Missing Pieces

There’s a memorable scene in the 1981 movie “Reds.” It’s 1917. Warren Beatty, playing radical journalist John Reed, asks Diane Keaton, playing Louise Bryant, to accompany him on a trip to revolutionary Russia. She looks at him, pauses, and asks, “What as, Jack?” That is, as an assistant, or as a fellow journalist, or as a revolutionary, or as a girlfriend, or as a wife? “What as, Jack?”

That scene comes to mind when CEOs of small nonprofits tell me that they’re planning on hiring their first development director. Continue reading

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Numbers Game

Imagine you are a manufacturer of widgets. You have a sizable factory and a loyal customer base. Your business is growing steadily and you’re making money.

One day your best customer says, “I love your product, and you’ve treated us well, and your price has been reasonable. But I’m leaving you, because I see from your annual report that you’re doing very well. Your profits are healthy – too healthy. So I’m going to start buying my widgets from a company that’s barely breaking even. And I’ll do that even if that company’s product isn’t as good as yours, and even if it costs me more. I mean, I’ve been buying from you for several years now. Time to move on! Sorry!”

As bizarre as that seems, something like that happens all the time with nonprofits and their funders. Continue reading

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