Tag Archives: Thomas A. McLaughlin

Foundering

“So what’s your boss like?” I asked a friend, who had recently taken a position at a nonprofit.

“Well, you know. He’s a founder.”

My friend then listed the adjectives describing his boss: “Creative. Dynamic. Charismatic. Visionary. Brilliant. Funny. Inspiring.” Also, “Meddling. Obstinate. Egotistical. Defensive. Controlling. Annoying. Demanding. Distracted.”

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The Guy on the Fifty Dollar Bill

Ulysses S. Grant had greatness in spades.

He was the victorious general in the Civil War – and perhaps the greatest military leader in American history. He was a popular two-term president during tumultuous times, and a generally effective and successful political leader. He was an outspoken and admirable defender of the civil rights of African Americans and American Indians – almost startlingly so, given the times. (He created the Department of Justice specifically to enforce the 14th and 15th Amendments guaranteeing the civil and voting rights of the freed slaves.)

Grant was the author of what is generally considered the best-written memoir by any president in history, composed heroically as he was dying of cancer. And when he died, the country and particularly New York City ground to a halt to honor the fallen hero as his body was buried at the site of the soon-to-be-built Grant’s Tomb. The widespread reverence with which he was held can be shown by the fact that two of his pall bearers were former Confederate generals.

But Grant was not great at everything. Continue reading

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Why Mergers Make Sense… On Occasion

With funding cuts and rising demand for services, nonprofits are in a bind. One reaction – which sometimes makes sense, but often doesn’t – is to consider merging with another organization. After all, if the combined organizations paid only one CEO instead of two, and one CFO instead of two, and if they merged their back shop operations, there would presumably be efficiencies.

Funders love encouraging mergers, partly to improve these efficiencies, partly to avoid confusion in the community about who is providing which service, partly to cull the weaker nonprofits, and partly, I assume, so they have fewer potential grantees to choose between. And grantees, at the very least, have to pay lip service to what their funders are saying. But do nonprofit mergers really make sense? It depends. Continue reading

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