November 26, 2016

Men. Women. Female. Male. Glass ceilings. Better lives.

I found this draft in my blog folder. Somehow lost it. Never posted it. Or did I? Hmmmm….. I think not.

Obviously I drafted this before USA election day. Oh well. The articles are still good.

—-Here’s what I wrote and never posted. Title as is. Original blog text below—-

Read the articles below. Then stop telling me you don’t like Hillary.

Pay attention!

Women’s rights = human rights. Human rights = male rights = women’s rights.

What Women Owe Hillary Clinton

When Women Win, Men Win, Too

A Glass Ceiling Now Broken, Is U.S. Ready for a Madam President?

Filed under: Social Commentary

November 14, 2016

I will stop now…after this last one…

Very good LinkedIn comment from Kevin Feldman about following U.S. law. And being donor centered. I agree.

But I have additional comments. About silence is consent. About public policy and advocacy. About the ethical and moral role of the nonprofit sector.

First read Kevin’s remarks: Do Not Let Your Politics Ruin Your Fundraising. Then scroll down for my response.

Do read Waldemar Nielsen’s monograph “The Third Sector: Keystone of a Caring Society.” See Chapter 1 in my book Strategic Fund Development: Building Profitable Relationships That Last, 3rd edition, beginning on page 6, “Why does this sector matter?”

And always keep nearby John Gardner’s beautiful monograph, “Building Community,” also discussed in my book Strategic Fund Development.

Check the Independent Sector for the Gardner and Nielsen pieces. I read both of these more than 20 years ago– and they’re still favorites.

Okay. Enough.


Filed under: Social Commentary

November 10, 2016

More about the US election

Some people don’t like my social commentary blogs. That’s okay. Don’t read them. I have enough other blog categories [governance/boards, fundraising, nonprofit management, etc. etc. and so forth]. Read those.

But I promised myself years ago that my website would do two things:

  • Provide free resources for the nonprofit sector worldwide. And my Free Download Library and monthly newsletter do that.
  • Second, that I would speak out regarding justice and fundamental human rights. Because silence is consent. And I choose to take the risk to speak out. Those are my social commentary blogs.

Today is Thursday, November 10. The second day after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Here are more articles to stimulate thinking:

Filed under: Social Commentary

October 21, 2016

The world and my nephew Daniel

I’ve just left #2016IFC, the International Fundraising Congress.

Wonderful seeing colleagues from around the world. Wonderful to get beyond North America and beyond western Europe. So many voices and perspectives and stories and dreams and comitments to caring for the world and its people.

Talking with people outside the U.S. And everyone asks me, “WTF is going on in the U.S.? Who is this Donald Trump? How could anyone support his hate and ignorance and ego and….

So here’s something my nephew Daniel the movie critic posted on Facebook right after the last debate. I’ve highlighted what I consider is the most wonderful statement from Daniel.


“This was by far the best debate of the three, at least in terms of substance. I have two major takeaways.
  • While I’ve been an open Hillary supporter since it became apparent Bernie no longer had the math to win, tonight was the moment I decided (realized?) she really might be a great President. Between the three debates, we’ve seen Hillary stand up to five hours worth of a clinically insane man lying to her face, lying to the country, and insulting her in every way imaginable. Her poise in those five hours is truly an act of superhuman resolve and composure. And tonight, in a debate that dug much deeper into the issues than mere soundbites, she so clearly has ideas, passion, and optimism–at a time where almost no Americans have optimism–and she really knows what the fuck she’s talking about. My vote for Hillary Clinton switched tonight from an act of necessity to an act of pride and excitement. 
  • We’ve collectively been joking that 2016 might be the year of the apocalypse because of this election. We saw all the signs–Cleveland won a championship! The Cubs might win the World Series! David Bowie and Prince checked out at just the right time! Over the last 2-3 weeks, it’s become pretty obvious that Hillary Clinton will win this election, and it likely will be one of the larger landslides in history. Many of us put our apocalypse predictions on hold over these past weeks. But tonight emphatically proved that the apocalypse is probably still coming, and it’s not because Trump might win, or that “they’re both so bad we’re screwed either way.” No, the apocalypse might still come because Donald Trump will refuse to lose. It can’t be overstated how terrifying this idea is. I’ll turn it over to my boy, Bruce Springsteen, who weighed in on this earlier this week:
“…He’s such a flagrant, toxic narcissist that he wants to take down the entire democratic system with him if he goes. He’s such an unreflective person. He simply has no sense of decency, no sense of responsibility about him. The words that he’s been using over the past several weeks really are an attack on the entire democratic process… I think it’s very dangerous. He does have a lot of people’s ears, and I don’t think he’s going to go quietly, gently into the good night, I think he’s going to make as big a mess as he can, and I don’t know what that’s going to mean, but we’ll find out shortly.”

