October 1, 2018

Management. Government. Society. Community. LIFE!!!

Some favorite YouTube videos.

I use them in my classes at SMUMN – where I teach in the masters program in Philanthropy and Development.

If I were on staff at an institution (instead of being a consultant) – I’d insist all staff watch these together….And then talk.

HEY! What a great way to start a board meeting…periodically watching something like this and talking about the implications for your clients, your donors, your organization, the community, and on and on and on…

EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE MARVELOUS VIDEOS is about the work that you and I do. The work that pretty much any human being does.

EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE INSIGHTFUL VIDEOS is about life…your life and mine, and the beneficiaries of our work and the volunteers helping in our organizations, serving on boards.



Watch these. Share these. Explore the implications. Learn. Make change. Do and be better.


Ahmen, “Batman of Social Impact.” Nonprofit leader by day and hip-hop artist by night. His marvelous opening for IFC 2017. I was there. I took the knee with my hand in a fist.[ https://twitter.com/TheResAlliance?lang=en]

#likeagirl “What does it mean to do something like a girl.” [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs]

Ash Beckham: We’re all hiding something – coming out of the closet. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSR4xuU07sc]

Brené Brown and vulnerability. [https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability]

“What is Privilege?” The privilege walk is one of the most insightful, saddening things I’ve ever seen or experienced. Better than watching it, you can actually do it. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hD5f8GuNuGQ]


April 6, 2016

Check out these good reads

Thanks, as always, to the Nonprofit Quarterly. I hope you subscribe. You really can’t afford to miss the daily online feed and quarterly print publication.

Have your board members read an interesting article — and then talk about the implications and the strategic questions for your organization. Do this regularly! And with your staff, too.

Check out this article – also good for a conversation.

Filed under: Resources / Research

April 5, 2016

Good stuff from AFP International Boston

I like conferences when I learn something new. Or get a new idea about how to apply and express something old. Or reinforce an angle or an approach. So here’s some stuff I liked a lot at the AFP International Conference in Boston, March 19 – 21…All in the Rebels, Renegades, and Pioneers Track.

Leadership by Marcia Coné [Making change easier]

  • Seeing from 30,000 feet, then deploying on the ground. Leaders have both perspectives.
  • Normative behavior is safe and secure. Change is: Turbulence (rocking the board). Inviting controversy. Forcing discomfort. Causing difficulty. Upsetting people. Causing a problem.
  • Research says that change makers have these 5 qualities: Persistence. Biased to take action. Transparent. Optimistic. Adaptability.
  • Visit Marcia’s website. Attend her workshops. Read her stuff. Great info. Great presenter.

Why business won’t change the world [Michael Edwards]

  • Read Mike’s marvelous book, Small Change – Why Business Won’t Save the World. 
  • 3 sectors: Government. Business/for-profit. Nonprofit (also called civil society). They are different! And the differences matter. Today’s blurring of lines are rather troublesome.
  • Business (the marketplace) satisfies wants and needs at a price.
  • Civil society (the nonprofit or NGO sector) provides entitlements without price. The strength and impact of the nonprofit sector may actually be diminishing. See Mike on YouTube.

Raising money for justice [Roger Craver, Jennie Thompson, Daryl Upsall]

  • Solidarity. Movement. Activism. Fighting for justice. Roger, Jennie, and Daryl have worked in social justice and movements for years and years. Oh the stories they told!
  • All movements begin with a small group of people seeing something wrong. Grassroots organizing then morphs into organizations. And then the long march into the political arena. Citizens > Political > Mainstream
  • Threats: Intimidation by government and special interests.

Gender equity…diversity…dominant and non-dominant groups [Laura Liswood]

  • We need to have enough people involved to make change. Just one “different” person doesn’t work.
  • The dominant group’s performance is improved by the non-dominant group. Heterogenous groups are great! To make change in any organization requires much more than diversity. Read Laura’s book The Loudest Duck.
  • What do you think women leaders – of nations – are talking about? Check out Laura’s book.
  • Check Laura’s presentations on YouTube.
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 26, 2015

Read these. Pass them on. Talk about both with your colleagues.

Let’s kick some butt!

Ah, the millennials. And the Ice Bucket Challenge. And that new contemporary look. Old donors versus young donors… Let’s talk some more! (Oh please don’t. READ THIS!!  Make sure you read the imbedded article, too. 

How’s that equity thing going in your organization? Do you talk about equity in your NGO? I don’t mean lobbying for equity in the outside world. I mean equity…inside your organization. Because that’s where we can all start. READ THIS!

