We are the 99% . . . editor notes issue #73

We are the 99%. And we who work and volunteer in the nonprofit sector know more deeply than most the suffering that so many people are experiencing, and the frustration that young people in particular are feeling.

The authenticity of the movement is as moving as its successes. The Occupy Wall Street movement doesn't have the characteristic lacklusterness of campaigns produced by the political parties or the usual players in the anti-poverty movement. Take a moment to look at the wearethe99percent website to see the real stories of the mostly young 99%ers.

And the movement has succeeded in changing the narrative. This narrative is particularly refreshing given a high-profile narrative that's all too present in the nonprofit sector: that the wealthiest (the 1%) and philanthropy will be the ones to change the world.

Despite the absence of high-profile individuals, it's clear that there is smart, experienced leadership in the movement. Only when there have been advance, sophisticated talks with the police can large demonstrations and arrests occur without violence and mayhem. A Southern California activist tells us that many of the New York organizers have backgrounds in unions and in nonprofits.

If you make less than $593,000 per year, you are part of the 99%. (And did you know that the wealthiest 1% of the population owns more than the bottom 90%?) The nonprofit sector has always been about the 99%. Let's embrace this narrative and movement, talk about it, build upon it, join it. I'll see you there.

* This issue we have a high-value set of articles: one on nonprofit staff voting patterns, one on Contract Wizardry, one on executive director evaluations, and an Accounting Procedures Manual Template (now you don't have an excuse for not having one). Enjoy.

* If you'd like to attend a book party for my new Nolo Press book -- The Nonprofit's Guide to Human Resources -- and you'll be in San Francisco on November 15, please email Blue Avocado's project manager Susan Sanow at susan at blueavocado dot org and she'll send you an invitation.

* Changes for me and Blue Avocado: I am pleased to announce that I have accepted the job of CEO of the California Association of Nonprofits, starting in January 2012. I'm very happy that I'll be able to continue to publish Blue Avocado, although with fewer issues per year. I see my new job as an extension of working with the wonderful community of people that read and use Blue Avocado . . . we are the 99% of the nonprofit sector doing the heavy lifting on the ground in our communities. --Jan Masaoka

Comments (32)

  • Anonymous

    Congratulations, Jan, on your new position.

    Oct 18, 2011
  • Thank you, Jan. By the way, I am trying to get everyone I know to read Blue Avocado - it is the best non-profit reading out there. You should feel great about what you have created!

    Oct 18, 2011
  • I worked in the corporate world for about 35 years before retiring and becoming involved with non-profits. I find your newsletter to be invauable because it doesn't pull any punches and lets people tell their story the way they want to tell it. If you stir up the readership, that's good. It means they're reading and actually thinking about it and how it applies to their organization.

    The goal in the corporate world is to get people to think alike, to keep bad news on a need to know basis, and in that way discourage to opportunity to learn about and from other people's mistakes or just bad karma. Blue Avocado is a refreshing change. Keep it up.

    Oct 18, 2011
  • Anonymous

    Thanks so much for articulating the narrative about the 1% in non-profits. You put your finger on something that was nagging at me, as I reflect on my own work in light of the Occupy Wall Street movement and its implications.

    Oct 18, 2011
  • Anonymous

    Congratulations! Does this mean you have to move south, or will you bring CAN north?

    Oct 18, 2011
  • Thank you for your congratulations! The California Association of Nonprofits doesn't have a HQ office right now. We'll be opening an office in San Francisco, and maintaining a presence in Sacramento. Thanks for asking! Jan

    Oct 18, 2011
  • Jan, I agree with the earlier comments; this is the most thoughtful --and incidentally best written --non-profit resource I know. Your own comments always the highlight -- absolutely never canned information or sentiment. I am happy and relieved that you plan to go on publishing - thank you for all you've done, and for your intent to continue to do more. Jennifer

    Oct 18, 2011
  • Thank you, Jennifer. Your appreciation means a great deal to me. Thank you! Jan

    Oct 18, 2011
  • Anonymous

    All the best to you in your new position. I am relieved to hear that Blue Avocado will continue on, as it is a mainstay for my own work and that of so many others in the nonprofit sector. I don't know how we ever got along without it!