Filed under: Social Commentary

February 5, 2016

Electing a black president…Electing a woman president…

The US of A elected a black man for president. Amazing. Wonderful. And, honestly, I’m very proud. (Although I don’t believe this is a post racial society. I believe we are still a racist country. And it’s sad that we have to have another movement to end racism, Black Lives Matter. But I’m glad that some people continue the fight against racism.)

The US of A has the chance to elect a woman president. Amazing. Wonderful. And, honestly, I’d be very proud. But the sexism – obvious and apparent sexism and blind and unaware sexism – are as rampant as racism. (Maybe more rampant. Shirley Chisholm thought sexism was deeper than racism. She said: “As a black person, I am no stranger to race prejudice. But the truth is that in the political world I have been far oftener discriminated against because I am a woman than because I am black.”

I’m a big fan of Michael Moore and his work. Amazing. Wonderful. But honestly, I’m disappointed. Check out this insightful article about Moore and the way he talks about supporting Bernie Sanders. Michael Moore…justice activist…political lefty. Yippee – and I mean that honestly. But I’m very concerned – very very very concerned – about his “casual chauvinism.”

Read the entire article. Just to give you a taste, a couple statements from the article:

  • “I wouldn’t expect Moore to back Clinton or even say anything particularly nice about her. But he can’t even acknowledge to female readers that this great progressive sees that having a woman president would be on its own terms a salutary thing?”
  • “I obviously have no idea whether Moore contemplated such a sentence and rejected it or it just never occurred to him. Either way, it tells us something. To a lot of men, even men of the left, the woman-president thing just isn’t important.”

Even progressive men don’t seem to think the woman-president thing is that important. What an indictment. And I fear it’s true. Mr. Moore, how could you not mention the importance of electing a woman president in this country? You can still endorse Bernie. But you could recognize and acknowledge the gender bias in this country and mention “the first black man” and “the first woman” as equally important.

Let’s not be naive. Sexism is alive and well worldwide. And YES, in the US of A, too. Just like racism is. Research proves it. The UN documents it. And the references below are just the tip of a very big gender bias iceberg in the US of A.

And the sexism is so institutionalized in the US of A that women running for any office are at a disadvantage. Media bias against women. Societal bias against women. Yes. All true. And the references below are just the tip of a that same big iceberg.

So back to the beginning of this morning’s rant…. I want Michael Moore – a progressive – to recognize that electing a woman president is just as important as electing a black president. And more important than electing a Catholic president or a divorced president or….

Filed under: Social Commentary

November 9, 2015

Discomfort with strangers…people who are different than…

I find it somewhat curious… rather annoying… and totally distasteful. All this anger at immigrants (or the possibility of immigrants). Let’s lock those other people up. Let’s put them in some dark corner of our city. Let’s build a wall – maybe even two or three! – to keep them out.

All the while, today’s world is so connected. Your grocery store. My clothing store. YouTube. The news. Photos. People. So much connection.

Yet so much suspicion and distaste – even hatred –  for those who are different.

Here’s a postcard from my French cousin Fab and her partner husband Jean-Claude. The postcard comes from the Memorial of the Camp des Milles. This postcard proclaims, “Understand in order to agitate.”

Here’s the original version as seen on the postcard. Scroll down for the English translation.

