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Friday Five: June 24, 2016

Dance like there's no tomorrow. Or maybe don't.

Happy June 24th! We’re dancing for joy that it’s Friday.

On this day in 1374, a sudden outbreak of St. John's Dance caused people in the streets of Aachen, Germany, to experience hallucinations and begin to jump and twitch uncontrollably until they collapsed from exhaustion. In some cases, people suffered from cardiac arrest or died from injuries.

We would like to revise and amend our opening paragraph: we are… sitting with joy that it’s Friday. Calmly.

Here are five must-reads (one of them is actually a must-watch) from and about the nonprofit world:

1) Osocio is a central online hub dedicated to social advertising, defined as advertising from nonprofit organizations that seeks to connect us with other human beings. The embedded video from Agency Jung von Matt/Limmat AG does a great job of visualizing what it’s like to live with fear and significant anxiety. Anxiety is an ‘invisible’ illness, and the two agencies are doing important work to illustrate that people may be dealing with burdens and challenges we know nothing about and encouraging us to think more broadly about mental health:

Learn more about Osocio here:

2) Can spreadsheets really get you fired? If they’re combined with hubris and overconfidence, absolutely. Brian Lauterbach at Network for Good digs into his own past so that you can learn from his mistakes and avoid a similar fate:

3) If you’re a board member who’s wondering how to lean in towards board activity or looking for ways to make your nonprofit better, this blog has some great suggestions for you—everything from learning staff members’ names to insisting to the executive director that “Yes, it is totally acceptable for you to buy a better chair so you won’t be suffering from constant back pain.” Read all about it:

(There’s also a great link in the 25 Awesome Things article to another article on why the Oxford Comma is so essential. #OxfordCommaForever! )

4) Culture, culture, culture. The disastrous collapse of the Healing Arts Initiative, a New York City-based nonprofit that made arts accessible to isolated and marginalized people, should remind everyone that even if you’ve got a badass executive director who can ferret out corruption like a private eye, it’s all for nothing if you don’t have the right culture in place:

5) Shane Bauer (the American journalist who spent two years in prison in Iran) worked with The Mother Jones Investigative Fund to go undercover as a U.S. prison guard at a privately-run (vs. government-run) prison in Louisiana to expose the prison industrial complex. Bauer’s article is thorough, phenomenal and deeply disconcerting:

This has been the Friday Five. Join us next week for help staying on top of pertinent nonprofit articles, topics , and insights, and remember to contact us (link to if you have any questions about your own nonprofit or board!



Friday Five: May 6, 2016

Happy Friday! We can confirm the old saying that April flowers bring May showers because today, it’s raining. Or is it sprinkling? [1]

1) Our first book recommendation to crack the Friday Five is Adam Grant’s Give and Take, a tremendously heartening read for anyone involved with philanthropy or volunteering. Grant is the youngest tenured professor at Wharton Business School in its history, and one can clearly see why in his insightful, thoughtful prose.

Give and Take identifies three different types of people — givers, matchers, and takers — and makes a firm, evidence-based case that being a giver can be beneficial to your career and life… as long as you’re giving without expectation of a direct benefit and making sure to take care of yourself.

About the only complaint one can make about Give and Take is that it follows the familiar Malcolm Gladwell formula of blending anecdotes (complete with twist endings) data and pop psychology to a T. That being said, there’s bad ersatz Gladwell and good ersatz Gladwell; Give and Take falls firmly into the latter category:                 0026555/1-12

2) ICYMI: Gene Takagi’s rundown on everything wrong with California Assembly Bill 2855, and how to stop it:

Our signal boost for AB2855 opposition is here:

3) Beth was interviewed by Urban Wealth Management, which is hosting a great series of discussions with leaders in the world of philanthropy. Learn exactly why it’s so important for nonprofits to “think private, act public”:

4) Applying for a job? Nonprofits with Balls, a blog worth following has a nonprofit-specific list of things not to do. # 1: Don’t use the font Comic Sans. [Ed: People actually use that font? How? WHY??] A more surprising and counterintuitive tip is that you should take notes during the job interview.

5) Roz Lemieux, the CEO of Attentively and founding partner at Fission Strategy, has a guest post at Beth Kanter’s blog on how nonprofits can best use social media. She talks in detail about the importance of “social listening," i.e., paying attention to what your followers are saying on the various online platforms. Since Beth literally wrote the book(s) on how nonprofits should best use social media, this is a blog entry you don’t want to miss:

That’s all for this week. Join us next week for your updates on what's new in the nonprofit world!

[1] Disclaimer: Accuracy compels us to acknowledge that as of press time, it is not yet raining in LA, but it’s raining somewhere.



AB2855 is a very bad bill for nonprofits.


Zombie bill AB2855 in the California assembly refuses to die, despite its potential to cause an outbreak of unnecessary costs and burdens.

The indispensible Gene Takagi has a thorough analysis and roundup of the opposition here :

Short version:  AB2855, proposed by Democratic assembly member Jim Frazier (D-Oakley), just survived a committee vote to advance to the full California Assembly. If the bill becomes law, it will require each and every nonprofit that fundraises in California to add a so-called ‘warning label’ to any fundraising or fundraising-related document that it distributes linking back to the CA Attorney General’s website. This may not sound like a big deal, but think about how many fundraising documents nonprofits put out, and the burden of updating each one. Calnonprofits has a short, incomplete list:

“…[S]igns on coin collection jars, private letters to individual donors, billboards and other large-scale outdoor advertisements, flyers posted in laundromats, neighborhood association newsletters, to name just a few.”

Furthermore, there are no controls in place as to what could be on the Attorney General’s site. As Tim Delaney, chief executive of the National Council of Nonprofits, notes: “Such legislative  language puts nonprofits at the mercy of an elected partisan’s changing views on what’s “appropriate” on such things as overhead, compensation, and advocacy – as well as which charitable causes are worthy.” [emphasis ours]

Worse yet, there are serious Constitutional issues around AB2855; the potential lack of compelling governmental interest poses a serious freedom of speech question. But that does not mean that we can rely on state or federal courts to halt the bill before it becomes law.  

Finally, there is absolutely no need for this bill. Nonprofits are already carefully regulated by the Federal Government, the IRS and the California state government. This bill will impose an expensive and pointless burden on every California nonprofit of every political stripe.

It’s important to note that Gene Takagi almost always uses measured, neutral language to describe events. Pay attention to how he describes this bill:

AB 2855 is a dangerous bill that threatens nonprofits raising funds in California and reflects several Assemblymembers’ lack of understanding of the nonprofit sector’s work… If this bill passes, it will rank among the worst laws in the country in its characterization and treatment of nonprofits.” [emphasis ours]

Dangerous. Among the worst in the country.

Bergman and Allderdice rarely recommends direct legislative action, but this is a nonpartisan issue that will affect every nonprofit in California if it’s passed.

Please take the time to review Gene’s analysis . If you agree with it and live in California, take ten minutes to do the following:

1)  Call Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, chair of the appropriations committee  at (916) 319-2080 to let her know you oppose AB2855 because it will harm nonprofits; and

2) Contact your own Assembly Member with the same message. Click here ( to find out how to contact your Assembly Member.

With your help, we can stop this burdensome, unnecessary, and dangerous bill before it gets any further.