Get it in Writing

How do I love thee, nonprofit sector?  Let me count the ways.  Well, first:   Are we not a collegial sector;  one tempered by mutual respect? By the presumption that we are a team, working in partnership to achieve mutually defined and shared goals?

No, I am not naïve. I’ve worked and volunteered in this sector for decades.  I know the reality.  And I know that those who come into the sector truly understanding and valuing the presumption I outlined above, execute that presumption–fully.  Those who Read more

Own Your Reputation

How often have you heard:   “The only thing we have is our reputation?”  You’ve probably heard it from a parent, teacher, advisory, mentor, sales coach—you name it.  As it is for individuals, so it is for organizations.  The most prized possession an organization has—for profit or nonprofit, though my concern here is only with the latter—is its reputation.  So, why oh why would we turn it over to others to manipulate?

It is why I rail so against most nonprofit’s conflict of interest policies, designed to Read more

Sometimes mother does know best

When it comes to political and nonprofit leaders coming up with interesting ideas, the United Kingdom is outshining its American child.  First, this past summer, Prime Minister David Cameron announced his intention to create a Big Society Bank.  (Just the name sends shivers up and down my spine!)  Initial funding for this bank – to the tune of  £350m to £400m (the equivalent of $544,519,104 to $622,307,547 in US dollars) – will come from bank accounts that have been dormant for at least 15 years.

But Read more

Life in 140 Characters

When I was growing up, we had a vacation home on the Potomac River, right outside of Shepherdstown, West Virginia. We used the house primarily for weekends throughout the course of the year, with a bit more time during school holidays.  One of the first things we did as we drove into town on the way to our house was to stop and buy the current edition of the Jefferson County local newspaper (The Chronicle and The Shepherdstown Chronicle.

My siblings and I loved reading those papers.  Read more

Freedom vs. Burden in Charitable Giving

It starts right about now:  an increase in solicitations in your snail and email boxes, on your phone and via all forms of social media, asking for donations for what is hoped is your favorite charity.  It continues with the news articles and radio and television stories on assessing where and how to give.  It continues right up to the first note of Auld Lang Syne.

The tug of war has begun:  charities that need your money versus the highly sought (and in high demand) donors Read more

What’s Normal About the New Normal?

I hate current hot phrases and this one is no exception:    the new normal.  If the current economic conditions—by which I don’t mean the level of unemployment, the number of home foreclosures on the books, the lack of agreement as to how we got where we are and hot to get out, but rather the reduction in credit availability, people’s fear of unemployment and their hesitancy to spend money on anything other than essentials, and more—are, in deed, the new normal, why haven’t nonprofits moved Read more

Idiot Says What?

It is time for a basic lesson in research and the creation of sound conclusions.  Too many people are publicly exposing their stupid sides because they simply don’t understand the basics of how to draw conclusions.

So, let me give you a primer.

NUMBER ONE:  We never, ever generalize our learning from one subject to the whole group into which that one subject might fall.  In other words, experiencing the inefficiencies of one nonprofit does not allow us to generalize and conclude that all nonprofits are inefficient.  Read more

Politics and Charity

I subscribe to several virtual clipping services that send me, daily, the headlines of stories about nonprofits from around the country and, occasionally, from around the world.  I subscribe to several because, despite the redundancy, there are, more often than not, unique items on each service.

But why do I do this?  I get more than enough e-mails on a daily basis so why add more that I need to read?  First, it allows me to maintain a national perspective.  Are the things going on in Read more

Who Mentored You?

Even in death, my father is still guiding, teaching and showing me the way things should be done.

This past weekend was my father’s memorial.  Though we did not officially invite anyone to speak at his memorial, my sister, brother and I knew well in advance that several wanted to share their remembrances.  The evening of the memorial, we asked any one else who wished to say something, to please feel free to do so.  And the floodgates opened.

My son, who was to be the last Read more

What’s your Workplace Culture?

I do not believe in coincidence; I do, however, believe that when multiple, yet disparate, sources point out the same thing, it is important to pay attention.  So, when days after hearing a story on NPR about ROWE–results-only work environment–my reading of Daniel Pink’s book, Drive, brought me to his discussion of ROWE, I knew I needed to pay attention.

According to Pink, ROWE was the invention of Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, two human resources professionals.  In a ROWE, employees simply have to get the Read more