May 20, 2011
Personal Responsibility, Really?
Have you noticed that the phrase personal responsibility has begun to resurface as the country discusses the looming debt crisis, major budget cuts and the word “taxes,” which seems to have become profane? The last time the phrase personal responsibility was used this much by those inside the Beltway, progressive causes were under attack, and progressives appeared to be on the ropes.
When Meanings Become Meaningless
As a communicator by trade, I am still awed by the power of words — and still amazed at some people’s willingness to manipulate them until the original meaning is almost meaningless. As a nonprofit communicator committed to advancing justice, I pledge to work hard to keep the denotation of personal responsibility front and center in my own discussions and writing. I hope to help keep the connotation that some less-then-progressive people are trying to yoke to the phrase from becoming the norm.
I intend to write and talk more about the personal responsibility of politicians to tell the truth about what it costs to run the world’s largest economy. I want to call them on any obfuscation about who is paying for what, and who is not paying their fair share.
Do You Have to Be a Person?
Now that corporations are equal to one human being, I’d like to ask companies to demonstrate personal responsibility in caring for the environment, employee health and well-being, and customer satisfaction as much as “s/he” ;-) cares for the bottom line.
I would like those of us with jobs and who make a living wage to demonstrate personal responsibility in ensuring the health and well-being of those in our communities who are not so lucky right now. I would like us to demonstrate personal responsibility for our youth, modeling this behavior to help them figure out what being a good citizen means and calling young people out (instead of hurriedly walking away) when we see them being irresponsible.
What About Everyone Else?
Mostly, I want progressive nonprofits and their staff to use the phrase personal responsibility in ways that illustrate how crucial taking responsibility for oneself — and one’s community — is for ensuring the kind of communities and world for which we are working so hard.
AND, I think it is time to co-opt some language. What about civic engagement and encouraging democratic principles?
May 13, 2009
A recent Boston Globe article suggested that the nonprofit merger rate has increased due to the economic downturn. In a letter to the editor, TSNE’s Hez Norton, who oversees our new Organizational Transitions program, suggests that there are many other — and often more effective – ways for nonprofits to share resources to better serve constituents.
In “More nonprofits engage in mergers for survival” (April 15, 2009), The Boston Globe examines one way that nonprofit organizations are collaborating - through mergers. While this may be a viable alternative for organizations with compatible missions, it is important to understand that merger is just one of many ways nonprofits are collaborating across the sector.
Third Sector New England was privileged to play a role in the two merger situations profiled in the article. Through our Executive Transitions Program, we placed the interim executive director at Dorchester CARES, who supported that merger process. We also placed the interim executive director and helped lead the transition process with Concilio Hispano that led to merger.
It is critical that nonprofit organizations explore an array of options as they look to meet their mission and best service constituents, especially during these difficult economic times. These options include joint ventures, shared services, merger, shared administration, shared programs and fiscal sponsorship.
The bottom line: Nonprofits need always to be creative in serving their constituents effectively – while keeping mission front and center. Looking at new models of collaboration and partnership has always been important. Now it is more important than ever.
Hez Norton, manager
Executive and Organizational Transitions
April 9, 2009
Unless you’ve been circling the earth on the International Space Station for the past six months, you know that President Barack Obama signed the 407-page American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, better known as the Stimulus Plan, into law on February 17.
We all know about the huge cost of the act – $787 billion dollars in spending (16) and tax and related provisions (7), the political wrangling before and after its passage and signing, and the large number of funding opportunities (34).
Nonprofits Need to Act Now
All stimulus funding is scheduled to expire in fiscal year 2011 – as stimulus funds are, as the name suggests, intended to be temporary, one-time injections of cash aimed at reviving the economy as quickly and efficiently as possible. The funds have been allocated to help people through the current economic meltdown and are not intended to morph into ongoing governmental assistance programs.
March 11, 2009
I’m in the thick of creating a 2008-2009 annual report, and the question I pose to other nonprofit communications professionals is, Why do we keep producing these things, and does anyone bother to read them anymore anyway?
