Why you need to care about white male privilege

You (and I don’t care who you are) should read this beautiful and challenging essay by Syreeta McFadden: Teaching the Camera to See My Skin.

If you have caucasian flavored skin, it has likely never crossed your mind that there are engineering challenges inherent in capturing light bouncing off everything in our complex world and transferring it to paper so that our eyes can recognize the image, unless you’re a fairly advanced photographer.  And even if you are one of these photographers, you probably have not thought about the problems created by manufacturers of film as they made choices – theoretically innocuous tradeoffs – in pursuit of marketshare and profits.

It’s real.  And it matters.  Read more

Quick Tips: Good content deserves good delivery

I had the pleasure of stumbling across a nice take on creativity from Mr. Preston Trombley, a musician and artist and Toastmaster.  His 7 minutes on Beethoven, Einstein and You is a great Monday morning pick me up.

So why am I linking and not embedding?  Well, the video quality is unfortunate.  Shaky cam, shot vertically, and while Mr. Trombley uses the room effectively, the videographer hasn’t really planned for that, so there’s a lot of quick pans to keep him in frame.  It’s bad enough that I feel it needs a warning (it may make you nauseated; feel free to just listen to it instead of watching), and also a disclaimer – that I know it’s terrible production quality, but I think the content is worth a listen anyway.

Two things to take from this: first, you have it in you to be a more creative person…but also – be sure that you’re not obscuring whatever messages you have for the world by not taking the time to master the basics of new technologies as they whiz by us.   Read more

On the internet, carry salt

I subscribe to a ton of services that help me scour the internet, looking for good articles, tips, research and advice on fundraising and nonprofit management more generally.  Look – I’m living proof that anyone can say pretty much anything on the internet…but every now and then an article comes along that gets my blood boiling and I feel the need to remind everyone I know that you have to take everything with a grain of salt and read it through a lens of common sense and skepticism.

Here’s one that seems useful for nonprofits.  Research reveals four simple ways your not-for-profit can motivate donors. Headline follows the formula for standard click bait: [number] of [things] that are useful because [x].  Plus, it’s based on research!  Great.  Let’s look. Read more

Developing an inner management team

I have a strange personal relationship with McKinsey…in many respects, I think they’re amazing.  I trace a good deal of my better consulting traits (partially the way I structure analysis, partially the way I present myself) to working with a ton of McKinsey “alumni” early in my career.  If I were ever to work for a gigantic consulting company, I’d do my best to get in with them.

Of course, on the other hand, I decided not to work for any of the big consulting companies, and there are good reasons for that.  Perhaps a story for another day…this preamble is all to say that I pay attention to the “Insights & Publications” section of the McKinsey site, and you should check out this article from the March McKinsey Quarterly by Nate Boaz and Erica Ariel Fox. Read more

Training for Fundraisers: what do you need?

There’s an interesting question that’s been posed to CEOs and EDs of nonprofits who participate in the LinkedIn group sponsored by Bridgespan: “What training do you offer your fundraisers to make them more effective at the sales side of the nonprofit world?”

Check out some of the responses here.

I’m interested in the general question of what training you offer fundraisers, period.  Sure, there are the formal educational programs, certificates and degree programs alike, offered at credible institutions…and I imagine that there is or will soon be a cottage industry aimed at test prep for the Certified Fundraising Executive exam.  I’m going to ignore those for the moment – I’m asking more about how organizations train their own fundraisers.

What training do fundraisers need?  What do you want your fundraisers to know?

Here’s my official call for comments and/or private emails with thoughts.  In return, I will, during this calendar year, develop at least one curriculum for use (FREE!) in house, wherever you are…


Plus ça change

I hope you’re reading and paying attention to the thoughts of Lucy Bernholz, a fine scholar and thinker about philanthropy in the modern age.

Her blog post from February is something I’ve been meaning to write about for a while, and the Jewish holiday of Passover seemed like a great time to do it.  Her post title (and thesis) is this: Disruptive wealth hasn’t yet disrupted philanthropic forms.

She’s right.  But what does that mean for the practitioner? Read more

Trust meditations

There’s this video, making the rounds on social media.  I love it for two reasons: first, I love watching slow motion acrobatics with beautiful people. Second, I kind of dig the new age calm of the narration, entreating me to learn to trust.

Take 3 minutes of your day and enjoy the eye candy and relax.  Then, when it’s over, go ahead and shake it off, smile to yourself, and say “Hooey!  This is hooey!” Read more

Quick Tips: Development Impact Toolkit

I love passing on interesting tools I come across online in the course of my paying work.  The latest is a website called Development Impact & You (DIY).  Their tagline is “practical tools to trigger and support social innovation.”

I’m not so sure that all of their forms are easy to simply download and use effectively, but there’s a clean structure to everything they’ve put up so far – for anyone looking to provoke important conversations about organizational effectiveness or internal processes, using these can make you look polished and authoritative.  As far as how useful they are, well, they’re tools.  You’re going to have to wield them well if you want them to work for you.

Start here, on their Tools page.  Enjoy!

New volley in the apology wars

I’ve written before about apologies.  Women do it too much, and it makes the social conduct code all murky because people then have gendered expectations for apologies AND falsely imbue those excessive apologies with all sorts of (mostly subconscious) baggage.  Bleah.  (Or, if you prefer, as my spellcheck seems to, BLERG.)

There’s some new research that would be interesting if it weren’t so poorly designed…but it’s fodder for a good rant, so here goes:

Out of the esteemed minds of researchers at Harvard Business School and Wharton, is a series of studies that they say points to this: when you apologize for things outside your control, you are seen as more trustworthy. Read more