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

Value Learning in your Nonprofit

Whenever I talk to groups about core values—those principles for how you do the work of the mission, and their importance in a nonprofit, I always use an example of one particular The Nonprofit Center’s core value.  I always choose it to really hit home on a particular point that Jim Collins’ makes about core values:  they are not restatements of what’s in your mission; they are independent of your mission.

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In fact, they are so independent that one of the questions Collins Read more

In Search of the 3 Musketeers

This semester I’m teaching two graduate classes: a class in nonprofit management in La Salle’s MBA program and one nonprofit management in our Masters in Nonprofit Leadership program. While I’ve taught each of these classes before, I’ve never taught them simultaneously. In both classes, though I have a bit of a different approach, I have the same end goal: like Jim Collins, I want these future leaders not to think about what is a great nonprofit organization as opposed to a great for-profit organization, but Read more

Leadership under Milennials?

Are we getting lazier?  Or, have we always been a lazy sector?  I’m really not sure of the answer, but I know we need to confront it.

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This past week, I read 108 mission statements, the result of an assignment I’d given to two of my classes:  one in La Salle’s Masters program in Nonprofit Leadership and the other in our MBA program.  To be sure, two very different groups of students.

The assignment was to pick any three mission statements of the student’s Read more

Ethics Start at the Top

Ethics, smethics (yes, I’ve blogged about this before).  Increasingly, and sadly, that appears to be what the nonprofit sector thinks of ethics.  Something to rhyme with, but nothing to take seriously, as evidenced by story after story, from every corner of our country, of organizations operating unethically.

Pulled from headlines just in the last several weeks:  nonprofits operating as a family business, too numerous to mention, and then making loans to family’s private business (Footings, in Monroe, New York); executive director embezzling $500,000 with the aid Read more