Several recent articles have clearly struck a nerve -- or pushed buttons -- for readers. The First Person Nonprofit story by a founding executive director whose board fired her incited nearly 100 people to write responses. Last issue's piece on the charitable deduction and John Killacky's "Regrets of a Former Arts Funder" got many people riled up -- either cheering or razzing.
For a moment, let's listen to the music and not the lyrics in these responses. What's surprised us is the harsh tone of so many critics ("put on your big girl panties") and the disagree-ers ("pseudo intellectual liberals know what is best"). Even the agree-ers are full of vinegared self-righteousness.
It's great to see strongly felt, colorfully said comments . . . they fit right in with our goal at Blue Avocado to be less jargonistic, less tiptoe-y, and less full of abstract platitudes like so much of the noise in the nonprofit sector. What strikes us in this instance is that this kind of harshness often comes from people who haven't had many conversations with people who disagree with them.
How many of us have recently had a conversation with someone with a truly different point of view? If we support reproductive rights, have we talked about it with someone who is "pro-life"? Have we discussed our presidential vote with someone who voted the opposite? Have we argued about taxes with someone of a different viewpoint? As for me? Guilty, guilty, guilty.
It's more fun to yell insults, especially anonymously. It's hard for me to sign my name to everything I write in Blue Avocado. But it's a discipline that makes me think harder about convincing someone. (I save my anonymous insult-making diatribes for whoever is playing against the San Francisco 49ers.) -- Jan Masaoka
* This issue: a board member talks about firing a founder, we discuss how to limit staff contact with the board, there's a review of all the "donate buttons" available to nonprofits, and a cooling visit to a hotel in Norway made completely out of ice.
* Query: For an upcoming story on executive director evaluations, we'd like to take a look at the form or process document your organizations uses for your executive director evaluation. We'd like to collect several dozen as part of our research. To include yours, click here. Please include your contact information so we can properly thank you.