Posts vs. Pages

You may be surprised to see that an assignment that you published earlier as a post has disappeared. I have moved several of these to Pages where the assignments belonged. I may not have yet added the link under the appropriate headings (nonprofits, nonprofit professionals, board members, and volunteers). If you look in the dashboard under Pages –> All you should see your assignment where I relocated it. Marjorie McLellan

Network Mindset in Non-Profit Management – Beth Kanter

Beth started the podcast by getting the audience participating with some questions on how they use social media and their non-profit. The tools she named were Pintrest, Instagram, Radiant 6, YouTube, Google Alerts, blogs, Facebook and Twitter. As she continued with her talk she mentioned one item that struck to me, especially for a small non-profit with very little volunteers. Her statement was “Do one channel well!” I thought that hit home because if you are strapped for personnel, you can’t do it all and be great at it.

As she continued, Beth mentioned that disruption is a our friend. What she meant by that was it gives every organization opportunity to improve on their current social media exposure. She went on to say that social media helps to keep your members in the know. Beth continued to discuss something I just mentioned is that challenges generally present opportunities. For example, if an organization is using mass mailings for media releases and they realize that the ROI on it declines, because of the demographics of their donors/members have shifted, it gives them the opportunity to shift over to what is working now such as social media.

Towards the end of the podcast Beth had a brief mention about social media police. Then she went on to discuss being “data informed”, which meant how are you going to convey what you are doing to your audience that you want to reach and is it impactful to them.

Overall it was a very informative session and I had quit a few opportunities I took from it.


Brotherhood Sister Sol Website story telling

The Brotherhood Sister Sol

The organization that I chose to profile for their storytelling by way of the groups website is called “The Brotherhood Sister Sol”.  They were started in Harlem in 1995 with a mission to try and make a holistic and lasting positive impact in the lives of African American and Latino youth living in socially and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

I first heard of this group when their director was being interviewed for their work fighting the NYPD’s “Stop and Frisk” policy. This policy has now been deemed illegal on the grounds that it is ineffective and is alienating a large population of black and Latino males by using racial profiling for random street stops.

The site uses quotes from well known and prominent celebrities, academics and social activist to advocate for the good work of the organization. Cornel West, Harry Belafonte and Oprah Winfrey are a few of their supporters. I think that the site and organization are good at telling their story in part because of how deep they go in their mission statement and their mission itself to fully disrupt the general life cycle of the average urban youth.

They serve around 300 Harlem kids in their program per year, running from age 8-22. Their aim to be a long term fully integrated support service that focuses on fostering future change makers, not just healthy adjusted citizens. They go beyond that goal and work intensely with a fairly small number of youth so as to make a bigger impact by instilling a wide variety of lessons such as, “leadership development, educational achievement, sexual responsibility, sexism and misogyny, political education and social justice, Pan-African and Latino history, and global awareness.” These are bold goals but exciting to see their statistics on the successes in different areas like teen pregnancy, college enrollment, employment and incarceration of participates versus general population.

The director and co-founder Khary Lazarre-White is frequently interviewed and uses the media and his involvement with social justices issues as a platform for him to share his work at the center. This is effective it getting out their message and sharing their work. The web site is clear, easy to navigate and makes you want to explore and learn more about it. They make regular updates to the site as well as Facebook, sharing information about goings on with members, staff and any exposure in the media.

Notes on Telling Your Story

For students who couldn’t join us for class tonight, please add your ideas to this list as well.

1. How to Tell Your Nonprofit Story

survivors’ stories, the person who has lived with it

life before and after

communicates hope

speak to broad audience through multiple means of representation

why you exist? What is the environment that you work in

speak from your head and your heart (heartfelt)


visual representation of your story – a picture is worth a thousand words

achievements, significant outcomes

credentials, accreditation, partnerships

“be the moon”


2. Ways to Get Your Nonprofit Story Out


posters, fliers

strangers at bus stops

use people who are well known

columns in newspaper

educating while sharing about your organization

being in the community

being effective with what you do

empowering your stakeholders—tell the stories to your stakeholders

separate stories related to roles

joining professional networks, attending events

holding events

social media

working the press

join private sector circles

invite people over

going door to door


3. What to Avoid in Sharing your Nonprofit Story

Airing dirty laundry

Be careful about too emotional/exploitative

Don’t bash other organizations or people

Be careful about repeating stories, make sure stories are true, don’t embellish, get your facts straight.

Capacity Building: Small Steps

I have definitely seen partnerships at work. In fact, I just got an email today thanking students for donating to the food pantry. At the end it listed all the partners. This idea of teaming-up was also well-praised in the NLA’s Fall Workshop. Though I don’t have an administrative perspective on this topic, I can understand how effective it could be.

