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June 10, 2008


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Ashley Cecil

I work for a nonprofit and outside of my 40 hour work week, I devote another 20/hrs to similar endeavors. My experience has been that my peers (young 20-something professional NP administrators) come into this sector of fire about an issue and work like dogs for hardly enough to get by. Within a few years have their flame stomped on by bureaucracy and a stagnant baby-boomer staff resistant to change. I know how to make the program I coordinate sexy. I can pull at heart strings like it's going out of style. I can pitch to anyone, from any walk of life. The infrastructure needs to change to embrace the next generation's enthusiasm to pass on the corp world to invest their time in altruistic careers. Sorry about the rant, I just get frustrated about the claim that NP workers don't know how to sell like for-profits. My generation does not fit that mold.


No need to apologize. I think we need more honest back and forth between the generations rather than less. And when I run that film forward in my mind, I see Baby Boomers admitting that they could have been less bureaucratic, among other things, and Gen X-ers confessing that they might not have fully understood all the requirements of managing an organization. We'll all give a little. Then what, I wonder? What will any of us, of whatever generation, have to say to the world about what it is that unites us in a common enterprise? Why should anybody care about our intra-necine disagreements? Why should we?

Love your art, by the way.


i agree wholeheartedly!

i've much preferred the term "community benefit organization" to "nonprofit" because CBO actually describes what an organization is about, rather than its tax status.

using the phrase "community benefit" also makes everything seems a lot more attractive--pulls at the heartstrings and conveys a sense of values that "nonprofit" doesn't.

Amy Sample Ward

I think it's an interesting place to be caught: between the rock (passion to work on some of the most difficult social problems) and the hard place (burn out because of work on some of the most difficult social problems). It isn't just frump, in my opinion. It's more than frump. It is changing not just the way nonprofits talk about their work but the way everyone talks about their work. At the end of the day, that hard work which you say is so meaningful is viewed so 'frumpy' by everyone. So, how do we change that? How do we make some of the most meaningful work star-studded? (If that is the opposite of frumpy.)

Thanks for sharing these thoughts!

Tidy Sum

Maybe someone could write a style section for the Chronicle of Nonprofit Strategery.

We could start by sending out free pairs of Bono sunglasses to all WCT readers as part of a new LessFrump campaign.

I put on a pair and feel like a new man.

The style issue could start with virtual makeovers of the great do-gooder frumps in History. Jesus, Ghandi, Buddha, Fonda, Mother Teresa... talk about fashion don'ts, people!

Would it have killed them to accessorize?

Frumpage in the sector is the tip of the iceberg lettuce.

Half of nonprofit organizations seem clinically depressed. It is no wonder that their socks don't match.

Last month I asked the director and staff of a small nonprofit organization: "What do you do for fun?"

There was a pause of fifteen beats and a stammered change of subject.

I felt sorry for them. How could they inspire their consituency, donors, friends, and staff?

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