Category: The Nonprofit Sector

I’ve written about the National Association of Nonprofit Organizations and Executives before (here). They’re the organization that suggests that nonprofit organizations should pay their board members, and that the primary responsibility of those board members is to support a strong executive director. Recently, I received an email from NANOE letting me know that I’ve been nominated to sit on their Board of Governors. Of course, this isn’t the same as their Board of Directors. No. The Board of Governors is a large group of people who are tasked to review a handful of documents that NANOE is preparing: New…
One of the things I’ve learned over my time in the nonprofit sector is that it takes a whole lot of people to make a difference in even one life. Even something as seemingly simple as getting a person who is homeless into temporary housing is a process that involves a lot of people pitching in. On large scale issues – like fighting white supremacy or changing housing policy – change is the result of the work of hundreds, or hundreds of thousands, or millions, of people. And yet… Even in the nonprofit sector, we celebrate rock stars. Even…
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…
A while ago, I had dinner at the amazing Edwins Leadership & Restaurant Institute in Cleveland, Ohio. I went to Edwins for two reasons. First, it’s an absolutely amazing French restaurant. Second, it’s changing how people in its community move from prison back into society. Let’s start with the food. Between the four of us (me, my wife, and my wife’s parents), we had roquette salad, a salad special, tofu grillé, steak au poivre, horseradish encrusted salmon with cucumbers and cream, créme brulée, and orange sorbet. All of it was amazing. Even a couple of people who had doubts about whether they…
The Obama administration recently banned ITT Technical Institute schools from accepting new students who receive federal loans or grants. Since ITT relies on that federal money for about 68% of its revenue, this could end up forcing the closure of one of the largest for-profit college chains in the country. This is important. But to understand why it’s important, it’s useful to understand how for-profit colleges like ITT make money. When a student takes out a student loan, that money goes from the lender – in this case, the government, to the school. For a for-profit school, every student who pays…
Joan Garry recently wrote about a big question in nonprofit circles: what to do with executive salaries? Or, as she phrases it: Is it inappropriate for nonprofit leaders to be well paid? This is a question that comes up a lot. On the one hand, donors and nonprofit employees are trying to solve big problems, and there’s a risk that paying the executive director a large salary will pull money from other critical areas. On the other hand, nonprofits are competing for talent and a large salary can help attract the kind of executive who will increase the amount of…
For the last several years, the nonprofit sector has been having a very serious conversation about ‘overhead’. It’s a conversation that stems from a very real problem: many donors believe that nonprofit organizations should spend at least 77% of their budgets directly on the services they provide. That might not sound like a big deal, but nonprofits – like other organizations – also need to spend money on staff salaries, office supplies, fundraising and marketing efforts, and so on. And while there’s no agreement over what nonprofit organizations should be spending on overhead, there’s broad agreement that ‘as little as possible, even…
Recently, I watched the movie Stardust, based on the novel by Neil Gaiman. A few days later, I read a white paper from ideas42 titled Poverty Interrupted: Applying Behavioral Science to the Context of Chronic Scarcity. A similar idea – or, at least, an idea that looked similar when I saw at them one after the other – appeared in both. The protagonist in Stardust is a boy named Tristan (Charlie Cox) who lives in a village called Wall. Wall is named for the wall that runs alongside it, a wall that has a gap that leads to a magical world. Tristan has…
So go out onto the corner and multiply the number of bars you see by 21 and think about what it would feel like to open up a bar on that newly envisioned corner. That’s what you’re up against in the charitable marketplace, because foundations and donors range from local to regional to national, and you’re going to need all of those levels of support to survive. FacebookTwitterLinkedInredditBuffer…
I’m on the mailing list for Mazarine Treyz at Wild Woman Fundraising, so recently I got an email about “winning the game of fundraising careers.” It started with a short summary of what Treyz was looking for in a career before she became a consultant: she wanted a job at a university, where she “could have resources to succeed in my job, like a decent database, plus fundraising colleagues who would mentor me, and a career structure, and move on up to a position that paid enough to take vacations to Paris.” Of course, she’s willing to give the reader…

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