Tag Archives: special events

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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Budget Resolution

It happens all the time. A private-sector businessperson takes over as board treasurer and meets with the nonprofit staff to go over the new budget. In that meeting, the new treasurer finds that nonprofit accounting is a wee bit different from the for-profit world.

Treasurer: “So you’re projecting $270,000 in foundation and corporate grants. How confident are you about that number?”

Staff: “Well, you never know.”

Treasurer: “You never know what?”

Staff: “You just never know. We may get it all. We may get half of it.”

Treasurer: “And if we only get half of it?”

Staff: “We’ll have to improvise. Or hope something comes in over the transom. It usually does. That’s the only way we balanced the budget this year.” Continue reading

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Accretion Happens

So why does your organization hold a charity golf tournament? Probably because it’s something you’ve always done.

My guess is that if you looked into it, you’d find that fifteen years ago you had a board member – now long passed from the scene – who loved to golf, and who saw a golf tournament as a way to get his friends connected to the organization. You’ve been doing the tournament ever since.

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Small Potatoes

Back in the Soviet Union, you had to stand in three lines to buy potatoes.

I know: I stood in those lines. I spent a semester in 1980 as an exchange student in what was then Leningrad (since rechristened St. Petersburg). I have a lot of memories from those days, none clearer than how people bought their vegetables. Continue reading

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