Listen to the Music . . . editor notes issue #69

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.

Comments (6)

  • I just wanted to let you know that some of the board cafe articles have been incredibly valuable as I am now serving on a couple of nonprofit boards. One board I am on has been an exercise in dysfuntion and is operating against pretty much every principle I used to expose in leading consulting projects on best practices in board governance. But as it has a fellow alum as e.d. and a fairly high level board in terms of competence I thought maybe I was out of touch being on the board vs. a consultant. So I looked up some board cafe works, especially the ones in the end of year edition of Blue Avocado and was very reassured that I was not in fact out to lunch, out of touch etc. So thank you.

    Best regards, Kathy

    Jul 20, 2011
  • I love and need your newsletter....I have changed my e-mail address from
    _____ to ____ - please make this change in your records so I can continue to receive the newsletter. Thanks,
    Jeanne Butler

    [email addresses deleted by editor]

    Jul 20, 2011
  • Susan, Thank you for sending me the answers to the bookkeeping test. I love your website! It is a tremendous asset for those of us who are in nonprofits for the first time. The articles in your e-magazine are wonderful!

    Keep up the great work!


    Jul 20, 2011
  • I have been sent several copies of your newsletter and have been very pleased with its content. Thank you for offering helpful information to non-profit organizations.

    Jul 20, 2011
  • Thank you for your thoughtful, honest writing Jan. I couldn't agree more - we need to have more CIVIL conversations with people we don't always see eye to eye with. It helps us remember how varied our world is, and we can even learn something from them. And then there's always the plus of further honing our effective advocating and/or arguing skills... Keep up the good work! Sarah

    Jul 28, 2011
  • WELL said and thank you.

    Aug 01, 2011

Leave a comment

Fill this field in if you want to post a name a user login

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <small> <sup> <sub> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h1> <h2> <h3> <h4> <img> <br> <br/> <p> <div> <span> <b> <i> <pre> <img> <u><strike>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
3 + 0 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.

subscribe (free)