From Upcoming Events, Speaking and Training

Social entrepreneurs or social movements?

All the buzz about social entrepreneurship has lead to the belief that some individual or technological wizardry will somehow end poverty and other social injustices.

Bullet holes from 223 ammo fired at strking workers

On this Labor Day, I’d like to honor our parents, grandparents and great grandparents  – the ordinary people who organized for the right to have some control over their working conditions, to be paid a livable wage and to carry a union card.

I just left a Labor Day commemoration that once again reminded me that thousands of ordinary people do courageous things each day to make the world a better place  — putting their jobs, and even their lives, on the line. Whether they work to advance civil rights, labor rights, human rights, women’s rights, the rights of minorities, they understand that it takes many actions by many people in solidarity over many years to stand up to the forces of greed and terror that are too successful in keeping others in misery.

There are no magic bullets or killer apps in our movement to social justice. Just every day, everyone who cares making intentional decisions to share, and to act in brother and sisterhood with the least fortunate among us. And to join together in nonviolence, as it is only through those actions that we can find the power and courage to win against the greatest forces of tyranny.

Scott Molly, Professor of Labor History, University of Rhode Island

Do you have a collaboration story? We’d love to share it.

Have a tale of a joint venture or collaboration that has strengthened your operating capacity? We’d love to share details of that story through our blog.

Every day we are hearing more and more stories about the growing numbers of nonprofit organizations that are working together to improve their organizational capacity. We’re learning about many innovative or even routine activities that can have a big impact.

We’ve shared two examples already — the shared administrative capacity of the Chattanooga Museums Collaboration and the merger between two CDCs that created CommunityWorks Rhode Island.

We are extremely interested in hearing your stories of nonprofit incubators, employee lease backs, sub affiliates, shared back office support, group purchasing, or whatever models you’ve developed. We think that the number of published case studies don’t reflect the diversity and number of interesting collaborations happening in this sector. We think that the lack of a great recipe book — what it is, how it came about, the mechanics of the arrangement, what makes it successful, direct and indirect benefits — is one of the barriers standing in the way of more nonprofits experimenting with new ways of operating.

We are happy to share your stories on this blog.  Send your story along to us at Send us your phone number so we can connect if we have additional questions.

Thank you.

Words to describe the spirit of a great board

In just a few minutes, the 40+ board members, executive directors and staff who attended shared these words. Together, they described the perfect board experience.
Purpose. Vision. Wisdom. Humor. Joy. Passion. Shared Values. Dedication. Generosity. Insight. Productive. Patience. Flexibility. Common Ground. Perseverance. Investment. Struggle. Eye-opening. Community-building. Caring. Deep Caring. Collaboration. Diversity. Gratitude. Leadership. Creative. Integrity. Teamwork. Unity. Heaven. Rewarding. Brainstorming. Listening. Support. Respect. Commitment. Interactive. Different. Communication.

Read more

Celebrating Spring

I love spring in New England! What a glorious day today has turned into.

I just walked home from a meeting with a prospective client. However that goes, I couldn’t help but smile the whole way back. The sun was shining brightly at 5:30 pm, the air was warm, the tulips were still blooming, as are the dogwoods, wisteria, and lilacs. The birds are singing up a storm. Bees are buzzing. Mother Nature has done it again.

It’s too easy in this work to get focused solely on the great need and all that is wrong with the world. It’s easy to forget to take the time to appreciate all that is beautiful around us.

So take a moment and enjoy the natural pleasures of your neighborhood, wherever you may be. Praise Spring, glorious Spring.

“He made me do it” didn’t make it by my Mom, so why should it excuse the US goverment

Principle IV of the Nuremberg Principles states”The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”

So while I understand completely why our President would like to avoid right now the whole messy situation of the torture of prisoners during the Bush administration, unfortunately, his reasoning doesn’t fly with me. If the administration believes this is torture, then they are obligated under international law to investigate and hold the perpetrators accountable if found guilty.

According to Amnesty International (one of the best organizations out there– all you funders measuring results pay attention). “the U.S. government is required by international law to respect and ensure human rights, to thoroughly investigate every violation of those rights, and to bring perpetrators to justice, no matter their level of office or former level of office.”

I expect the boards and staff of nonprofit organizations to know when they are doing something wrong and unethical or immoral. I expect more of my government.

Please sign one of the petitions urging your congressional representatives to create a non-partisan, independent commission to investigate the use of torture by US intelligence agents and their superiors. You’ll find the one from AIUSA here. What has been disclosed is still only a tiny portion of what may have happened.

You don’t get to say “he made me do it” when you know that the act is wrong. My mom wouldn’t let me get away with that and neither should our President let employees of the US government do the same.

And I’m sorry, but no one can convince me that the interrogation techniques which have been sited in the memos released are not torture. And torture is never acceptable.

If we don’t hold the moral high ground internationally, what do we have left as a country? As I tell my clients, there is nothing more valuable to your organization than your good name. That goes for the USA as well.

Helpful Twitter tips

Heather Mansfield shared her 10 Twitter Tips for Nonprofits on her blog at yesterday. Perfect timing as my class at Simmons College was sharing their ideas with Toni Troop of Jane Doe Inc. who spoke to the class Monday night. (Thank you Toni! It’s great to learn from a real media pro and hear your experiences)

Toni and my students would have strongly agreed with Heather’s tip #5: “Don’t tweat about your coffee, the weather, or how tired you are. Provide value to your followers, not chit chat.”

With hundreds of tweats to check, who has time to hear the minutia of any one other than their very close friends. (That’s what I use FaceBook for… to appreciate everything from the mundane to the existential and wry wit of my closer friends.)

I’ve personally been experimenting with Twitter for a few months now so that I can be informed and helpful to the organizations I work with. I try to log onto Twitter at least  once or twice a week (sorry, just can’t Read more

The unsung philanthropists

In yesterday’s column, Washington Post personal finance columnist Michelle Singletary shared heartwarming examples of ordinary people “sharing their abundance” with friends and neighbors in need.

I’ve always felt that it was unfortunate that the measures of giving have no way to track philanthropy in its essence, the love of human kind.

Reading Michelle’s column reminded me that we need to honor these daily acts of altruism that occur all around us… from the neighbor who gladly shares a few eggs to the vacation rental landlord we met one year who volunteered by driving cancer patients four or five hours each way from rural Maine to Boston for treatment.

Thank you.