December 8, 2014

Your nightmare lives! Bad board members and what to do…

Do you dream about some bad board members?
Do you feel a flush of anger when you’re calling one more time to see if those board members did what they said they’d do?
Do you wish your governance committee would talk gracefully confront the bad performers?
So here’s the bad news: Look in the mirror first. The problem may be your leadership.
And here’s the good news: You can help fix this. Read my book Firing Lousy Board Members – And Helping the Others Succeed.
Read my book. Share it with your boss. Share it with your governance committee. Read it on the beach. Make it your New Year’s Resolution. It’s short. It’s a fast read (maybe 1 hour?!) It actually makes you laugh. And frown. And cheer!
Maybe your bad board members aren’t intentionally bad. Maybe they just don’t know what the job is. Maybe they don’t realize there is a difference between the board (the group that does governance) and the individual board member (that does the right stuff outside of board meetings).
  • Does your organization have a board-adopted policy that defines the role of the board and the performance expectations of board members?
  • Does your organization use a top-notch recruitment, screening, and evaluation process for board members?
  • And… Do you know enough to enable all this to happen?
  • Visit the Free Download Library on my website for samples.
On the other hand… Oh dear… Maybe you have a bad board member who is, actually, intentionally bad. The board member just doesn’t care what the expectations are. The board member is disruptive and doesn’t play well with others.
It’s a tough life. We all encounter people like this. So every organization needs a process to fire lousy board members.
Yes, there is a process. Yes, your organization can do this if it chooses to do so.
And you can help guide the process by knowing how to do it…and what to watch out for…
  • Start a conversation with your boss about the effectiveness of your organization’s board – and the importance of the board (and board member) effectiveness.
  • If you’re the boss, get your thoughts together and talk with the governance committee.
  • Adopt the board job description.
  • Adopt the performance expectations of board members.

Read my book Firing Lousy Board Members – And Helping the Others Succeed.  Share this short, easy-to-read guide with your governance committee.

Let’s get it together. Lousy board members harm good organizations. Lousy board members make good board members leave. And none of this helps those you serve.
November 25, 2014

Interesting – even important – resources

A resource blog, colleagues. So much interesting stuff comes across my desk (and floor… stacks on the floor…the clutter makes me anxious…)

Happy reading. Remember…It’s our job to actually read stuff. Examine the implications and applications for our work, our institutions, our communities.

June 26, 2014

Favorite quotations: relationships

I’ve told you before: I collect quotations … and have since I was a teenager. Notebooks full. And from various sources …. romance novels, spy and police action, science fiction fantasy, serious literature, business books, etc.

I use quotes to inspire myself. To include in articles and start chapters in books. I use quotes in my workshop handouts.

So here are some favorite quotations about relationships and relationship building. Maybe you’ll find a use for them – even if it’s “just” inspiration!

“Relationship fundraising is an approach to the marketing of a cause which centres not around raising money but on developing to its full potential the unique and special relationship that exists between a charity and its supporter. Whatever strategies and techniques are employed to boost funds, the overriding consideration in relationship fundraising is to care for and develop that special bond…” [Relationship Fundraising: A Donor-Based Approach to the Business of Raising Money, 1992]

Sir Denys Lasdun, English architect said, “The architect’s job is to give a client not what he wants but what he never dreamed that he wanted; and when he gets it, he recognizes it as something he wanted all the time.” Just substitute “fundraising” for “architect.”

“You’ll have more fun and success when you stop trying to get what you want and start helping other people get what they want.” [Dale Carnegie, 1930s American self-help guru, How to Win Friends and Influence People]

“Everything is a tale. What we believe, what we know. What we remember, even what we dream. Everything is a story, a narrative, a sequence of events with characters communicating emotional content. We only accept as true what can be narrated.” [Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Angel’s Game]”

February 18, 2014


I figure we all know the power of words. Certainly fundraisers do! (Or should…)

But are we always mindful of the words we use?

Do we think before we speak, worrying that someone might overhear and misinterpret – or be offended?Do we ever consider that our behavior might start reflecting our vocabulary?

Phrases like “low-hanging fruit” or “hit up that donor” or?

Tony Elischer, U.K. colleague, wrote an interesting article called “The New Lexicon of Fundraising, 2014 and Beyond…”

It’s well worth a read. Makes you think. (And Think Consulting Solutions is the name of Tony’s firm.)

By the way, this is a good paper to share with your development colleagues and your boss and board. Engage people in conversation. That’s how learning happens. And learning produces change.

December 11, 2013

Resources: Things to share with your board members – and boss, too

I couldn’t resist an extra blog this week – with resources. Yes, indeed.

Check out Seth Godin’s BRILLIANT blog about email and permission marketing. While you’re at it, read Seth’s book Permission Marketing. And just stop these e-mail blasts right now – until you can get it together well.

And speaking of Seth, read his blog of 11-29-13. Read this to your boss and board! It’s all about stories. And not your organization’s stories…the donor’s stories.

I’m late to the party, but have you seen the MARVELOUS info graphic “The Rise of the Nonprofit Sector,” developed by the Master of Public Administration at the University of San Francisco? Oh my heavens. You’ll also find this info graphic at Bloomerang, which I hope you’re checking out, too.

Listen to my interview at the AFP Toronto Congress, November 2013. I’m talking about donors and loyalty and fundraising. Maybe your boss and board should listen to this? You can also see this video on my website.

Have you been visiting SOFII? The best of the best…examples from all over the world. New stuff includes Oxfam Canada’s outreach to donors. Pamela Grow’s 12 days of Christmas. The latest list of fundraising must-reads. Visit my reading room about boards and governance. How about top tips from leading fundraisers? Maybe a nice way to end the year and start the new one.

So that’s it. Enough resources. Enjoy. Learn. Share.

Filed under: Resources / Research

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