Don’t be a Charity Case

While nonprofits may be charities (that status granted to them by the IRS), they are not charity cases.  Nor are they martyrs.  And it is high time every nonprofit came to understand that, pull up their grown up pants and deal with it.

Nonprofits that continually act as if they are the charity cases (love the Urban Dictionary’s definition:  “[a] person who never has any money and/or is constantly broke. Yet, this person never has any problem with always asking you to lend him/her some cash. Read more

Charity vs. Philanthropy

Two recently read quotes got have me thinking about the current relationship between nonprofits that serve and nonprofits that fund—the “charities” versus the philanthropic organizations.

Almost 125 years ago, Andrew Carnegie wrote:  “It were better for mankind that the millions of the rich were thrown in the sea than so spent as to encourage the slothful, the drunken, the unworthy.  Of every thousand dollars spent in so-called charity today, it is probably that nine hundred and fifty dollars is unwisely spent—so spent, indeed, as to produce Read more

October 5th, 2012 0 Comment

Back to School

It’s that time of year:  back to school for most colleges and universities and school districts around the country.  I was among them, starting my 31st year of teaching.

What I teach now—nonprofits—is not what I taught when I started—criminology.  And no, there isn’t a link, the former a logical path to the latter, though, I must say, increasingly there does appear to be a larger commonality than I would like.

No crime this week, just nonprofit management, operations and governance, taught as part of La Salle’s Read more

September 7th, 2012 0 Comment

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

The Mistake Bank

Sometime after Newsweek and The Daily Beast joined forces, the last page of each issue of Newsweek is now “My Favorite Mistake.”  Each issue some bigwig—from business, entertainment, even politics,  talks about his/her favorite mistake that s/he has made along the way.

Sometimes, they have been game-changers in that person’s life, such as Paula Deen reluctantly leaving her home town of Albany, Georgia; other times, it was just a hugely embarrassing moment, such as Jeremy Irons, fixated on finding out when it would be appropriate to Read more

The Mistake Bank January 26th, 2012 1 Comment

How many is enough?

Recently, I’ve felt a lot like I am watching a great tennis match, say one between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal: he’s up, he’s down; he slammed it, he lobbed it.  Except the “he” is nonprofits and the up and down, slammed and lobbed are coming and going:  that nonprofit is closing its doors, this nonprofit is expanding to Philadelphia.  Unlike a tennis match, though, I’m not sure there are always winners.

On top of that, a few weeks ago, I got into a very public, Read more

Zero Sum Pie Tastes Bitter

Why does the scrutiny always get focused on the charities instead of the funders?  Are the latter immune from wrong-doing or questionable-doing?  And I am sure in far too many circles, the mere fact that I’m suggesting that a funder might do wrong is blasphemous and minimally cause for tar and feathering.  After all, look what happened to Rell Grrls  when an employee tweeted about Comcast!  But two different articles, read hours apart, just got me thinking.

Go get the nonprofit!  The New Jersey Division of Read more

We’re in This Together

I usually don’t play favorites within the nonprofit sector.  I advocate on behalf of the entire sector, not one part.  But everyone doesn’t play the same way

Arts and culture groups:  you are not the only part of the nonprofit sector that enriches our communities!  If I read one more article, op-ed piece, blog post or tweet that touts the singular benefits that arts and culture organizations bring to a community, I am going to scream.  Why do you push the rest of the sector out Read more

Chasing the Future

This past week, I had the great pleasure to attend my niece’s graduation from one of the top business schools in the country.   This school annually awards one-year fellowships to eight deserving graduates which allow them to spend a year applying their new-found knowledge in one of eight nonprofits.  Some, my niece tells me, as she is one of this year’s class of eight, even become employees of the nonprofit after the fellowships conclude.  That’s the good news.

The bad news came at a reception that Read more

Gotta Right to Sing the Blues

Maybe it is time to have a new nonprofit classification.  I’d call it “the really large ones that operate more like a for-profit than a nonprofit and give the rest of the nonprofit sector a bad name and make all nonprofits suspect in the minds of the public, the media and too many legislators.”  But I’d call them “pseudo nonprofits” for short.

The current impetus for this thinking is Blue Cross/ Blue Shield of Massachusetts.  The company revealed earlier this month that it paid its former Read more