About Blue AvocadoWe bring you news and insight every two weeks via our Blue Avocado email newsletter. Don't miss a thing by coming to the website between issues.

What is Blue Avocado?

Blue Avocado is a nonprofit online magazine for community nonprofits. We publish approximately seven times per year through an HTML newsletter delivered to more than 64,000 subscribers. Thanks to its sponsors and members, Blue Avocado subscriptions are free.

Blue Avocado is guided by a Steering Committee of its founding sponsors and leadership:

From its founding in 2008, Blue Avocado operated under the auspices of CompassPoint Nonprofit Services. In June of 2013, Blue Avocado moved to become part of American Nonprofits, a 501(c)(3) corporation; donations are tax deductible.

Blue Avocado strives to be a new kind of online magazine. Here's how:

Blue Avocado speaks for and from the people in community-based nonprofits.
And "community-based" isn't the same as "small." While many community nonprofits are small, some have budgets in the tens of millions and thousands of staff and volunteers. Some small nonprofits aren't community-based; they may be the vehicles for individual expression, or have been set up for technical reasons. Community organizations come out of constituencies and hold themselves accountable to those constituencies. Nurturing the community organizations movement is Blue Avocado's purpose.

Blue Avocado aspires to high quality journalism, OpEds and analysis.

At Blue Avocado we promise every effort not to talk in the abstract jargon that dominates our sector and deadens our senses.
After the soft-pedaling and nonprofit-ese we've all gotten used to, Blue Avocado might sound overly blunt or direct. We're trying to say what's on our minds. Our aim is to be completely practical, completely usable.

We know that you are not the same as your organization.
When nonprofit literature says, "you," it usually means the organization. For example, "you should have a conflict-of-interest policy," really means, "your organization should have a conflict-of-interest policy." We know you are committed to your organization's mission, but you have interests and concerns beyond it. We mean you the individual: a person with a complex heart and a multifaceted mind.

Writing articles about racial, ethnic and other important kinds of diversity is less important to us than integrating our viewpoint on social justice into everything we do.
A belief in recognizing multiple cultures is intrinsic to what we do and who we are, and this belief is embedded in everything Blue Avocado, not just talked about.

We hear America's nonprofit staff, volunteers, leaders, and constituents singing.
To mix metaphors, we want Blue Avocado to be filled with this song.

Let us know what you think and have to say by clicking here.

Become a Member

Join with us at Blue Avocado in supporting the people of community nonprofits and the movements for social change that they both lead and build. We are experimenting with a public television model. You know how it works: public TV is free to watch, but thousands of people support it with modest and large donations. By joining, these members support independent programming, and at higher levels you get a tote bag (or something).

In the same way, it's free to subscribe and register (to comment) at Blue Avocado, and we're also asking you to support Blue Avocado by becoming a member. We need a little help from a lot of you as we go forward. You can become a member by clicking here, with memberships starting at $20. We're dreaming up our versions of the public TV tote bag . . . maybe mugs, maybe leisure wear, maybe beach towels. Send in your suggestions along with your membership!

Queries & Communiques

This cute hedgehog takes a break from eating avocado to ask you:

* California nonprofits: participate in this important study! The California Association of Nonprofits and the U of San Diego are conducting a large study of the economic impact of California's nonprofit sector. Please take the time to complete the survey of nonprofits here; it will be combined with economic and nonprofit data along with a survey of the public for a report in March of next year. Thank you! Click here!

* American Nonprofits call for nominations: As a Blue Avocado subscriber you have been given a membership in American Nonprofits, which is seeking nominees for its national board of directors. If you are interested in working to help nonprofits get fair access to credit and loans as well as the other goals of American Nonprofits, let us know and we'll have more information sent to you. Don't forget to include your contact information!

* Query re high-maintenance board members: Are you an executive with a high-maintenance board member? Are you a high-maintenance board member? What makes someone "high-maintenance" rather than "highly engaged"? Click here to send your thoughts on this topic for a future Blue Avocado article.

* What other nonprofit magazine brings you humor, hedgehogs, journalism, and useful stuff? Consider making a donation to Blue Avocado via American Nonprofits as a holiday gift. And give Blue Avocado to your friends simply by forwarding this issue and encouraging them to subscribe. Thanks!

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Woe or Whoa? Contest Winners Tell Nonprofit Board Tales

Truth or Dare, Blue Avocado Style: sitting around a campfire sure makes our readers blurt out funny, sad, silly or gut wrenching stories. Our Truth or Dare game (from the September 2013 bonus issue), gave our readers to the opportunity to tell their tales of woe or whoa!

