How to Think Differently About...

How to Think Differently About... [Print Issue]
How to Think Differently About... [Print Issue]
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Spring 2017: Volume 24, Issue 1 – How to Think Differently About...


5 Welcome

6 The Nonprofit Whisperer In this inaugural edition of “The Nonprofit Whisperer,” an unprincipled board member tries to serve two masters, an arts organization gets tangled up in its undefined expenditures, and a CEO leaves on good terms, only to be scapegoated weeks later.

10 How to Think Differently about Communication: Your Nonprofit’s Role in Reframing the Post-Election Discourse Is the way that we frame important social issues not only inadequate but also perhaps even wildly counterproductive? This article from the FrameWorks Institute is worthy of wide distribution, discussion, and selfreflection among nonprofits and philanthropy. by Nat Kendall-Taylor and Susan Nall Bales

22 How to Think Differently about Diversity in Nonprofit Leadership: Get Comfortable with Discomfort “Despite the evidence that systems and structures are leading to the isolation of people of color in nonprofit organizations, there still seems to be a hesitance to talk explicitly about racism in the sector,” writes Sean Thomas-Breitfeld of the Building Movement Project. Here he discusses the “nonprofit racial leadership gap” explored via a 2016 national survey on nonprofits, leadership, and race. by Sean Thomas-Breitfeld

Special Section

28 How to Think Differently about Leadership Transition

30 Reflections on Executive Leadership and Transition Data over Fifteen Years This take-no-prisoners article examines more than fifteen years of stagnant data on nonprofit executive transitions and the lack of progress on such things as the development of shared leadership, young leadership, and leadership diversity. by Jeanne Bell, Paola Cubías, and Byron Johnson

34 Blending Succession Planning and Executive Transition: A Successful Case This case reflecting a new practice model discusses in a vibrant and resonant way how one community-based nonprofit blended business, strategic, and succession planning to support an executive transition. by Tom Adams

40 Five Insights from Directors Sharing Power Can sharing executive leadership really work in nonprofits? What issues does it answer? And how do you approach the possibility? This article takes up these questions through interviews with leaders of five progressive community organizations with shared leadership models, and the resulting observations and advice speak directly to organizational relevance and sustainability. by Jeanne Bell, Paola Cubías, and Byron Johnson

44 How to Think Differently about Your Money: Capital Explored Understanding your nonprofit’s capital structure is a critical part of skillfully managing a sustainable nonprofit—but in the nonprofit sector, the notion of capital is often misunderstood to the extent that it becomes self-limiting. In this article, adapted from one of NPQ’s most well-attended webinars ever, Financial Management Association’s Hilda Polanco and Dipty Jain describe the issues surrounding the various sources and uses of nonprofit capital. by Hilda Polanco and Dipty Jain


55 Want to Improve Governance? Context Matters Drawing on her personal experiences of working in Southeast Asia, organizational development consultant and facilitator Louise Coventry outlines seven dimensions of context that need to be considered when designing governance models and practices. by Louise Coventry

59 Ready to Launch? How the 1023-EZ Has Changed Your Nonprofit Start-Up Options It used to be that for a small nonprofit, deciding between forming an independent 501(c)(3) or using a fiscal sponsor was a fairly straightforward decision. Since the advent of the new Form 1023-EZ, however, the equation has changed. by Tivoni Devor and Laura N. Solomon, Esq.

63 Growth Hacking for NGOs and Nonprofits: How a Few Staffers Can Mobilize Millions In this article adapted from a report copublished by Mobilisation Lab,, and Capulet, the author discusses the lost art of “amplifying an organization or movement with volunteers,” and lays out what growth hacking looks like in twenty-first-century volunteering. by Julie Szabo