Category: Management

A couple of weeks ago, I moved from an apartment into my first house. It wasn’t a long move – a couple of miles – but it was a big one. And, like all moves, there were things that went very well and things that went very badly. Something that went very well was the physical move itself. The Two Men and a Truck crew was awesome. They got the move completed in less time than they had estimated and saved us a lot of money. Ten out of ten. Would recommend. Something that went very badly was moving…
Somehow, I got on the mailing list of the National Association of Nonprofit Organizations and Executives (NANOE). The brainchild of Jimmy LaRose, NANOE is part of the charity skeptics movement that I don’t often talk about. It’s a champion of the idea that the nonprofit sector should be largely replaced by a socially conscious version of the for profit sector. The latest email I got from NANOE outlined LaRose’s vision for nonprofit board members. According to LaRose, ‘boardsmanship’ is not about governance, visioning, policy making, or volunteerism.1It’s also clearly not about gender-inclusivity. It’s about advice and accountability. Specifically, it’s…
Technology is a tool. I have worked for too many places that serve their technology rather than the other way around. Real world practices end up being determined by what their technology – and especially their databases – will allow them do to. And this has meant some bizarre practices. How weird is that? I mean, would anyone accept a hammer that required you to be standing on one leg and facing away from the nail in order to use it? No. And yet we too quickly become willing to allow our technology to determine how we do things……
If you’re part of a small nonprofit organization that solicits gifts in multiple states, you’re probably a little familiar with multistate nonprofit registration. This is the requirement that nonprofit organizations that are based in one state and ask for gifts in another state have to register with the second state. So, for example, an organization based in Davenport, Iowa, that sends a direct mail appeal across the Mississippi River to its neighbor, Rock Island, Illinois, must also register as a soliciting organization in Illinois. Now, just so we have some clarity on this and don’t cause anyone to panic,…
Every fundraiser knows that data is important. Knowing our supporters is vital, and what we need to know more than anything is how to ask them, when to ask them, and how much to ask them for. The best way to do that is by observing their past behavior. People, as a friend of mine likes to say, are reliably themselves; all things being equal, people will tend to do what they’ve always done. And if we know what someone has always done, we can subtly make other things not equal and try to change that behavior. This is why…
Last week, I saw a posting for a high level job that, along with other things, asked applicants to include their salary history. I know that this is a common practice in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, but it’s a bad practice. It’s a bad practice for a lot of reasons, but here are three big ones. First, It Takes Agency Away from the Applicant Salary histories are used for many reasons, and one reason is to weed out applicants who might be too expensive. But it’s a weird way to figure out if an applicant actually would be…
Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek is one of those books that appears again and again on lists of leadership books that everyone should read. And before I get to the review, I want to point out two shortcomings that I often find in books in the leadership genre. First, many leadership books could fit in the space of a few blog posts or newsletter articles. Second, they often reduce complex historical figures and events to bullet point lessons in leadership. They are, in short, often bloated and reductive. And while…
One of my pet peeves is the marketing tactic I call ‘free-not-free.’ For example, a nonprofit consulting firm or software company might offer a ‘free’ white paper with research and advice on fundraising, social media, web design, or a dozen other subjects. All you have to do is enter your contact information in the little form. What you expect is cutting edge research and professional advice on a real problem. And maybe a welcome email and the occasional update from that company. At most, a weekly newsletter. What you actually get is a nice infographic or booklet of information you…
Every day, some huge number of nonprofit organizations is looking for a new donor database solution. I know this because they come to forums I frequent and ask, “What donor management system should my organization buy?” It’s an impossible question to answer. Every organization is different and has different needs. And there are a lot of donor management systems out there. Playing matchmaker – without knowing a lot of organizational details – isn’t an option (and wouldn’t be ethical). But there are steps that every organization can take to separate the wheat from the chaff and make the right…
It’s an easy trap to fall into. One day, a crisis pops up and you need to solve it now. In fact, you need to solve it yesterday. So you get to work. While you’re working on that crisis, another crisis arises. There’s no time now to address the second problem, so it gets put on the back burner. But now there’s added pressure. As soon as you finish dealing with the first problem, you have to move onto the second. But by that time, problems three through seven have come on the scene. Now you’re in a bad…

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