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?
January 14, 2011
I’ve spent most of the nonprofit portion of my career as a communications professional supporting the programmatic core of organizations. But I have also worked directly in program departments, creating and growing grassroots initiatives in the field.
While both program and communications staff are passionate about their work – and the mission of the organization they serve – there are often times when the two groups seem to be operating in two different worlds. As a communications staffer, I used to think, Why don’t the program people get it.
Then I went to work as acting deputy director of programs. After a few months, when my former communications staffers came to me with excellent ideas for promoting program work, I thought to myself, Why don’t the communications staff members get it?
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
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.
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.