m teaching this summer did a presentation on the gender wage gap in the nonprofit sector.  And though, according to the Pew Research Center, millennials seem to be kicking it, such that in 2012, the gender wage gap in newly hired millennials was only 93%, it appears that this was but a temporary kick in the rear.

Sadly, indications are that the gap begins to return to the larger disparity of the whole (84%) as millennials Read more

Donating to make a splash

Like American Express’ support of the little guy with its “Small Business Saturday” campaign on the Saturday after Black Friday, I want to a day that promotes supporting small nonprofits.  While it lacks alliteration, it makes an important point, and failing to do so is harmful to our community all across the country.

My concern for the disappearance of the small(er), community-based nonprofit has been growing over the years.  Are they ready to be put on the endangered species list?  Not yet, but there is certainly Read more