Never Can Say Good-bye

There’s an old proverb that it takes one person to throw a stone in a well, but ten to get it out.

I think the nonprofit equivalent is that it’s vastly easier to start a program than to end it.

Here’s what I mean. Let’s imagine a small community-based social services organization. It was founded twenty years ago to provide services for families with teen mothers. The agency focused in the early days on home visits and other support services by social workers and volunteers, designed to help ensure the babies’ safe and healthy development.

The organization gained a reputation for effectiveness, and soon there was encouragement from families, local government, and donors to create a childcare center for these and similar kids. So the organization built the childcare center and later expanded it. It became a well-respected and important community institution.

So far, so good. Then things got tricky. Continue reading

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Fidelity Charitable Reveals Its Arrogance, But Not Its Salaries

[Note: This post was published in the December 1, 2015 on-line edition of  The Chronicle of Philanthropy.]

It’s common knowledge that transparency rules the day for disclosure of the salaries paid to nonprofit executives.

Tax-exempt organizations can’t hide their top compensation numbers: Salary and benefit information for the most-highly-compensated executives is only a few mouse clicks away, displayed for all to see in the 990 informational tax returns available from Guidestar and other sources. This disclosure reflects the Congressional requirement that in return for tax-exempt status, nonprofits must make their informational returns — including top salaries — available for public inspection.

But one salary you won’t find listed is that of Amy Danforth, chief executive of Fidelity Charitable. Continue reading

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