Category Archives: blogs

Moving Day

We’ve moved.

And by “we,” I mean “my blog.”

“Why, Mickey? Why mess with a good thing?” The main reason was the ads that popped up at the bottom of posts. They drove me batty. There’s also more freedom – design, content, functionality – when you own your own blog. I’m told. Hey, I’m still learning.

So if you want to keep up with my zany hijinks and occasional bizarre adventures, I hope you’ll consider following me over to

Thanks, as always, for reading. I hope to see you over at the new place soon!

Moving Day

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Book Review: The Future of Nonprofits

Book Review:  The Future of Nonprofits:  Innovate and Thrive in the Digital Age by David J. Neff and Randal C. Moss

The Future of Nonprofits - coverWhen I was asked to review The Future of Nonprofits, I’ll admit that I was a little reluctant. I typically prefer to read and review fiction.  The information I use to stay current on nonprofit and volunteer trends comes from blogs, webinars, articles, workshops, podcasts, and a variety of sources and generally doesn’t include books.

I’ve worked in the nonprofit sector for years, though, both as a leader of small nonprofits and as a resource to nonprofits of all sizes.  I’ve observed recent trends in the sector and struggled to adapt, and I’ve watched others do the same.

As I started reading The Future of Nonprofits, a funny thing happened. I’d find myself referring to it in conversations, or working key points into discussions and presentations.  In fact, I’ve been recommending it to board members, community leaders, and local nonprofit staff, saying, “It’ll be available soon, you should definitely consider picking up a copy.”

What makes this book different from the gazillions of others written for nonprofits? It’s timely, it’s relevant.  It provides genuinely insightful and helpful advice, observations and strategies, scaled for nonprofits ranging from large to small.

  • It explains the differences between strategic planning and “futuring”, and why future scanning is so crucial for nonprofit success.  For smaller organizations that might not have the resources to future scan, the authors suggest ways to create a nimble and flexible organization poised to quickly make the most of new trends.
  • It scrutinizes business management strategies that nonprofits are beginning to use (Lean, Six Sigma and TQM) and it carefully considers which aspects could work for nonprofits and explains why others won’t.
  • It offers case studies and interviews – many rooted in social media – as a means to gain a deeper understanding of the successful transition from idea to reality.
  • It suggests people and organizations to watch and follow – sector leaders across a variety of platforms that will enable the reader to stay connected long after the book is finished.
  • It provides concrete suggestions for embracing innovation from start to finish and removing barriers to implementation (favorites include sample job descriptions and interview questions targeting innovative qualities for staff members).
  • It predicts trends for both nonprofit fundraising and communications. (Seriously worth the read for these alone.)

What doesn’t this book do?  It doesn’t bombard you with lofty ideas and leave you flailing around as you try to implement them (or, more likely, as you immediately get frustrated and give up).

The authors understand that one of the most difficult aspects of change is actually DOING IT. Neff and Moss acknowledge that creativity is important (and many nonprofits have developed successful systems for generating new ideas), “But the real leverage is in the back end: the ability to execute ideas. Ideas will only get you so far.”  (from The Future of Nonprofits).

There are only a couple of downsides to this book that I could find.  The first is that, while the authors intentionally tried to scale to a range of nonprofit sizes (and they did a great job), the process may seem overwhelming to smaller agencies.  I’d encourage smaller nonprofits to give it a chance, and to consider the fact that their very size may make them more nimble and better positioned to put some of the ideas into practice quickly and with a minimum of fuss.

The second is that some folks who could truly benefit from the book may not read it, or may dismiss it because much of The Future of Nonprofits challenges the, “This is the way we’ve always done things.” mentality.

“…as long as we hold onto our preconceived notions of what our constituents want and how they use our products and services, we will be forever tied to our existing offerings.”  (from The Future of Nonprofits)

As nonprofits, we need to embrace feedback.  Even better, we need to listen and learn where the gaps are and objectively think about ways to better serve our constituents.  We need to embrace change (or at least learn not to fear it).  And we can do this by trying our best to keep up, or we can choose to approach it strategically through some of the lessons shared in this book.