Building respect

  • A small foundation was bringing together community experts to discuss homelessness. With little progress and facing yet another meeting, a board member encountered the best expert of all:  a real live homeless person. Imagine the surprise when she brought him to the meeting.
  • As a board meeting was about to begin, an elderly director mistakenly lowered his chair so low his chin just cleared the table. The chairman immediately did the same saving the other's dignity.

A world without filters

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To comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable . . . Editor notes issue #82

This could be the motto for much of the nonprofit sector: to comfort the afflicted, and to afflict the comfortable. Originally said by Finley Dunne about the press, it's a good motto for us, too. Which are you doing today?

As you know, twice a year we do special issues with discounts that last just four days. The last issue was a hit: Blue Avocado readers love free stuff and great deals. Almost 500 people signed up for webinars and the response to the CornerstoneOnDemand offer almost crashed our servers: we got to the "first 100" in 14 minutes.

The one offer we're still waiting on is for our first reader to visit the Top Fun Aviation Toy Museum in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. If you go (free if you say "Blue Avocado") before the end of the year, send us your picture in front of the museum.

* Banking survey: thanks to so many of you who completed this survey sent by our new parent, American Nonprofits. The survey has some rough edges and many of the questions were included because they are required by the National Credit Union Association (which also required the survey). If you haven't taken the survey click here to take the survey for individuals and here for organizations. [As of November 5, 2012 this survey is now closed. Thank you, everyone!]

* Query: for an article on nepotism in nonprofits, let us know your stories.

* Steal a Blue Avocado: don't forget that all Blue Avocado articles are designed to be reprinted in your newsletters, blogs and websites; see our reprint policy here.

* This issue we've got humor columnist Vu Le, an unexpected reflection on the Marriage Equality movement, an upside-down take on Citizens United, a deconstruction of sustainability, and more.

Everywhere I go people tell me they read and enjoy Blue Avocado. Thank you so much, all 64,000 of you, for making our work meaningful. -- Jan Masaoka

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Blue Avocado Webinars for Fall

Each of these webinars is $45, and free for nonprofits insured by the Nonprofits Insurance Alliance Group. Click on the title of the one you're interested in!

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Four-Day Blue Avocado Discounts

We only do this twice a year: In this special issue we have some unusual discounts and free stuff: but each is only good for the next four days! So sign up by Friday, May 27, 5:00 pm Pacific time, or they're gone!

Exceed! Basic fundraising software: Exceed! Basic from Telosa Software can be purchased at $99 or $199, an almost 80% savings for a limited time from May 24th to May 27th. This fundraising software does it all: manage donor records, generate letters (ex: thank you notes and renewals), create reports, manage your mailing lists, and more. It even interfaces with QuickBooks! To help smaller organizations, Exceed! Basic is available at $99 for nonprofits with budgets of $500K or less, and for those of you with a larger budgets of $501K to $1 million it's available at $199: $300 off the regular price. To qualify for the discount and to learn if the software is the right for you and your organization, you just need to sign up for a free webinar within the four days to learn more. For more information, to sign up for a webinar, or to place your order, please click here.

Free Nonprofit Sustainability webinar: Based on the book Nonprofit Sustainability: Making Strategic Decisions for Financial Viability, co-authors Jan Masaoka and Steve Zimmerman will present a webinar on the Matrix Map tool for understanding and revising your business model to address both financial and mission impact at the same time. If you attend the webinar, you will also receive a coupon for a 25% discount on the book. Thursday, June 16, 11:00 am Pacific time. Click here to register (for free)! Limited to the first 500 sign-ups.

Free webinar on the Legalities of Nonprofits and Social Media: This up-to-the-minute webinar will be led by employment attorney Pamela Fyfe who also co-authors the popular "Ask Rita in HR" column for Blue Avocado. Should you google job applicants? Can you limit what employees say about your nonprofit on Facebook, GreatNonprofits, or Yelp? Pamela will delve into best practices for nonprofit policies and procedures around social networking media. Wednesday, July 20, 2011, 11:00 am - noon Pacific time. Click here to register . . . free! Limited to first 500 sign-ups. This webinar and the Nonprofit Sustainability webinar are free thanks to the Nonprofits Insurance Alliance Group.

Nonprofit Quarterly: $10 off on a year's subscription. At Blue Avocado we subscribe to Nonprofit Quarterly (and we paid the full retail price!); you should too (subscribe, that is). But just for these four days, you can take $10 off the regular $49 subscription price so it's only $39. Click here and enter this special code -- BLAV2011 -- in the Coupon Code box you'll see on the checkout page.

In the current issue of this print magazine, we especially like the article "Beyond Financial Oversight" by Jeanne Bell that discusses expanding the board's role to one that focuses on sustainability.