    Oct 18, 2011
  • Anonymous

    Jan - I echo the comments above. Congratulations on your new position, and thanks for planning to keep publishing Blue Avocado online. This is my favorite nonprofit resource (both from an information and platform perspective) and I, too, share the site with everyone I know. While I'm disappointed that the frequency of issues will decline, our loss is definitely CAN's gain. Thank you, again, for establishing this wonderful online community. Amy

    Oct 18, 2011
  • Anonymous

    Jan, congratulations on your new position! We're also thrilled that you'll still continue publishing blue avocado, and staying in San Francisco! Best wishes for your abundant success... Appreciatively, Michaela

    Oct 18, 2011
  • So glad you will maintain Blue Avocado as a vehicle for your collective experience, insights and knowledge. I appreciate the straight talk, fresh ideas and esprit de corps this newsltt brings. Congratulations to you in your new endeeavor... If anyone CAN you can! - many Thanks Siobhan

    Oct 18, 2011
  • I loved your take on the 99%. The whole thing gives one hope. I went and marched around the Bank of America Plaza in San Rafael and loved seeing so many people who weren't just the usual suspects.

    Oct 18, 2011
  • Very intrigued to see what you will do at CAN, Jan (oy, unfortunate phrasing there), and please let me know how I can be of help. Sad but resigned that there will be less Blue Avocado to feast on, but I'm glad it's not going away forever. Cynthia Freeman, Community Partners

    Oct 18, 2011
  • Congratulations, Jan. But I must comment on this piece. I am sad that you feel a need to join that group whose agenda includes pitting one group of people against another. After nearly forty-five years of work experience I have come to believe that the world never benefits by name-calling. The antagonist might benefit, but the world does not. I believe that we can project our message positively, without drawing broad brushstroke circles condemning those who might disagree with us. And, in the end, we are all in this together. Jim Siegmann

    Oct 19, 2011
  • Anonymous

    Jan, I also offer my sincere congratulations on your new position. But, I must agree with Jim. The name-calling and class warfare that is being generated is not only not productive it is wrong. There are many of us who work in the financial sector who are also hardworking and not greed obsessed. Naming banks and Wall Street as the bad actors is narrow and leaves out many other factors that have created this financial mailaise. There is plenty of blame to go around if you desire to play that game and it is blame that crosses all political and cultural spectrums. However, blaming only creates alienation and that is not what our country needs right now. I believe in dissent and therefore do not at all begrudge people exercising such that right. However, spewing hatred or meaness or vilifying the amorphous "rich" does nothing more in my opinion than create a cultrual divide that will be harder and harder to cross if we don't frame the message in a more constructive way.

    Oct 19, 2011
  • Jim, thank you for taking the time to make this comment, and thank you for signing your name. I am glad that people are disagreeing with these protests; at least we are talking with one another.

    I don't agree with everything about the protests, just like I didn't agree with so much of the way the war in Vietnam was protested. But I do value the expression of protest, and I agree with the core of the protest. I'm afraid that too often the people on the top argue against name-calling while behaving in ways that elicit that response. The boss always feels like things could be discussed while the subordinate may feel that it's been discussed a thousand times without any changes. Thanks again for writing.

    Oct 20, 2011
  • Anonymous

    Congratulations; Amen!

