News

The Nonprofit Hunger Games

November 3, 2015

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A while ago, at a leadership seminar I was a participant in, I sat down at a random table and met a really nice older couple, along with another participant in the program, “Jane.” We all got to talking, and it turned out the two seniors were major donors to Jane’s organization who also happened to like Vietnamese food. I said, “Hey, I know a great Vietnamese restaurant! I’d love to take you sometime. Maybe the four of us could get lunch together.”…

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Why the Sustainability Myth is just as destructive as the Overhead Myth

November 3, 2015

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Hi everyone, thanks to the latest episode of Game of Thrones, I’m depressed out of my mind. And I’m hungry. So this post will probably be slightly bitter, and have food metaphors. Last week I mentioned my piece in the Chronicle of Philanthropy regarding sustainability. Unfortunately, since the piece is for paid subscribers only, many of you were not able to read it, leading to several angry comments, and one reader who sent me a severed stuffed unicorn head.

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Capacity Building 9.0: Fund people to do stuff, get out of their way

November 2, 2015

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Some people think capacity building is boring. Well, I think it’s sexy, and I’ve spent many hours writing romantic poems about it: “Can Love’s arrows seek truest rapture/Without the quiver of Infrastructure?/Can e’er Equity take flight and sing/Save with steadfast Capacity ‘neath her wings?” (What, like your hobbies are SOOO much more interesting).

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Fundraising staffing a matter of need

November 2, 2015

How many development employees does it take to staff a nonprofit effectively? The answer: Most nonprofits aren’t sure.

“There is no comprehensive data set on the size of the organization and development staff, and that is for a very good reason — organizations and development needs vary widely depending on the circumstances,” said Kyle Caldwell, executive director of the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, in an email.

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An Executive Director’s Guide to Financial Leadership

July 24, 2015

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There is an important distinction between financial management and financial leadership. Financial management is the collecting of financial data, production of financial reports, and solution of near-term financial issues. Financial leadership, on the other hand, is guiding a nonprofit organization to sustainability. This is the job of an executive director. He or she is responsible for developing and maintaining a business model that produces exceptional mission impact and sustained financial health. To do that successfully, the executive director has to be ever mindful of essential nonprofit business concepts and realities. The following is a guide to this way of thinking for an executive—a summary of what we see as the eight key business principles that should guide financial leadership practice.

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