Heyday for Cynics

No matter how cynical you get, you can never keep up.”
-Lily Tomlin

The chant is getting louder:  “Tax the nonprofits!  Tax the nonprofits.  It’s the answer to all our problems.  They get away with everything.”

Every day I’m reading of another jurisdiction looking to tax nonprofits–all or some–from Honolulu seeking to rescind the property tax exemption of nonprofits to Pittsburgh wanting to not only rescind the property tax but put a tax on tuition paid to its numerous colleges and universities; from Kansas seeking to add Read more

Getting What We Deserve

We are our own worst enemies.  We perpetuate myths, we engage in worst practices instead of best and we straddle ourselves with behavior and attitudes that can do nothing but harm us.  It is time for the nonprofit sector to take control of itself and prove to the rest of the world that we deserve the respect that we so crave.

First, let’s bust the myth that our employees do NOT deserve livable, competitive salaries.  They absolutely do, and you know it.  While many nonprofits have Read more

Don’t Start the Revolution without me

My son recently had to write a paper either agreeing or disagreeing with the statement that went something like this:  Marx preached a philosophy of freedom.  As he so often does before he has to start constructing an argument, he asked me what I thought.

Well, it has been a long, long time since I read Karl Marx, but it was an easy answer for me.  Absolutely!  Marx was all about freedom—freedom from the systems and structures that alienated ourselves from ourselves and breaking away from Read more

Are Nonprofit Boards Antiquated?

Are nonprofit boards antiquated?  I’ve give a lot of thought to this topic.  There isn’t a nonprofit executive director in this country who, frustrated beyond her/his last straw, hasn’t asked that question.  Or, let me correct myself, hasn’t made that question a statement:  “!#$%^&*!  Boards are so antiquated.  Why do we even need them?”

The reality, however, is that the theory of nonprofit boards is not at all antiquated; it is the practice that that gets in the way. But, truth be told, when boards are Read more

Makings of Great Leaders

Recently, my brother became the CEO of a rather large, international, publicly traded company.  And when I received my first e-mail from him over his new signature, I was a little surprised to see that he was still using the diminutive version of his name.  So, I shot him an e-mail back saying I would have thought he’d now switch to his “real” name.  His response came back equally quickly, stating, “God, no.  Imperious, egocentric corporate cultures are the hobgoblins of hurting companies.”

My brother and Read more

Brain Drain

So, the IRS has added 155 new employees to its Exempt Organizations unit, bringing the total to 921; 100 of these new employees have been assigned to the division that does audits of nonprofits.  Yipee!  Apparently, brain drain has been happening within the Exempt Organizations unit, as many with long service in the unit are retiring.  So, whether this is an overall increase in bodies or not, it is clearly a loss of knowledge, experience and an expertise that comes only with years and years Read more

Please Don’t Pick Me

Yo, Board Presidents:  put aside your egos and listen up!  Are you really the best person for the job?

How do I dare even ask that question of someone who has been gracious enough and brave enough to volunteer her/his time to lead the leaders of an organization?  The many board members who are relieved that someone else volunteered to be board president so that they don’t have to, must be ready to ring my neck.  How can I suggest rocking the boat?  And how can Read more

The Power and Influence of Nonprofits

People need to listen to Nancy Kolb, recently retired President and Chief Executive Officer of the Please Touch Museum.  A highly accomplished individual, who steered the Please Touch Museum through 21 years of growth and accolades, she was able to negotiate not one, but two deals (okay, the first didn’t materialize once the deal was “signed”, but through absolutely no fault of Nancy’s) with the City of Philadelphia (one is not an insignificant feat; imagine what two is!) for a new site for the museum Read more

Pass the Pepto Please

Those of you who know me, know that I love the nonprofit sector.  Some might even go so far as to say I’m a missionary for the sector.  But that would be inaccurate, as I am not out to “win” anyone over or convert them to my way of seeing things.  But I have knowingly volunteered and worked in this sector since what we then called junior high school.  In the many decades since then, I’ve held one and only one job in the for-profit Read more

Free Speech for Nonprofits?

Last week, the United States Supreme Court made a decision that could have huge implications for nonprofits across America, regardless of their missions.

In Citizens United v Federal Election Commission, No. 08-205, the Supreme Court relied on the First Amendment protection of free speech to say, according to Justice Kennedy who wrote the majority opinion, that Congress may not fine or jail “citizens, or associations of citizens (emphasis added), for simply engaging in political speech.”  In other words, with its 5-4 decision, corporations are no longer Read more

January 28th, 2010 2 Comments