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IRS Nullifies Section 501(c)(3) . . . Issue #95 April 1 2014

April 1, 2014 . . . Blue Avocado is in secret merger talks with the Red Cross, Greenpeace,Yellow Ribon Fund, Purple Heart Foundation, American Black Film Festival, and Brown University. "At last, there will be a place where wounded veterans can make films about college students eating guacamole in disaster areas," said a spokesman.

"You can fool some of the people all of the time," said circusman P.T. Barnum famously, "but you can only fool all of the people on April Fool's Day." Here are the winning entries in our contest for stories "impacting" the nonprofit sector today. -- Susan Sanow and Jan Masaoka

IRS Announces Recall of Section 501(c)(3)

From Paul Sussman, Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, San Francisco

The Internal Revenue Service announced today the recall of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code due to "unwieldy and inconsistent requirements" that can cause "extreme inconvenience, high operating costs, and in rare cases, insanity" among managers. The IRS promised to repair the problem as soon as possible, and offered nonprofit organizations subsidies to compensate for costs incurred in complying with the malfunctioning code section. The announcement stunned nonprofit leaders, but left financial markets seemingly unaffected.

Nonprofits See Benefits of Secession from U.S.

From Robyn Blackwell, United Way of Acadiana, Lafayette, Louisiana

Several nonprofit organizations are considering withdrawing from the United States and declaring themselves sovereign nations in order to apply for foreign aid and balance their budgets. Says one NPO executive, "Our board looked at the amount of money going to capacity building in foreign countries. Since grant funding has become more competitive, our board considered this to be a creative and viable fundraising opportunity. We're really thinking out of the box!"

Charity Navigator Closes

From Lee Taylor, Hayward, California

"We realized it's stupid to rank nonprofits based on a few unproven management indicators," said leaders. "We apologize for all the harm we've done to good nonprofits." When reached for comment, a nonprofit spokesperson said, "Ding dong the wicked witch is dead."

AFP Approves Hypnosis as Acceptable Fundraising Method

From Katie O’Daley

Always open to new possibilities, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) has approved hypnosis as a technique for fundraising. "We're all about results,” says the AFP spokesman. "Whatever it takes to part individuals with their money is what it's all about.  Getting money from foundation program officers remain a challenge. After all, it's not really their money."

Foundation Spends Down Without Giving Money To Kids' Foundations

From Kate Kawahara, MCOPED, Los Angeles

As more and more foundations announce they are spending down their assets, there has been praise from many corners of the nonprofit world. "It's great to see foundations recognizing the needs of today," said one nonprofit leader.

But a closer look reveals that most foundations that spend down do so by giving large portions to the foundations of their children. That's why it was headline news when the Ssenippah (happiness backwards) Foundation spent down its assets by giving it to poor people. "Giving a starving man a fish is an outcome," said the soon-to-be-former president. "He's got a million people trying to teach him to fish who don't realize that the lake near him is too polluted to fish in."

Participant Asks Actual Question at a Conference

From Lee Taylor, Hayward, California

A sleepy, passive audience was jolted awake at a session of last week's national conference of IS (Independent Statistics) when a participant asked a question. As is the norm, all the "questions" up to then had been either brief opinion speeches or slightly-disguised self-promotions. Panelists were too startled to respond at the time. "We never expected an actual question," said the moderator later. "This was truly a first for us."

If Someone Hands You a Blue Avocado, Make Blue Guacamole

From Ann Adrian

Through the power of genetic modification, Blue Avocado is delighted to announce that there are, in fact, blue-hued avocados headed to a Whole Foods near you!  Cause related marketing is in full swing with Whole Foods rolling out a special  promotion by inking a deal with blues legend BB King. Staffers at Blue Avocado will be trotting out a recipe contest and plans for Blue Avocado: The Cookbook. Whole Foods will do in store demos on the blue fruit, with staff clad in Blue Avocado t-shirts and passing out free slap bracelets.

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Winners and judges

Congratulations and thank you to our wonderful creative readers for the items considered for this special April Fool’s Day issue: Ann Adrian, Robyn Blackwell, Angela Goldstein, Lydia Green, Sarah Martinez Helfman, Kate Kawahara, Priscilla Martens, Katie O'Daley, Frank Resnick, Ann Rosenfield, Karen Sell, Paul Sussman, and Lee Taylor.

Winners have been invited to a campfire conversation with Rick Cohen from Nonprofit Quarterly and Blue Avocado publisher Jan Masaoka.

Thanks to the judges, too: Christina Dragonetti of the California Association of Nonprofits, Linda Fowells of Community Partners, Jeff Kost of Development Resources, Inc. (DRI), Gloria Rubio-Cortes of the National Civic League, Suzanne Vella of the Nonprofit Center Milwaukee, and Craig Weinrich of the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers.

