Nothing To Be Afraid Of

I became much more comfortable with public speaking when I realized that the audience was rooting for me.

Think about it. Someone stands up to address a group. It may be professional conference or a Rotary Club or a high school graduation. The people in the audience take a deep breath and say to themselves, “I sure hope this speaker is decent. Funny. Interesting. Worth my time!” They want the presenter to be good, because the alternative is too painful. They dread the dull and nervous speaker. Continue reading

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The Few

You may have seen this recent video on wealth inequality. It graphically shows how 40% of the nation’s financial assets are now owned by only 1% of the population. By contrast, the 80% of Americans with the least wealth control only 7% of the assets. Or, to put it another way, the wealthiest 3 million people in this country own nearly six times more wealth than the poorest 240 million.

There are many reasons to find this trend disturbing. This is a huge issue for our nation, economically, politically, philosophically, and morally. But here’s today’s question: How does the growing wealth disparity in the United States affect nonprofits? Continue reading

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Vanity Charity

Back in the 1930s, a series of movies starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland popularized the notion that you could solve big problems… by putting on a show. The orphanage is in trouble? No problem! Let’s fix up this old barn, kids! We can build a stage and start singing and dancing! People will flock in, money will magically appear, and the orphanage will survive!Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland

It was a good formula for a successful movie franchise, and the plays in the barn were always magnificent productions. (It helped when two of the kids in the neighborhood always happened to be Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland.) But even in 1930s Hollywood, where fantasy ruled, the writers had the good sense to structure these kid-run performances as what we in the nonprofit world would now call special events, raising funds for an established charity. Mickey and Judy were putting on a play to benefit the orphanage. They didn’t have the temerity to think they could start an orphanage of their own.

Today there seem to be a lot of folks who think otherwise. Continue reading

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