Do More

[This article was co-published on October 4, 2017, by the Maine Association of Nonprofits] When I was a 27-year-old, freshly promoted, and utterly under-qualified executive director (back in 1985 we didn’t think to call ourselves “CEO” or “President”), I met with a...

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Peak bagging

As someone who likes to be taken seriously, I probably shouldn’t begin this post by publishing such a goofy picture of myself. But here I go, happily sharing this photo, as a way of illustrating a point about goal-setting. This picture was taken on July 2nd atop Mt....

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Incomplete Pass

It’s reasonable to think that when you make a donation to a particular charitable organization, the funds will be used in a way that supports that organization’s mission. But as a recent Boston Globe article by Bob Hohler explains, that’s not how it always works,...

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Strange Math

[A version of this piece appeared in the Chronicle of Philanthropy on July 13, 2017.] Here’s the world’s simplest math problem. My wife Pat and I often meet a pair of friends for a movie. If there’s a risk that the show will sell out, I run over to the theater ahead...

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No Sale

Contributing to charity is a unique transaction in our society: people give money and receive nothing tangible in return. I think of this when individuals who have spent their careers in the for-profit world draw comparisons between the business and nonprofit realms....

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Collateral Damage

People keep asking me: How is the current political upheaval going to affect nonprofits? My first answer: I don’t really know. We’re in unprecedented political times. Who really can predict what will happen? My second answer: That said, indications are that the next...

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Sidewalks, Snow, and Democracy

You can learn a lot about people and communities by how they clear their sidewalks. And I think there may be a lesson in there for those of us trying to understand the political strife that’s tearing apart the nation. I should pause to explain for readers who live in...

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Navigating the Evaluators

I recently gave a keynote address for a conference of nonprofit leaders in Oregon. At one point, I asked people to raise their hands if they thought that the evaluation methodology of Charity Navigator, the country’s most popular nonprofit rating system, had validity....

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Giving, When You Have a Lot to Give

[Note: A version of this post appeared in Philanthropy Daily on February 8, 2018.] The rich have always played a leading role in charitable giving. Now their role is getting larger. In fact, soon the middle class may not even have a speaking part. The growing...

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