Next issue of Blue Avocado: Our next regular issue comes out late April with articles on HR and transgender employees, a First Person Nonprofit on following a founder, the estimable Vu Le, and A Board Member's Guide to Overhead. See you soon! -- Susan and Jan

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Take a 6-Minute Vacation Trip to the Moon

Watch last week's moon landing from the camera of Yutu -- Jade Rabbit, the Chinese moon rover -- and reflect on your life and the future of human civilization. And then go back to reading your email.

"The moon . . . never leaves. Every day it’s a different version of itself. Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light. The moon understands what it means to be human. Uncertain. Alone. Cratered by imperfections.”
Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me

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Take a 3-Minute Vacation While on a Conference Call

If you're on a conference call and playing solitaire or answering email, try playing our Nonprofit Conference Call Bingo instead . . . you'll listen more carefully!

Instructions: print this out and place an X in each square when you hear one of the typical conference call annoyances or cliché's. Get five in a row -- in any direction -- and you win!

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Three Minute Vacation: Talk to Yourself

Guaranteed, you'll end up talking to yourself as you read the 22 Maps That Show How Americans Speak English Totally Differently From Each Other. Here's a look at word choice, pronunciations and accents from across the United States. (tip: look for the GO RIGHT arrow in the upper-ish right to get to the next map)

Would you say, "So, you guys, I am putting on my sneakers, grabbing a submarine, hopping on the highway and heading to the city," or would you say "So y’all, I am putting on my tennis shoes, grabbing a hoagie, hopping on the freeway and heading to the city" and mean the same thing.

We may all be speaking American English, but we're worlds apart. Not to mention those English-speaking New Zealanders. And if only we could better understand the language differences between grantmakers and grantseekers!

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Take a 3-Minute Vacation Right Now: A Different Kind of Fact

Some days it feels like the nonprofit sector emits a constant drumbeat of dismaying statistics about how awful the world is. And then, because we are always told we have to be positive, we add in a little story about how one or two people are overcoming the odds. Unintentionally, this juxtaposition creates an impression of the nonprofit sector where we are helping five people do better while 87% of their population is in terrible shape.

So here's a little, temporary antidote: some facts that will make you happy.

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Take a Three Minute Vacation Because Timing is Everything

Sure, timing is everything! Feeling stressed and wondering what you've done the last few hours? Take a couple of minutes and enjoy these fun photos where the photographer happened to catch exactly the right moment on film. Spend the next three minutes looking at those that got it just right. You could use a smile and a moment of amazement.

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Is it April 1 Yet? Blue Avocado #86

At Blue Avocado, it's April 1 and we're thinking about changing our name: help us decide! One possibility is the Blue Avocado Foundation, which would allow us to receive the sucking-up of hundreds of nonprofits every day. We would declare ourselves in strategic planning mode for three years, during which we could debate "outcome" vs. "impact," and "marginalized" vs. "disadvantaged." (As a regular nonprofit, we could never have considered suspending operations for long periods of time in order to plan.)

Alternatively, we're considering Church of the Blue Avocado, which would mean we can skip Form 990, report nothing to anyone about anything, and still keep our tax-exempt status. And design some gorgeous choir robes, too. Whaddya think, readers?

There's other great news in April for nonprofits. Read on. --Jan Masaoka

Obama Administration Hires Senior Official Not from the Gates Foundation
Submitted by Michael Edwards

In a move that sent shock waves . . .

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Take a 3-Minute Vacation to an Oscar-Nominated Film Starring Avocados

Has anyone else seen an avocado in an Oscar nominated film this year?

It's not too often we at Blue Avocado take a strong stand on who should win a Best Film Oscar, but we are rooting for for an Academy Award 2013 Best Animated Film (Short) nominee. For your consideration: "Fresh Guacamole."

This one minute 45 seconds has to be the tastiest film ever. Watch it twice for a full 3-minute vacation.

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The Founding Fathers Write a Grant Proposal

"Just look at this second sentence!" groaned Samuel Adams. "'We hold these truths to be self-evident  .  .' This flies in the face of 'evidence-based practice'! We'll never get funded!"

Another delegate had a different complaint: "This mission statement is way too long!" he wailed. "Mr. Jefferson, no one will ever read this 'Declaration of Independence' of yours."

In the meantime, George Washington had been working up a budget for the revolutionary war (earlier called the innovative war). His initial figures . . .

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Take a 3-Minute Vacation Poking Fun at International Aid Groups (and ourselves)

Give your used eyeglasses to poor kids! Ship your old shoes to Africa! Send blankets to earthquake victims! At last, a group of Africans has turned the tables on heart-rending international relief causes with a new one of their own: sending used radiators from Africa to people in Norway who are suffering from frostbite.

This tongue-in-cheek, beautifully produced music video makes viewers question the effectiveness of aid efforts to developing countries, and reminds us how such campaigns can reinforce the stereotypes of Africa and elsewhere -- despite the catchy music.

Now, where is my old semi-broken electric space heater? I think I'll send it to Norway -- and feel great about myself all day!

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