November 25, 2018


WOW. I’m listening to Ben Phillips speak at the UN.

The concluding panel of the UN Conference on Overcoming Inequalities, November 2018.

Only 9 minutes long. Listen. Please listen. Reflect. Please please reflect.

We have so much work to do and we’re just not yet doing it well enough.

Filed under: Leadership

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.[]

#likeagirl “What does it mean to do something like a girl.” []

Ash Beckham: We’re all hiding something – coming out of the closet. []

Brené Brown and 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. []


June 11, 2018

One of my favorite “business” books

I believe that conversation is a core business practice. And conversation is different than discussion. Very different!

Theodore Zeldin wrote the most beautiful book about conversation: Conversation – How Talk Can Change Our Lives.

Here are some of my favorite Zeldin statements…direct quotations from his lovely book.

  1. Conversation is a meeting of minds with different memories and habits. When minds meet, they don’t just exchange facts: they transform them, reshape them, draw different implications from them, engage in new trains of thought. Conversation doesn’t just reshuffle the cards; it creates new cards.
  2. Having one’s ideas challenged and transmuted by verbal intercourse makes one aware how much one owes to others, how much a partner can contribute to one’s intellectual, moral and emotional development, thought one remains a separate, unique person.
  3. Conversation, like families, dies when it is inbred. Or when your guests have had more or less the same experience as yourself.
  4. Conversation has to explore new territory to become an adventure.
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

September 17, 2016

Thank you Garrison Keilor

Read this amazing piece from Garrison Keilor, in the Washington Post.  My friend Rory Green forwarded this to me. Knowing how angry I would be. Knowing how this would resonate with me. How sad I would be. How sad I am.

Read this. Think about this. Ask yourself about Hillary. Ask yourself about women you don’t know. Ask yourself about the women you do know. And look in the mirror. Only then can you think about Hillary.

Thank you, Mr. Keilor for this marvelous piece. Thank you for seeing and knowing.

“I saw Hillary once working a rope line for more than an hour, a Secret Service man holding her firmly by the hips as she leaned over the rope and reached intothe mass of arms and hands reaching out to her …. Read the rest.

“So it’s no surprise she pushed herself to the point of collapse the other day. What’s odd is the perspective, expressed in several stories…. Read the whole story.

“I’ve never gone fishing with her, which is how you really get to know someone, but I did sit next to her at dinner once…. I was impressed by her smarts, even more by her discipline.

“I don’t have that discipline. Most people don’t…. Read the rest. It’s sooooooo good.

“The woman who does not conceal her own intelligence is a fine American tradition…but none has been subjected to the steady hectoring that Mrs. Clinton has. ….Keilor reminds us to wake up and behave.

“Extremism has poked its head into the mainstream, aided by the Internet….Keep reading!

“Someday historians will get this right and look back at the steady pitter-pat of scandals that turned out to be nothing, nada….READ THIS piece all the way through. And share it.

Thank you Mr. Keilor. This is a keeper. Forever. Thank you. 

Filed under: Social Commentary

March 10, 2016

Making you afraid

One of my favorite movies is The American President with Michael Douglas, Annette Bening, Michael J. Fox, and Martin Sheen. (And Martin Sheen then moved on to The West Wing. My most favorite television show ever. I would get confused about reality and The West Wing. I’d talk with friends as if what was happening in The West Wing was actually happening in the other West Wing.

Anyway, back to The American President. President Andrew Shepherd makes the most marvelously exceptionally swell speech about problems and solutions and fear and blame. I wish someone would recite this speech in the U.S. Congress right now. Maybe President Obama could channel President Shepherd. (President Shepherd even talked about gun control. And 20 years after that movie, this country allows the shooting of kids on college campuses, in downtown streets, in elementary schools, in homes…)

But I digress………

The point of this blog was Andy Shepherd’s statement: “Making you afraid. And telling you who to blame.” There’s a problem. People who talk about the problem (so many elected officials – and presidential candidates) arouse fear. Intentionally. And then tell us who to blame.

Let me say that again: Making you afraid of “it.” And telling you who to blame.

Do you play that game? Do you make others afraid and tell them who to blame? Does your organization? Do your elected officials do that? Does your government do that?

Maybe we need different elected officials. Maybe we need to radically change our governments and the people therein. Maybe we need to take a deep breath and stop the fear-mongering and the hate speech and blame game.

I want Jed Bartlett and Andrew Shepherd as president. Well, actually, I want Hillary Clinton.

By the way:  Wikipedia tells me that The American President is #75 on the American Film Institute‘s list of America’s Greatest Love Stories. Some of the other films on the list are: Casablanca (#1). Gone with the Wind (#2). West Side Story (#3). An Affair to Remember (#5). Pretty Woman (#21). When Harry Met Sally (#25.) An Officer and a Gentleman (#29). Titanic (#37). A Star is Born (#43). The English Patient (#56). Coming Home (#78). The Princess Bridge (#88). Dirty Dancing (#93). To name just a few! And I really enjoyed all of these.

P.S. And for those who don’t know, Aaron Sorkin wrote The American President and The West Wing. And the Newsroom, too. I wish that were still on.

Filed under: Social Commentary

February 10, 2016

A sad sad truth

“Bigotry and national security have, sadly, close and old ties in American history.” So says the first line in the January 4, 2016 editorial in The Nation magazine.

Yet, in my experience, U.S. people and our government don’t recognize and acknowledge our unpleasant history. Things like:

• “National-security concerns mixed with anti-Semitism delayed our acceptance of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi German.”

• “Racism combined with panic after Pear Harbor led to the internment of more than 110,000 Japanese Americans.”

• “Over the past decade, we’ve wrenched at least 2 million people from their families with a record-setting pace of deportation.”

• We’ve allowed people to die in the desert rather than allow them to cross the border. National security? Really? How about racism.

• Donald Trump plans to build tall walls and ban Muslims from entering the U.S., and “11 of the 13 GOP president candidates oppose allowing any Syrian refugees into the country at all.”

Here’s another rather terrifying (dare I say embarrassing) fact: According to research, “more Americans have been killed in domestic terrorist attacks by right-wing zealots than by jihadists since 9/11.”

Yet we won’t launch a much-needed war on guns. No other “civilized” nation has the gun violence we have. I think I might blog about what civilization means to me. Hmmm….

Our behavior reminds me of facism.  We make fun of Marie Antoinette saying to the poor clamoring for bread to feed their starving children, “Let them eat cake.”

Our U.S. Supreme Court allows the Koch brothers and their pals to invest more money than either the Republican or Democratic Parties to shape elections. My voice and yours just don’t count as much.

And on and on and on….. But I must curtail my anger today. I have work to do.

[All quotes — except “civilized” and Marie Antoinette – are from “A War on Guns,” The Nation, January 4, 2016.]

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

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