Words Matter

The daughter of two writers learns this in the womb:  language choices matter. 

Not too long ago, I was reminded of this when reading the article aptly titled, “Quantifying Impact Alienates Nonprofit Employees,” which spoke of research by Julia Morley of the London School of Economics. 

Over the decades, I have worked with many organizations helping them to introduce not the language of impact evaluation but impact evaluation itself.  More often than not, there is an immediate and palpable resistance. 

It seems that when we Read more

Five Crucial Questions

“Do more for more with less.”  How often do we hear that suggestion, primarily from funders, but also from board members and even executive directors?  To promote doing more for more with fewer resources presumes you were either previously wasting money, spending more than you should have been and/or you don’t care about the quality of services you are providing and the results you are achieving with your clients.

There are, however, some incidences where less is more.  For example, putting less policy and unnecessary specifics Read more

January 4th, 2019 0 Comment

The Accidental Board President

Although the position of board president is one of the most critical ones in a nonprofit, there is often little thought and intentionality put into the process of filling the position.   I literally have seen board presidents elected because they left the room at the wrong time.  Many of us have seen people elected as board president because they were the only ones whose arms could be twisted to take the job.  Too many of us have seen the position filled by the person “next Read more

Time to Go

Executive directors routinely ask me how to know when it is time to leave.  I wish board members asked me that same question:  how do they know when it is time for the executive director to leave?

It isn’t that I don’t think the first question is an important one for every executive director to ask him/herself regularly.  Though the essence of my answer has not changed over time, the order in which I deliver my responses has.

The first part is this:  it is time to Read more

Benefits of Pruning

In the plants world, there are times of the year where you are and aren’t supposed to prune in order to yield more controlled and fuller future blooming.  Fortunately, while pruning in the nonprofit sector isn’t limited to certain seasons, we can still reap the same benefits:   a more intentional, stronger, fuller incarnation of ourselves in the future.

I regularly am told of boards’ and executive directors’ travails of working with individuals who aren’t producing as they should, are undermining the culture of the organization, are Read more

Do you Speak Social Investment?

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At The Nonprofit Center, we recognize the need to support nonprofits seeking to start social enterprises as part of their search for new, sustainable funding streams.  But one of the big questions is where to find start-up money.  While certainly there are some who could find the funds in their reserves or in an unrestricted endowment, others may seek a PRI (program related investment) from a foundation, and still others may be able to get a bank loan, there are plenty for whom Read more

Jumbo Shrimp

I love oxymorons, and frequently get tired of having to use the crystal clear example of jumbo shrimp to explain to the uninitiated what an oxymoron is.  Thanks to Thomas Wolf, author of Managing a Nonprofit in the 21st Century, I was reminded of one I’d clearly long forgotten:  organized abandonment.  (It was Peter Drucker who introduced this concept.)  Whenever I hear this term, I see a wonderful flower power child running through fields with a billowing skirt, long hair blowing in the wind, flowers Read more