The Good Counsel Blog


Sep

22

2015
What Should We Look For When Hiring a Nonprofit CEO?

What Should We Look For When Hiring a Nonprofit CEO?

Now that the 401Ks have bounced back, the stresses of running nonprofits are at record highs and many CEOs are in their sixties, we are witnessing a rather disproportionate CEO vacancy rate in nonprofit-land. Clearly the headhunters are doing well running high-paid searches. Their stock in trade is experience, wide networks, skill in interviewing and negotiating, finding out what is really needed and socio-metrics. The last item involves asking around about people who are potential candidates. We’ve all gotten those calls. The real question for the pros and for those agencies that are doing searches themselves is what should we look…

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Apr

15

2015
Guest Post – A Nickel Sent Was A Nickel Wasted (Almost)

Guest Post – A Nickel Sent Was A Nickel Wasted (Almost)

 By Jim Thalhuber I received a solicitation in the mail today from a well-known national nonprofit organization and there it was, peeping through the small, round window on the front of the envelope — a shiny, brand new 2015 “Return to Monticello” nickel, minted in Denver, bearing an image of President Thomas Jefferson (based on the Rembrandt Peal painting of 1800) on the obverse and the 1938 restored design of Jefferson’s Virginia home of Monticello on the reverse. I trust/hope that the soliciting nonprofit organization has done its homework and can prove that the nickel gambit is effective in securing new…

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Apr

07

2015
A New Collaboration?

A New Collaboration?

Foundations must spend at least 5% of their corpus each year, under a federal requirement governing their activities. Imagine what could be done if all of their corpus–spending and investments-were directed at their missions? What about their staffs—those substantive and technical experts they hire—could they work cooperatively as truly equal partners with nonprofits and for-profits in the formulation of the very projects they all want to see succeed? For many years, a handful of foundations have been making program-related low interest loans to further their mission; others have been managing investments away from certain areas, e.g. cigarettes, fossil fuels, gambling…

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Mar

23

2015
Organizing for Success

Organizing for Success

As consultants, we are engaged for many reasons: an organization has a great mission, but needs help to operationalize its program; or an organization has a need for funding, but doesn’t have a plan; or the Executive Director micromanages and needs help in sorting out what she/he should actually be doing. One thing every organization needs is time. Time to plan. Time to think about the how’s, who’s and when’s. Planning is key to operational success. Yet, we hear clients tell us they feel reactive or they are constantly trying to get ahead of the work, ahead of funding deadlines, ahead…

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Feb

02

2015
A New, Old Fear

A New, Old Fear

Since the great recession of 2007-2010, gifts to charities have changed in subtle ways. Not only was there a temporary reduction in overall totals, but the mix has also changed. The interior and shape of the gift pyramid have changed. Donor behavior has changed. There are many bright spots as we emerge from the crisis. We hear many accounts of increases in digital giving, often in small amounts, although in larger numbers. Certain “days” resound with increasing totals, such as the Give to the Max and Giving Tuesday. Crowd-funding may be a new avenue, or a temporary fad. We also…

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Dec

29

2014

2015: Ten Nonprofit Trends

The new year will be a better year all around for the nonprofit sector, part of the post 2008-09 recovery. Many variables are in play, as always, with the following ten standing out for special attention in 2015. 1. The Growing Disparity within the Nonprofit Sector Similar to the growing disparity in family household incomes, there is and will continue to be a growing gap between the well-established large nonprofits and the smaller less stable mass. In terms of percentage growth, in terms of income growth, in terms of program growth, the larger organizations are thriving while the others are, in…

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Dec

17

2014
Guest Post – Mandate Orientation and Training for Nonprofit Board Members?

Guest Post – Mandate Orientation and Training for Nonprofit Board Members?

Guest Post By Jim Thalhuber Seems like six months can’t pass without a Minnesota nonprofit organization making headlines for alleged mismanagement, misuse of funds or some other misdeed. In the past week alone, two Twin Cities nonprofits were the focus of multiple media headlines. “Despite warnings, state kept cash flowing to controversial nonprofit” was the December 11 headline on the MPR News website. This followed a December 9 Star/Tribune headline reading “New details arise on Community Action spending.” The nonprofit connected to these headlines is Community Action of Minneapolis, an agency that provided heating assistance and other aid to low-income…

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Dec

04

2014
Ten Behaviors: Creating a Culture of Philanthropy

Ten Behaviors: Creating a Culture of Philanthropy

The idea of creating a culture of philanthropy is hot right now, either a fad or a real commitment by nonprofits to envelop boards, staff, volunteers and constituency (visitors, members, clients, patients, volunteers, staff, committee members, board members, donors, legacy leavers, etc.) in deep recognition of the overall importance of philanthropy in the life of the organization. (See my earlier posting on the Culture of Philanthropy) There are many websites talking about it, listing what to do in training, offering training, listing qualities to be achieved, selling packages, offering consulting and on and on. We know it takes years, often,…

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Oct

06

2014
What Next?

What Next?

Will all nonprofits-agencies, foundations, associations, support groups, etc.- have to register with the feds as commodity-pool operators if they have endowments or other invested assets? In his Wall Street Journal column, Jason Zweig reports that the Dodd-Frank Act requires Commodities Future Trading Commission registration if an organization that oversees money “for more than one entity-other nonprofits, certain affiliates, or individuals- and invests, even indirectly, in certain financial contracts.” Nonprofits, per se, are not exempted from the provisions of the Act, which is aimed at the causes of a number of financial collapses due to investments in high risk deals including…

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Sep

22

2014
The New Role – Will Our Sector Lead?

The New Role – Will Our Sector Lead?

The number of challenges to the nonprofit sector, what I call the civil benefit sector, is increasing at a rather rapid rate. What the economists characterize as the “failures of the market” are under increasing pressures to be something else. At heart, we are the embodiment of the noble American traditions of collective action for the common good. We always cite the neighbors who bring the lumber and the lunch to rebuild the barn. Toqueville recognized a good thing. What we symbolize is the great stream of generosity toward others, of mutual help, of teaching our neighbors “to fish,” rather…

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