    Oct 19, 2011
  • Hi Jan, I just wanted to thank you for the latest issue of Blue Avocado that I just got yesterday. Two things in it, ED performance review and accounting manual are applicable to what I'm doing with a client right now. The piece on ED perf. review in particular is very sage, to the point and applicable to many groups. And I so appreciated your comment about Occupy Wall Street. I have a largely frustrated activist side, because I feel that everything I've done as an activist to date has been ineffective. "Playing nice" in a rigged game doesn't work. OWS is the population's last stand. The economy is no longer accountable to the vast majority of us, and this is absolutely relevant to the nonprofit sector because the premise that hard work results in good outcomes is now faulty. What we tell our clients, that if you do this with our help, you'll be successful, is either no longer true or in danger of not being true. And the basic infrastructure that nonprofits depend on for their business model to function isn't being sustained because of the fundamental disagreement about the American social compact. Anyway I do hope that the conversation about the silly congressional "super committee" will shift since without discussions of the revenue side all programs that depend on domestic discretionary spending will either disappear or be destroyed. The prospect of good programs pitted against other good programs is really, really distasteful. I get frustrated watching nonprofit interest groups (low income housing, for example) still in their old mold advocating for "no cuts to this valuable program", because I think that doesn't work anymore. We should instead band together, refuse to play the zero-sum game and advocate for a different paradigm. No cuts to effective programs that serve the poor and middle class, get out of the wars, cut defense and fund infrastructure and public transportation. Best, Kori

    Oct 19, 2011
  • Congratulations, Jan! Thank you for all your words of wisdom! They have helped me in so many situations as a board member! I appreciate your sharing your wisdom through Blue Avocado. I am so glad you will continue to publish. The California Non Profits have struck gold! I hope you enjoy your new job. Carolyn

    Oct 20, 2011
  • What nonsense! These youthful slackers camping out in our park are tremendously counterproductive. If anything, they are alienating the vast majority of us who work and take responsibility for our lives, families and actions. See two articles in our local media on the issue: http://articles.centermaryland.org/?p=3444 "The Wall Street occupiers are a disgrace, their actions are anathema to the Kennedy / King tradition and they need to recast their message in a civilized and constructive manner." Occupy Baltimore Memo Spurs Furor Could discourage victims from reporting [sexual] assaults Baltimore Sun http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-ci-occupy... Mark Counselman

    Oct 20, 2011
  • How exciting for you Jan. I don't know how I found Blue Avocado but have enjoyed it very much. I sent many of your articels to fellow board members at Northshore Preforming Arts Center Foundation. Thank you Leslie

    Oct 20, 2011
  • Love your comments on the "occupy" movement. "Something's happening here."

    Oct 20, 2011
  • Anonymous

    How wonderful for you and for the California Nonprofit community to have your leadership. I do hope that you can continue Blue Avocado. You have been a bright light in the field. Wishing you the very best, I recently found out that we have a connection through your sister in law Ann Gross. Ann and Chuck are dear friends and I do some collaborative work in the sector with Chuck. It is a small world indeed. Best of luck to you.

    Oct 21, 2011
  • Congratulations on your new position. The association is fortunate to have you. I'm so glad you're continuing with Blue Avocado. I so look forward to every edition. Paula Shoecraft

    Oct 21, 2011
  • Congratulations Jan on your new position!!! They are very fortunate to have you in their employ. Even though I no longer work in the non profit sector I always look forward to receiving Blue Avocado. I believe it to be one of the best non profit newsletters that I have read. I wish you much continued success in your new position and the future. Best, Jeanette Floyd

    Oct 21, 2011
  • Anonymous

    Congratulations Jan!

    Oct 26, 2011
  • Anonymous

    Great for California -- not great for Blue Avacado readers. :( Congratulations anyway on your new position!

    Oct 29, 2011
  • I would like to point out that if you work for a non-profit, you work for a corporation! So I am very worried what the "occupy" people are doing.

    Oct 31, 2011
  • Anonymous

    Great to hear you've joined the CAN team. Appreciate your insights, look forward to your leadership, and hope I can buy you a cup of coffee downtown sometime soon!

    Nov 02, 2011
  • Fabulous article, guys! Thanks for fighting the good fight! I too am the 99% =)

    Nov 04, 2011
  • Anonymous

    Great article. Thanks for this coverage.

    Nov 11, 2011

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