Why do I pose the question? Well. if you enter the question, Does anyone still read nonprofit annual reports? in a Yahoo or Google search, some of the items that come up suggest that annual reports are so last century. BUT, and this is a big but, the writers of these posts tell us that donors still care about what you are doing, who you are serving and your impact.
So, the question is, How do you provide this critical information to funders in a way that keeps the information lively and informative.
My colleagues tell me to consider a video annual report. Or you can try the four-page, keep it short and only discuss impact report. I also saw a report earlier this year that chronicled one young man’s journey thanks to the help he received from a nonprofit.
What advice can you folks give me and each other on the best way to create a relevant annual report in the “keep it simple and short” era? I’d love your help!
February 11, 2009
OR What If You Held a Three-Hour Webinar and Nobody Stayed?
Third Sector New England is offering a new training series to help nonprofits navigate the economic downturn — and use this time of change to decide if they need to retool and refocus their strategic direction. The trainings, which are three hours in length, are being offered for free to people anywhere in the country.
Therefore, we are offering these sessions as both an in-person opportunity and as a hybrid webinar or conference call. Obviously, webinars are rarely more than an hour in length. So we are grappling with how to:
- Make this venture affordable for us (as the minute plan could break the bank quickly).
- More important, make the webinar experience useful, educational and enjoyable for remote participants.
- Make sure the remote feature adds to and does not detract from the experience for in-person attendees.
Have any of you dealt with turning a long training workshop into a shorter webinar or call-in experience for remote participants? How have you structured these trainings, so that the remote folks could sign off in a place that gave them a fulfilling experience and caused the least disruption for the presenter and in-person participants?
Or have you found that people were willing to participate for a two- or three-hour training?
I look forward to your insights.
January 31, 2009
So, Larry King and company have proclaimed, “It’s in to be Black.” He explained, laughingly (and that’s the part that really got me), on one of his recent shows that his eight-year-old son wants to be Black.
When did it become appropriate for people in the news business to joke about race like bad comedians on cable networks?
So, I guess I wasn’t in before?
First, King is suggesting that being Black was out until he decreed otherwise. As a Black American, I’ve always thought that being Black was in. I either felt sorry for or angry at those pathetic people who acted otherwise – the people that unwittingly helped to galvanize the Civil Rights movement and the centuries-long activism (most of it left out of the history books) that came before it.
September 4, 2008
You need 360 degree feedback when managing communications projects.
I’ve been a PR flack for three decades.* I know this work inside and out, and I’m even getting up to speed when it comes to some of the newer communications technologies being embraced by our field (because they are being embraced by our stakeholders).
But I have to admit that sometimes I realize during a communications campaign that the most basic communications — that with the internal stakeholders — has been insufficiently nurtured.
August 29, 2008
While crafting interview questions for a new position at TSNE, the online communications associate, I added a question asking candidates how much experience they had with SEO (search engine optimization). Of course, SEO means, according to Wikipedia, the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to your website from search engines via “natural” (“organic” or “algorithmic“) search results for targeted keywords.
August 20, 2008
It’s been interesting, as a relative techno-newbie, to work on the Third Sector New England Vlog Project with people like Steve Garfield, Deb Finn and Bethany Ramirez, folks who are in the thick of the Web and Web 2.0 (maybe 3.0!) revolution. It can be intimidating, as a person who cut her teeth in the print, pre-computer design and production days, to help to conceptualize a project that requires me to think through pre-production, “talent” prep, final production and distribution for a completely different mode information sharing.
June 25, 2008
Five Tried and True Ways to Pitch the Media on Your Nonprofit’s Issues
You know that media coverage helps to generate discussion about the critical issues your nonprofit organization is trying raise with your constituents and the public in general. But getting coverage is not always easy, especially for issues that nonprofit organizations are apt to be working on, issues related to ensuring equity, building sustainable communities and respecting diversity.
So what works and what doesn’t when it comes to pitching story ideas to traditional print and electronic media? Take this short (Tried and) True or False quiz, and see if you can add any tips to your media pitching toolkit.
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