Category Archives: Nonprofit Sector


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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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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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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Aug

28

2014
Is this a Good Idea?

Is this a Good Idea?

Do we need yet another group organized to promote nonprofit organizations and defend their good name? Do we need a march to support “the cause of causes?” Dan Pallotta, the controversial special events organizer and TED talk champion of nonprofit organizations’ need for such things as sufficient overhead and competent administration, has just formed the Charity Defense Council. Do we need Defense, or do we really need Offense? The Council purpose is to create better, widespread public understanding of nonprofits’ need for appropriate overhead, for market compensation of workers and for greater public support for increased giving. The CDC’s agenda…

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Jul

14

2014
Creating a Culture of Philanthropy

Creating a Culture of Philanthropy

Everyone these days appears to be using the concept of a “Culture of Philanthropy” to get the point across that nonprofit organizations rely on resources and relationships for their sustenance, if not their existence. When googled, the concept receives 461,000 entries, seemingly mostly from consulting firms seeking business. The phrase is a great summary of what nonprofits are all about, especially in a procedural way. Substantively, we research, we teach, we feed, we exhibit, we heal, we preach, we tinker—we do many things benefitting civil society. Procedurally, we’re being told that our culture—our beliefs, opinions, values, orientations, relationships, and interactions—needs…

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Jun

19

2014
What Does the Village Need?

What Does the Village Need?

Often, in many contexts, we hear the saying about, “It takes a Village to…” But what does the Village itself need these days to be able to do what it is supposed to do? Ultimately, if the Village is that important, we’d better make investments, positive investments, in any way we can. Conventionally, we look to three sources for this investment in the Village, here and abroad: government, private enterprise and philanthropy. Not one can do the job. It seems that two of the three are becoming quite limited in ability to invest. Government investment in infrastructure is at a…

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Jun

09

2014
Five Inexorable Nonprofit Changes

Five Inexorable Nonprofit Changes

Sometimes change is dramatic, cataclysmic. The volcano in Iceland erupts. This rarely happens in the world of nonprofit organizations, where constant but more subtle change is apparent. The ice shelf in Antarctica is irreversibly melting. Even the iconic, national American pastime has evolved from infielders standing on bases to times when no one is anywhere near third base! The difference is similar to whether a lobster is thrown directly into boiling water, or into a pot of cold water that’s gradually heating up. The result is often the same, one taking a bit longer. The same scenario with the pot…

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Apr

28

2014
Civil Benefit Organizations

Civil Benefit Organizations

We wrote recently about the nonprofit sector’s name as something we’re not, as something that doesn’t say what we do, how we do it or what comes of it. So we concluded that the descriptor “nonprofit” has to go. But what to call ourselves? Response wasn’t overwhelming, although there were some very good ideas generated, really good ones. Unfortunately, like the ten we cited, all suggested names left something out that needed to be there. The idea of “benefit” seemed appropriate in describing the work, so we needed to find the all-embracing element that received the benefit. The more we…

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