You know your organization is fighting the good fight—but what do you do when personality clashes turn your internal operations into something approaching civil war? In this installment, the Ethicist gives you tips for defusing tensions and mastering diplomacy when things get messy.
The Case against Rainy-Day Framing of Budgets and Taxes by Susan Nall Bales and Yndia Lorick-Wilmot, PhD (Spring 2013)
How the public views fiscal issues is mired in a swamp of toxic ideas about taxes. It’s tempting to try circumventing the muck and downplaying the importance of revenue issues, but in order for change to happen, you need to know how to navigate that swamp. Strategic Frame Analysis™ can help.
Over the last thirty years, ideas of “waste, fraud, and abuse” have loomed large in the debate over taxes, while lawmakers have made our tax system more regressive. Is there hope for reform? The author identifies seven tax policies that nonprofits should back.
Participatory Budgeting in the United States: What Is Its Role? by Daniel Altschuler, PhD (Spring 2013)
“Now is not the time to be creative,” said Vallejo mayor Osby Davis, when his city became the first in the nation to use Participatory Budgeting. But judging from its success, the time seems ripe for this experimental form of local governance, in which citizens actively work together to allocate city funding to projects.
How can nonprofits weigh in on the national debate over taxes if we don’t have a solid grounding in what is happening at the state level? In this investigative report, Cohen dissects the nation’s tax structures state by state in an effort to wean the sector from its narrow focus on charitable deductions and point it toward a more comprehensive understanding of the bigger picture.
Death by a Thousand City Fees: How Local Governments May Be Weakening Their Own Delivery Systems by Jeannie Fox (Spring 2013)
Given the economic crunch, it’s no surprise that traditionally tax-exempt entities are being squeezed by local governments. When done without conversation, as in levies, this is problematic— but nonprofits would do better to come out fighting by making a strong case (and having polling data to back it up) that the public actually wants to see tax dollars devoted to their missions.
You may think that a personnel committee is a necessity for a well-functioning board, but Dr. Conflict assures you otherwise. The board governs but does not manage the organization; personnel matters are not its job. Get a grip, disband the committee, do your salary-survey homework, and help the board to do a better job.
“Deliberate Deployment” or Perpetuity? Questions to Inform Timing Strategies for Philanthropy by A. W. “Buzz” Schmidt (Spring 2013)
For the billionaire philanthropist, conventional wisdom holds that forming a traditional private foundation is the right way to channel those mammoth charitable assets. But a question that new philanthropists should be asked, is: what is the time frame for deploying those assets? Here the author weighs the benefits of the perpetual versus the “deliberate deployment” model.
Bottom-Up Versus Top-Down Land Conservation by Steven I. Apfelbaum, MS, Alan Haney, PhD, and Alvaro F. Ugalde, MS (Spring 2013)
Most national and state land-conservation efforts are top-down projects, but evidence suggests that it is becoming increasingly important to focus on bottom-up strategies. In this look at grassroots community-based conservation, the authors describe the ongoing negative effects of the top-down approach, and explain, “When groups of citizens come together to start a conversation about the future of the land they love, and act together to protect it, this creates a more durable project. Both the land and local citizens are better served.”
Islamophobia in Public Discourse: A Case Study in Building an Online Communications Hub by John Hoffman, MBA (Spring 2013)
Tackling anti-Islamic sentiments around the “war on terror,” a group of nonprofits banded together, delivering their message as a unified front. Their efforts serve as an outstanding case study for any organization seeking to impact national dialogue.
While nonprofits recognize that our stakeholders want to become more engaged, we still tend to operate as if we can dictate the terms of engagement, and we continue to use traditional ways of communicating to pull people in. But stakeholders today are busy plugging directly into networks they care about. The old ways promote the message, “Our needs first”; it is time, as the author enjoins, to “stop, pull up a chair, and listen.”
What is the secret to undermining institutional philanthropy? Phil Anthrop’s SEVEN POINTS to effectively render foundations ineffective are a tour de force of cunning, collusion, and commitment to bringing the enemy down by whatever means necessary.