Is now the right time for innovation?  During a prolonged economic crisis?  Shouldn’t we hang on to our limited resources with both hands, and focus exclusively on providing core services?  According to Neff and Moss, this is exactly the wrong approach to take – first of all, what better time to embrace managed creativity than during challenging times? Second, it’s almost impossible to regain an environment that embraces innovation once it’s been stifled, even with the best of intentions.

In the words of the authors:

“The bottom line is this book is going to help your organization do more relevant things faster, less expensively, and drive key business metrics.” (from The Future of Nonprofits).

I couldn’t agree more.

More information on the book is here:

Quotes from the book used with permission for the purposes of this review.  Book cover image from Flickr, some rights reserved under Creative Commons.


Filed under blogs, books, fundraising, non-profits, social media, technology

Jumping Back In

I was going to try to see if I could make it a year without making a post.  This wasn’t out of any sense of personal challenge or even laziness (although a degree of laziness was definitely involved).  It had more to do with the pervading sense of total failure that I felt whenever I checked my own blog.

Last May?  Last MAY?  I haven’t had anything to post since last MAY? What’s wrong with me? Am I that boring? (short answer: yes)

Really what happened is this: it became easier NOT to post than it was to post. And it was far easier to share things with a specific, select audience on Facebook and even Twitter.

But then I discovered that I’d found things that I’d like to share once more with a broader audience, so here I am, back again.  Are you ready?

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Happy New Year!

Wishing everyone a festive and Happy New Year, with hopes for a wonderful 2009.

Sorry it’s been so long since my last post – I’ve been working on the center’s blog and creating one for Volunteer Managers, so things have been quite busy. I also created a Twitter account and have been playing with the website.

On a side note (like I ever really stay totally on topic), I finally figured out how to get that tiny little icon in the address bar and next to the address in bookmarks – it’s called a favicon and I used a service called Dynamic Drive Favicon Generator, created the icon, uploaded it to the website, added a wee bit of html and whooosh! Done! I feel so. . . so techy!

I also connected the Twitter account, the blog, and the Facebook page for the center together which makes updating super easy now. I’m not claiming to be Amazing Web 2.0 Guru or anything, but it sure is interesting to learn new things about how this technology works. I can see so many possibilities in terms of meeting my nonprofit’s mission. . .

Anyway, have a happy and safe New Year!

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Never Judge a Book by Its. . . Nevermind

Purely for entertainment purposes: if you have a blog hosted by Blogger, run (don’t walk) to the Layout Section and click on Add a Gadget.

When I first did this, I added what turned out to be fairly standard gadgets. Blog roll, archives, followers, labels (changed into Magical Tag Cloud), blah blah.

So tonight I’m thinking, these can’t be the ONLY gadgets available, can they? And the answer to that is, in fact, a resounding NO.

In taking another peek, I discovered that there is a gadget for pretty much EVERYTHING ON THE PLANET.

An extremely partial list:

  • Jon Stewart Quote of the Day (I was one click away from adding this one, I have to admit.)
  • Useless Knowledge
  • Sticky Notes
  • Weather Forecasts
  • BBC News Feeds
  • Digg
  • Sunset of the Day
  • Calorie Calculator
  • Periodic Table (Strangely compelling but no.)
  • Smiley of the Day (Please.)
  • Dog Health Tip of the Day (You think I am making that one up. I’ll wait here while you check. Go ahead. Seriously.).

There was one gadget that I was looking for. . . a gadget that lists my favorite or recommended books with pictures of their covers and links to buy them online. Given that information, can you name one gadget that I was not able to find? I’ll bet you can. . .

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RSS Feed Me, Seymour

Well, I created an account in Bloglines but I am going to go back and either create one specifically for work or just delete it altogether.

I may change my mind, but at the moment I prefer Google Reader. I found the interface at Bloglines to be a bit confusing – perhaps they are just offering me too much along with my account? Anyway, I think the point of the RSS Feed lesson in 23 things is to find and populate a reader, which I’ve done.

In the event that anyone is still confused about RSS Feeds, here is the simple video that finally gave me my “Ah ha!” moment:

To prove it, instead of showing a link to my public blogs on Blogspot, I’ve added an application to this blog to showcase some of my current favorites (check out the sidebar to the right).

Now what I need to do is find out how to add a feed to either my blog (does it already have one?) or to my website. . .

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