IdeaEncore: $100 rebate on the $500 price for creating an online resource library for your association or nonprofit. You choose nonprofit resources and tools and add your own, setting different prices for members and non-members if you like. You then embed your customized, branded library right inside your website. No technical skills required. In an hour you can have a resource library you created with your own brand. To qualify for the rebate, just email info@IdeaEncore.com by the deadline to arrange for an online demo; you can decide later whether to purchase. Click here for complete info.

Two notes from Blue Avocado:

  • If you would like to have a special discount to a product or service from your nonprofit or company included in the next Blue Avocado discount mailing, please click here to send us a note and your contact information.
  • Don't forget that the biggest discount of all is that you get Blue Avocado in your Inbox every three weeks absolutely free. As you know, we work on the public TV model: free to view but you have to endure a few pledge breaks (like this one) now and again. Donate and become a Blue Avocado member here. Thanks to our 200+ donors! -- Jan Masaoka & the Blue Avocado Steering Committee
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Please Thank the Blue Avocado Member/Donors!

Blue Avocado is free to its 60,000+ subscribers because of the confidence and commitment that our sponsors and donors have in the unorthodox, practical and fun content we strive for. Please look at the list of members for people you know so you can give them a word of thanks along with ours.

And please consider helping to support Blue Avocado yourself . . . click here for more information on membership levels. Thank you so much! Jan & the Blue Avocado Steering Committee

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Birthday Wishes from Readers

We're grateful for the support we've gotten during our 12 months, and now that our very first birthday is here, we're pleased to share the birthday wishes sent our way by a few of our friends and readers. Please consider "signing" our birthday guest book by adding your own Comment!

Happy birthday to the most clever and refreshing nonprofit newsletter on the block! Congratulations on completing the first of many laps around the sun. -- Alana Conner, Stanford Social Innovation Review

Congratulations to Blue Avocado on an inaugural year filled with penetrating insights and timely ideas always accompanied by a healthy dose of fun.” -- Kathleen Enright, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO OUR FAVORITE AVOCADO!  In only one year you have grown from just a little sprout to a lovely tree that supplies all of us with wisdom and nourishment with just the right amount of spice!  We are so proud to be a small part of your important work.  On behalf of our nearly 9,000 NIAC and ANI-RRG members, we thank you for your practical, interesting, and provocative articles.  Keep them coming! -- Pamela Davis, Nonprofit Insurance Alliance Group

Happy Birthday, Blue Avocado! Awfully precocious for a one-year-old, and wise beyond your year. -- Rick Moyers, Meyer Foundation, Washington, D.C.

I've meant to tell you how much/why I like Blue Avocado...the layout is engaging, the scope is manageable, it provides fresh takes on issues,  and you can tell there are live, thinking, caring humans producing it. I've looked at other things for nonprofits from time to time...and come away feeling overwhelmed... and never engaged on a personal level. Reading those is more like taking care of a chore on a  "to-do" list... rather than having the feeling, "oh, goody, a new Blue Avocado's out today." --Karen Aitchison

What a year! I've had the great privilege of working with the Blue Avocado team to help launch this baby, and as we mark our first anniversary, I'm signing off as senior editor. I've met so many dedicated souls - both virtually and in the flesh and blood - who've done a ton to shore up this occasionally jaded 'I'm over it with nonprofits' editor. That's what makes Blue Avocado great - it's so nourishing! Happy Birthday! - Lynora Williams, Senior Editor

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Donate and Support Blue Avocado!

donate! imageIf only Blue Avocados grew on trees! But to get them to your inbox, it takes many staff hours to develop ideas from seeds to stories, and coax them along until they're ripe for the market and your reading enjoyment.

As you know, every issue of Blue Avocado includes at least one practical article, one thought-provoking article, and one fun article. The originality and quality of our content is why we have 64,000 subscribers, nearly 1,000 visitors to the site every day, 200 blog mentions per month, and dozens of articles reprinted in nonprofit newsletters across the United States and in many other countires.

After five years of thriving under the fiscal sponsorship of CompassPoint Nonprofit Services, Blue Avocado is now under the auspices of American Nonprofits, a new national association of nonprofits, nonprofit staff, volunteers, and constituents.

As part of this move, all Blue Avocado subscribers were given free membership in American Nonprofits (through 2014). Everyone can continue to subscribe free to Blue Avocado. But like public television, we ask people to contribute towards keeping the content high quality and free.

How to donate

  • You can donate to American Nonprofits here. If you wish to designate your donation to Blue Avocado and are paying via PayPal, you can designate your donation in the "Add special instructions to the seller" section.
  • If you use your credit card directly online, it's not possible to designate your donation; it will go towards supporting all the important work of American Nonprofits.
  • You can also click here to download a printable and faxable form that you can mail with a check or use for a credit card donation.

Thank you!

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