The Rude Sector

When I started blogging, I was told it was ok to be provocative and controversial and I was prepared for flak and feedback. But I am not going for controversy or provocation here; here, I’m venting. Numerous recent experiences have led me to conclude that the nonprofit sector that I truly love has become down-right rude. I’ve got a collection of experiences to whine about, but I’ll share two recent ones with you that painfully contrast our sector with the for-profit world.

I was Read more

Kids and EDs – What’s the Matter with Them?

I have had a song swirling in my head for a couple of days now.  It is a song from “Bye Bye Birdie” which the parents, and one younger brother, sing when they believe their teenagers are off doing the kinds of nefarious things teenagers might have done in the days (1958) of “Bye, Bye Birdie.”  It is titled “Kids!” and the lines in my head are (and be glad you can’t hear me singing):  “Why can’t they be like we were, perfect in every way? What’s the matter with kids Read more

Best Practices for Nonprofit Excellence

I love the New York Times.  I’m not one of those snobs who thinks that if you aren’t reading the NYT you aren’t reading a paper, though.  It just does good journalism—and more. 

The Times recently announced that the application for its fourth annual Nonprofit Excellence Awards[1] (to be awarded in June 2010) is now available.  (By the “fourth annual” I figure this isn’t a fly-by-night deal, but something that is really here to stay.  So, it is safe to sing its praises.)  But this Read more

It’s a Zoo Around Here

We go from the politician who seems to understand nonprofits (Dan Malloy, potential candidate for governor of Connecticut and the subject of my last blog) to those who seem pretty clueless about nonprofits. I’m speaking about the city of Tampa, which wants to reinvent the wheel. Late last year, a city audit revealed that the Lowry Park Zoo—recently rated the number one zoo in America by Parent’s Magazine—wasn’t the number one best managed nonprofit in America. Far from it.

The Read more

Term Limits for Nonprofit Boards

 In response to a recent blog, I was asked the following question:  What is your opinion on term limits for board members and officers?  Opinions are one thing of which I have no shortage.  So, be careful what you ask!

The debate on term limits has been waging for decades, if not centuries.  So, there is no “settled” answer to this question.  But my own answer is very firm:  term limits—both for board members and officers—are a must.  My reasons underlying this Read more

A Tale of Two Boards


It wasn’t quite the best of boards nor the worst of them, either.  But it was a lesson in contrasts.  In the space of an hour, I got to shore up a newly minted board president struggling with a board that hadn’t yet listened to reason and also field the questions of a board that, once a table of bobble-heads, had morphed into a take charge board.  God, I love my job! Chapter I:  

a thoughtful, Read more

Four is Not Enough

 Last  week I got a call from a reporter from another part of the country asking for help.  The reporter, whose normal beat is science and medicine, was stuck looking at a 990.  And while she had gotten a lot of good information from the form, she wanted me to look at to see what I thought, see if she was on the right track, etc.  One of the first things that easily caught my attention was the list of board members.  Read more

Of Baby Boomers and Boards

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According to Linda Crompton, President and CEO of BoardSource, the number of nonprofit board members needed each year is 26 million.  Yup, you read that correctly:  both the size of the need and the frequency of the need.


This in and of itself is a huge challenge.  Couple Read more

Be Your Own Stimulus


I love Alaska.  It is the one place I’ve always wanted to visit that has so far eluded me.  So, don’t get me wrong when I say this:  finally, something good has come out of Alaska!  In fact, it is so good, I wish I’d thought of it first.  Well, I’d thought of it, and, in fact, even said it; I just didn’t bother to write it down.  What is it?  A warning:  stimulus dollars may not be good for the Read more

1.5 Million is Enough

Bad enough that I had to learn this morning of another nonprofit board that thinks it can do away with its executive director, thereby saving money, and just let board members run the organization.  (That was last week’s rant, I mean blog.)  Boards can’t do their own job!  What makes them think they can do fulfill both the management and governance functions at once and still do well by the organization? 

But now I have to see organizations and individuals all over the country Read more