Ton christ est juif

Ta voiture est japonaise

Ton couscous est algerin

Ta démocratie est grecque

Ton cafe est bresilien

Ton chianti est italien

Et tu reproches a ton voisin d’être un étranger…

Your christ is jewish

Your car is japanese

Your couscous is algerian

Your democracy is greek

Your coffee is brazilian

Your chianti is italian

And you reproach your neighbor because s/he is a stranger               

A tribe can be wonderful. Just read Seth Godin’s book of that name. Think about what we want to do with donors – build a tribe that cares. Think about movements like social justice – building a tribe that will act together for good.

Tribes can be so marvelous and special and extraordinary and helpful and useful and great agents of change.

And tribes can be so awful, so disgusting, so vicious, so harmful, so hurtful. I fight those tribes. I want them gone gone gone.

Which tribes do you belong to? Which tribes do you avoid – and even fight?

P.S. An important article about change in U.S. demographics (in a decade or so, whites will be the minority). But who continues to seemingly control the world?

October 28, 2015

Bad government regulation…silent NGOs…cautious fundraisers…

I’m thinking this is a recipe for failure:

  • Several cups of: Government that doesn’t analyze; and, eliminates any input from fundraisers.
  • A couple cups of: Overly sweet NGOs with no tartness or saltiness at all.
  • Add a big dose of fear.
  • Add a pinch of arrogance.
  • Mix well to ensure no discernible flavor.

And there you have it… Nonsensical government regulation…sour and rotten. Accompanied by very few dissident voices because fear overcomes clear thinking and the will to fight.

Damn it. This is a too-commonly baked recipe in the nonprofit sector. 

Are you wondering what I’m taking about? A current British recipe resulting from the suicide of Olive Cooke. Her death is attributed to the crass fundraising strategies of ignoble nonprofits. Yes, that’s the hue and outcry from British media, and some vocal leaders of the nonprofit sector, mostly unchecked by thoughtful leaders.

What a silly, sorry accusation for an apparently lovely woman who gave time and money to charities that she cared about. How unfortunate that the nonprofit sector isn’t more respected and valued. Too sad that condemnation and threats cause so many to stay too silent.

So now there will be new regulations in the U.K. Bad new regulations that will hurt those in most need.

[A momentary aside: Despite the absurdity of “suicide due to fundraising,” it’s certainly valid to ask how NGOs and their fundraisers raise money. How we treat donors…How often we contact donors…What kind of choice we give donors…How we justify our voracious fundraising strategies with so little care for our donors…And on and on and on. Perhaps this is the wake-up call our sector needs?]

Don’t think that this can only happen in the U.K. Oh my, no! I’ve seen similar recipes in the U.S. for decades and decades. I listen to worried colleagues around the world.

Surely this entire situation – including response from the media and the sector and donors – is a useful conversation to have in your organization. What to do? Try the following:

  1. Assign your staff to read about Olive Cooke and the U.K. debacle. Then read Adrian Sargeant’s blog and The Agitator blog by guru Roger Craver. Now talk.
  2. Spend some time at an upcoming board meeting talking about the British situation. Then identify similar situations in your country. Talk about your NGO’s role in speaking out for or against public policy. Talk about how you might respond to donors who might be curious or even worried.
  3. Gather together some of your fundraising colleagues around your community – maybe your local fundraising association. Explore topics like: Position of the nonprofit sector, its value and respect for it… Speaking out as a sector, focusing on facts rather than hysteria and frenzy…

More recipes like this produce a weakened NGO sector. And a weakened NGO sector harms our communities, our societies, and – yes – the entire world.

So let’s get our act together. Please.


June 5, 2015

The 50-year anniversary…justice…

Sunday, June 7 is a critically important day for those who believe in social justice. We will celebrate an important historical milestone in the reproductive rights movement…the 50th anniversary of Griswold vs. Connecticut.

On June 7, 1965, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that married couples had the right to privacy in making medical decisions about the use of contraceptives. This landmark decision legalized birth control on a national level, and opened a pivotal door for the expansion of vital reproductive health services for women and their families across the nation.

I’m proud to be a board member of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England (Rhode Island and Connecticut.) It’s my honor to serve as Board Chair, 2014 – 2016. And I give to PPFA, too.

