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On Being Realistic

We are not here to be realistic. We are here to change reality. Don’t be foolish: we aren’t going to end hunger by the end of the year. But don’t be overly cautious: we can end hunger someday, and we can do it by feeding one person at a time. ‘Being realistic’ is too often

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Free-Not-Free

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.

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You Can’t Play Someone by Doing What They Want (a Story)

Once upon a time, a woman went to a park with coolers full of 100 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. She gave the sandwiches out to anyone who came to her. Some people took a sandwich and left. Some people took a sandwich and, a little while later, came back for a second one… or a

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Proof of Identity

For people who are low-income, it can be surprisingly difficult to obtain identification. The reason for that is surprisingly simple: you need proof of identity (and often residency) in order to get proof of identity! This creates a vicious circle where not having documentation of your identity means not being able to get proof of

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Against the Urge to Win

There was a time – when I was younger and had more free time – when I argued with people on the internet. A post or article or comment would touch a nerve and I would spend hours or days in an unproductive back-and-forth with friends, family members, and complete strangers. Then, eventually, I stopped

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Fundamental Errors

One of my favorite psychological concepts is the fundamental attribution error. The basic idea is that we tend to attribute the actions of others to their character rather than their circumstances. When we see someone speeding and weaving in and out of traffic, for example, we tend to think that their reckless rather than thinking

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Charity Matters

There are Christian congregations across the country who pride themselves on their charity work. They run food pantries and clothes closets and soup kitchens. They take up collections for Church World Service or Heifer International or Operation Smile. They hose English as a Second Language classes and blood drive. in the appropriate seasons they collect

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