An Executive Director's point of view


September 12, 2017: Don't judge a book by its cover

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
You will have made a mistake.

August 22, 2017: No eclipse

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
I suppose it's nice that people paid a lot of attention to the solar eclipse instead of fretting about world events.

But the eclipse was no big deal to me.

At its peak, I was driving in Chicago. It was overcast, like before a big storm. Still, there were shadows everywhere, as if there was sunlight, but just not enough of it. If I hadn't known about the eclipse, I wouldn't have even noticed that oddity.

I don't think there's anything spiritual, uplifting, or even amazing about a solar eclipse. It's just a cosmic event that happens once it a great while.

But it was a welcome distraction for a lot of people.

June 22, 2017: Ask a friend

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
Researchers claim that Millennials rely on personal references for services while Boomers respond to advertising appeals.

Well, Boomers have relied on personal references for a lot of services for a very long time.

Doctors, dentists, physical therapists, lawyers, plumbers, electricians, painters, auto mechanics, landscaping companies, contractors, tailors, cleaners, restaurants, ice cream parlors, and lots of other businesses.

Reliance on personal references is not a new trend.

June 20, 2017: Dialogue or debate

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
Both are effective methods for getting your way.

Use whichever works best in any given situation.

May 28, 2017: Rumor has it...

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
Here's a way to handle the rumor mill at work.

May 15, 2017: Dealing with problems

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
A colleague recently requested advice about how to handle a problem with her Board that she felt had become toxic.

Unfortunately, these types of queries are not unusual.

I generally suggest the person simply leave, since it may be difficult to find a way to continue working in a dysfunctional organization.

But most folks are not in a financial position to quit without first acquiring another job.

So, they need to find a way to deal with the situation right now.

Sometimes, Boards make bad decisions without staff input, such as refusing to follow plans or budgets (or even to craft those in the first place). That may simply be how they are accustomed to conducting their own businesses.

Other times, one or more Board members have conflicts of interest and either don't realize it, don't think it matters, or don't care. Or, a strong-willed Board member - often the Chair - wins approval from colleagues who are loathe to challenge a proposal.

Board members may even perform tasks that are included in staff job descriptions, leaving employees to wonder who is actually responsible for what.

What can you do?

Meet with Board leaders (ideally, two or more people) to raise concerns in as non-confrontational a manner as possible. Ask them to clarify your duties and responsibilities. Do your best to do what they want you to do.

Then update your resume and discreetly look for another job.

April 17, 2017: Respect introverts

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
You can do that by leaving them alone.

Don't call attention to them.

Don't ask them to talk in meetings, or to comment, or to share their opinions. They'll decide for themselves if they want to do any of those things.

Don't call on them in class.

Don't ask for volunteers and then pick people (like them) who didn't volunteer.

Don't demand they speak in front of groups - unless that is really, really necessary.

And if you believe it is, find ways they can do that without forcing them into situations that will trigger their anxieties and fears.

Sometimes, written correspondence, email, and social media will be satisfactory alternatives.

But if that is not enough, and your organization needs them to be more personally outgoing, help them to develop that ability, but in ways that are comfortable for them.

Don't force them to do things the way you do. That just won't work.

March 11, 2017: Religious advocacy?

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
If a charity funds social services and education but embeds religious instruction in its services, is it serving the needy or using that service as cover to win converts?

February 03, 2017: Rescuing professionals

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
Here's how some scientists are helping their colleagues who have been barred from entering the U.S. by the anti-Muslim ban.

February 02, 2017: Pay your bills

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
Not-for-profits should stop acting like they are entitled to free services because they pursue worthy missions.

Their work shouldn't matter. They should still pay their bills.

It doesn't matter if they serve war refugees, terminally ill patients, hungry children, the disabled, or anybody else in need.

While it's great if they can secure donations or discounts, they should not expect those nor think they are entitled to them.

Not-for-profits (already exempt from income tax and, sometimes, sales tax, too) should pay their rent, utilities, credit card fees, shipping costs, printing bills, internet service charges, and everything else required to conduct organizational business.

The Syrian American Medical Association is currently asking Facebook for a waiver of its fund-raising fees, which cover legitimate, online expenses. I hope Facebook stands firm and refuses the request.

This isn't the first time, and it won't be the last time, that a not-for-profit tries to avoid paying for costs it has incurred.

This self-righteous practice should end now.
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