Here’s part of what our CEO, Judy Tabar, shared with the PPSNE Board of Directors:

“It was the arrest in 1961 of one of my predecessors, Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut executive director Estelle Griswold along with Dr. Lee Buxton for counseling and providing patients with birth control that set this historic case in motion.

“While we have made phenomenal progress in the past 50 years, we still have a long way to go before all women can fully realize the rights that were won with the Griswold case. Troubling health disparities persist across race and class lines in our society. The United States still has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the developed world. Yet just as all those involved in the Griswold case knew they could make a difference, I know that we too can – and are! – creating positive change.

“Let’s imagine 50 years from now when we celebrate Griswold’s 100th anniversary. By then we can erase the health disparities that currently exist among young women, low-income women and women of color. Together, let’s continue building a future where everyone can access the information and services they need. Let’s build a future where all women, men, and teens can fully pursue their dreams, wherever they may lead.”

Thank you, Judy, for these important words.

I see Estelle’s photo in the lobby of PPSNE corporate headquarters whenever I’m there. I smile and thank her. And I thank all the donors and volunteers and staff who fight for reproductive rights and justice everywhere. All this is part of social justice.


Filed under: Social Commentary

January 8, 2015

Racism…then and yes, still…

One of my favorite magazines is the Nonprofit Quarterly. I love the print publication and the daily online feed.

You probably think this magazine is all about the nonprofit sector. You know… things like fund development and governance and planning and budgeting and ethics and marketing and… You’re right. But not only those things…

NPQ also writes about what’s happening in society and what the nonprofit sector could SHOULD be doing about what’s happening. Things like public policy and advocacy and political action.

  • NPQ writes about Ferguson, Missouri (that race thing if you don’t follow the news in the U.S.) – and the other Ferguson-type stuff like Trayvon Martin and NYC and and . NPQ writes about racism.
  • Because if the nonprofit sector – and every single NGO – doesn’t have some concern about racism and poverty and government and public policy … Then why does this sector exist? If every single nonprofit is not interested in what’s happening in society … not just the nonprofit’s tiny part of society … then how can this sector matter all that much?

So read this article. EVERYONE read this article, “Teenager’s Murder Conviction Vacated – 70 Years Too Late,” written by Shafaq Hasan, from USA Today. Learn about the youngest American ever executed, 14-year old George Stinney, Jr.

  • Share this article with everyone you know. Your friends and family and and and ….
  • And remember that a publication serving the nonprofit sector – serving the professionals and volunteers working in the sector – writes about racism and other societal issues….. with the hope that nonprofits are doing something about it. With the hope that the NGO sector will stand up and speak out.

Do you subscribe to NPQ? Think about joining up in 2015.

And speaking of racism… Read “We Want Real Justice, Not Dead Cops,” by Carl Gibson and Binta Baxter. Posted on 12-24-14 by Reader Supporter News.

June 2, 2014

Race and the United States

“… [I]t is all About Race, even though it can’t be About Race because nothing ever is About Race.” What a glorious statement from Charles Pierce, Esquire, referencing the U.S. Senate’s vote not to approve Debo Adegbile’s nomination as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.

See this article, “The Senate Democrats Chicken Out in Nominating Debo Adegbile.

How can people think we’re living in a post-racial society … just because we elected a black president?  Racism runs rampant in the U.S. Racism is institutionalized – and we’re socialized.

It’s all About Gender, too …  even thought it can’t be About Gender because nothing ever is About Gender. Hmmm…

In my state, the previous governor, Donald Carcieri appointed 3 (or was it 5?) white men to the judiciary in his first few months in office. Like there are only white men in Rhode Island? Like they’re the most competent? Like who in his administration was aware of or concerned about racism and sexism?

Or how about a board/staff planning retreat that I facilitated. Participants talked about valuing diversity. I asked what they meant. They responded, “things like race and gender.” I responded that the board was composed of all white men – about the same age. The board member participants responded: “But it’s so hard to find competent women and people of color.”

To be NOT about racism, sexism, or homophobia … we actually have to be so aware of those things that we proactively seek to avoid them. There is no such thing as blind justice. We have to see in order to remove injustice.


Filed under: Social Commentary

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