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

$1000 Board Paydays

Those of us who have long subscribed to best practices in nonprofit governance have reason to be appalled by the National Organization for Nonprofit Organizations and Executives pushing out its own version of best practices for nonprofits.  It is difficult to know anything for sure about this less than two-year-old organization, as its website provides very little information unless you sign up.

But apparently this group has managed to get followers, as there are pictures on its website of its convention and expo.  And it is Read more

Information is Power (Especially in a Nonprofit)

One of the most frequently asked questions I received during the Great Recession was, “Should we tell staff that ____________?”  You may fill in the blank with such things as, “we have spent down our reserve” or “we are going to have a cut a program” or “we are going to have to lay off staff” or similar disquieting scenarios.  I’m reminded of these times for two reasons.

First, more and more folks are already likening the current development climate for nonprofits to those starting in Read more

Mastering Nonprofit History

As someone who believes in the learning power of history, I am increasingly dismayed by how little others value history.  While modern-day board members seem to have struggled for decades to grasp just what they are supposed to do and how they should do it, those who populated the earliest boards in America—the boards of educational institutions—figured it out long ago.  All we have to do is follow.

I require students in my masters level governance class to read about the history of governing boards in Read more