Hammer Factories, Carpenters, and Pigs . . . editor notes issue #97

These days there are so many people creating tools for nonprofit leaders and for activists. Foundations fund online tools, research studies, websites that analyze and present data, convenings on new tools, and so forth. We have a million factories making hammers.

But we don't have enough carpenters to use all these hammers. Every few months we have a dozen more foundation-funded studies on taxes, but almost no funding for nonprofits organizing for tax reform. We have thousands of whitepapers with recommendations for lawmakers, and almost no money for people organizing voters who will elect lawmakers who might take those recommendations.

In fact, if we had more carpenters, they would buy more hammers; they'd drive up demand. A carpenter-driven market would drive quality, usefulness and price in hammers. If only foundations would fund fewer new hammer factories, and instead fund a lot more carpenters, we might actually see more houses built.

And maybe pigs will fly to the stars.

* This issue: nonprofit yoga from Vu Le, a very practical guide to legacy giving, Ask Rita on how to figure out how many employees you have (yes, this is a very complicated question), and a Board Cafe piece on whether the board or the executive director is "the boss." And, excerpts from interviews with 28 nonprofit executives who followed founders or longtimers, along with a request for you to participate in a national study on the topic.

* Many of you know my "day job" is as CEO of the California Association of Nonprofits -- CalNonprofits. We're about to publish the first-ever economic impact study of California's nonprofit sector . . . along with great speakers Rick Cohen, Judy Belk, Robert Egger, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, and more at our July 31 - August 1 convention in Los Angeles. I hope to meet up with you there!

Coming up . . . Blue Avocado's 100th issue. We're planning to celebrate with a chance to vote for your favorite article, a Blue Avocado contest, Blue Avocado e-books, and of course, a chance to make a donation to help us keep going for 100 more. Keep your eyes peeled! -- Jan Masaoka

Comments (3)

  • BTW, for what it's worth I'm loving Blue Avacado. It strikes the perfect balance between practicality, satire, and fun IMHO. Keep up the great work!

    Apr 24, 2014
  • Anonymous

    Your thoughts about "carpenters" and "hammers" are so on target. Thank you for saying it, clearly and succinctly. Foundations should not be under the illusion that more reports and online tools are going to change society.

    Jun 11, 2014
  • This is the only fundraising publication worth a damn.

    Jun 12, 2014

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