I understand the idea of having everyone save their files in the same format. This is a good idea, but must be well-organized. If the organizational system is poor or ineffective, employees will fail to use it or be frustrated at storing their files in this way. This is a good idea in theory, but must be well-executed. I have seen it fail in schools and businesses too often.

Keeping track of relationships is important. This is actually a structured part of my RA job at Wright State. This is another thing that is wonderful in theory, but must be initiated carefully. If too many rules are tacked onto this, it can make talking to students or donors (or whoever) seem artificial and my keep relationships shallow. If well-executed, this would be a wonderful tool for MCC SWAP which focuses deeply and relies heavily on relationships. They believe in maintaining relationships with homeowner because of their religious background but must have trouble maintaining them with a new summer staff each year. These relationships are vital, as SWAP is located in small towns and relies on homeowners to help the program through donations or labor when their situation improves.

The Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong

The assumption on which Dan Pallotta is basing his entire argument is that larger nonprofits are more affective. This is not necessarily true, though he is correct in saying that, from a social perspective, they have a disadvantage when competing with for-profits.

He addresses nonprofits from a strictly private sector failure perspective, which is a little narrow-minded. This doesn’t take into account government failure, social capital, or any of the other philosophies of the nonprofit sector. He assumes nonprofits should be compared to, and run similarly to, businesses in terms of compensation, advertising, etc.

He states that we encourage people to earn lots of money in the business sector, but shun it in the nonprofit sector. I would argue that people still see something innately wrong in people earning millions in the private sector. Also, the way he looks at it, money is the only motivator for people and this is not true.

He makes a good point that nonprofits are discouraged from investing in advertising and “overhead” and from taking risks and I like what he says here: “when you prohibit failure, you kill innovation.” This is true, but doesn’t account for advertising through word of mouth and good PR.

He argues that nonprofit failure is exemplified by a lack of a cure for homelessness and cancer. This is certainly a weakness in his argument. I believe these are problems that can be improved, but that we are far from finding a cure for a multitude of reasons and that homelessness is inevitable. This is a correlation, but he jumps straight to causation.

Capacity building at Rubicon

Rubincon’s stress on building capacity through a powerful, well educated and compensated staff looks like the most broad approach to expanding their impact. I don’t think that you can overrate the importance of a great staff in relation to the success of your organization. Rubicon appears to put this idea into action with their strategies used to find and keep great talent. Paying wages that are competitive with the private for profits they are able to be much more resourceful and attract a wider variety of people. This is important if you want to escape the narrow spectrum of altruistic business people. This may sound too limited but I only mean it in general terms, you get a wider array of talents that are equally important to a nonprofit.
As the article points out strong talent in management spills over into increasing the capacity of the entire operation. Too often it is presumed that nonprofit “types” should all be in and stay in nonprofits simply for the satisfaction it can bring, I think that if we are being honest this is way too much to expect and is a detriment to the sector as a whole, all the while trying to maintain integrity they are shooting themselves in the foot.

The way we think about charity is dead wrong.

In his talk Dan Pallotta makes a pretty convincing argument for a reinvention of the nonprofit sector. Though I think that half a million dollars a year is well beyond what one needs to feel secure and successful I do agree that our culture has a sick relationship with the idea of profit making in “nonprofit” organizations. Maybe they just need renamed. Having an entire sector named for not making any money seems like a loaded situation from the start. Our over the top capitalism with no accountability seems to be the fuel that makes this name necessary yet they are under a constant scrutiny unlike any other industry in our business culture.
I can certainly understand some of the backlash against him for this talk, particularly in light of the massive failure of his own nonprofit, in spite of its massive fund raising. He could come across as bitter or resentful though that isn’t how I saw it, just using his own experience as a prime example. It is true that making less money in nonprofits seems like a social requirement, regardless of how much money you generate towards the goal, this stigma naturally makes the sector seem strangely pious, the reward and compensation is to be emotional and social versus economical. Even though I think that there is no greater rewards than these it is hard to compete for certain types of talent that way.

The way we think about charity is dead wrong

Dan Pallotta had a lot of good points that made sense however I have to seriously consider where he thinks the money to fund NP’s will magically appear, as if it’s okay to underscore what the NP truly stands for by having a philanthropist just send over a blank check and say here “write it for the amount you need”. We all need to understand more money isn’t going to fix everything in a nonprofit. The need for proper structuring, leadership, and a drive for improvement is necessary to put that money to work to find innovative solutions to world problems, true. To be willing to step out and take the hit to advertise for the right cause, to get the motivation and drive to get the proper funding instead of tucking their tails in because they did a GOOD in getting their name and cause out there to not be afraid of becoming the bastion of the media. I’m sure he means well however, he needs to reword and have several different angles on how NP’s can be more profitable instead of making donations and philanthrophy sound so bitter on his tongue.