Thursday, December 22, 2011

Getting The Volunteer Equation Right

You can't please everybody. Legions of articles and books detail both the triumphal and disastrous experiences with volunteers. But overlooked are the potential great volunteers we lose becasue our internal management systems are not set up to treat volunteers as a rich resource. This piece from Blue Avocado highlights the frustrations some volunteers face when trying to give of themselves to organizations that are ill equipped to deal with people in a professional manner.

Key point in this piece:
 "Have you made sure that everyone who works with volunteers understands that the red tape and bureaucratic requirements are secondary to the primary objective of getting volunteers working productively? Have you checked to make sure that the way paperwork is presented is not a blockade that volunteers have to fight through?"

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dear Board Member: Focus upon these responsibilities and you'll do well...

Lots of talk these days about what the Second Mile Board of Directors didn't do in fulfilling basic legal responsibility for governing the organization.The failure was catastrophic for the organization. I constantly tell Boards to keep your eye on the essentials.....these nine elements constitute what a Governing Board should bring laser focus to in their work together...

1. Ensure The Mission Is Still Relevant
What is the purpose of our organization…our reason for being?

2. Set The Strategy
How will we pursue our mission?

3. Hire, Supervise And Fire  The Executive Director
How do we demand excellence from our staff?

4. Monitor Outcomes
Are we effective?

5.Secure Resources
Find the money, people and partners we need in order  to pursue the mission.

6.Provide Financial Oversight
Ensure the resources are efficiently used.

7.Ensure Legality
Conduct oversight so that our organization conducts all our affairs in an ethical and legal manner.

8.Enhance The Brand
Network our organization to the outside community.

9.Develop The Leadership
Provide for the recruitment, orientation, mentoring and professional development of our fellow Board Members.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Watch Out Penn Staters, The Worst Is Yet To Come

Hocus-pocus couldn't save Graham this time
Early November, after dispatching Joe Paterno and Graham Spanier, Penn State went into furious spin mode for damage control.  High priced lawyers and PR firms took up residence in Old Main.  Next came the public shoveling of hush money to sexual assault groups like PA Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) and Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN).  The alumni scrambled in fundraising efforts in order to out proclaim each other that “we care”.  Now, with events of the last few days,  the efforts by the university to limit the contagion look likely to fail.

Mike McQueary, the oft slammed underling who was the first known eyewitness to a Sandusky assault, went to the witness stand and described in detail what he saw in that shower back in 2002.   It was either anal sex or simulated anal sex.  On the receiving end of that little act was a boy of about 10.  While McQ didn’t share all the specific gory details with Paterno, the old coach confirms he learned enough to later tell Curley and Shultz it was definitely ‘something sexual’. 

Shultz: A Variant of the Walk Of Shame
No doubt now that Curley/Shultz later quizzed McQ what was meant by ‘something sexual’ don't get to rise that far up the academic bureaucracy without some pretty good skills at eliciting detailed information from subordinates.  So McQ would have explained that "something sexual" meant anal sex on a 10 year old…be it simulated or the real thing.   Curley/Shultz wiould not have sat on know they went straight to Spanier with this detailed information.  Spanier, in turn, had to have gone straight to a select few members of the Board Of Trustees?   Can there be any doubt that the University’s banning Sandusky from bringing kids into the shower was done after careful strategizing with legal counsel and select  Trustees?  So the knowledge of this goes straight to the top of PSU.

Curley does his own Walk Of Shame
Consider that pedophiles tend to associate with other pedophiles.  So when the AGs office came out and said Second Mile was “grooming” children could it be possible they were groomed for more than just Sandusky?  What if they were business partners or major donors of Penn State?   We have no evidence of such, but would any of you now be surprised if this came to pass?

There are deep Town/Gown relationships in Central Pennsylvania.  In this regard, Penn State is like any other university town…the business elite and the academic elite are bound in a tight web of social and financial networks.  On the Town side of the equation we now know two people had detailed information of  Sandusky’s behavior, John McQueary (Mike’s father) and Dr Jon Dranov.  These two are not just ‘community members’, they are major business players in Happy Valley at the very top of the food chain.  John McQueary and Dr Dranov travel in what passes for elite circles here. If those two knew, more knew.  It is likely that Sandusky was the topic of quiet chatter in the luxury boxes of Beaver Stadium, the golf course or any place else the powers that be met to hob nob.

Which brings us to those on the Second Mile Board of Directors.  A virtual who’s who of Centre County elite mixed in with several national names.  Second Mile Executive Director Jack Rakovitz confirmed Curley told him of the 2002 incident. One suspects Rakovitz shared that info with his wife Kathy Genovese, the Second Mile VP (both have since resigned).  It would be gross negligence of Rakovitz not to have also taken that information to the Board Executive Committee.  Which means we have an even larger group of community members fully aware of what's going on behind closed doors in Happy Valley.

What really goes on behind the closed doors of Happy Valley
Keep in mind that the only reason this all came to light is that Sandusky took his act outside the Penn State/Happy Valley orbit.  It was the Keystone School District in Clinton County (40 miles to the north) which finally made an official report after one of its kids was molested in the school.  One has the nagging sense that if it had occurred in the State College School District, a lot of people would have looked the other way.

In our criminal justice system, the prosecution has a lot of leverage in getting defendants to rat out their higher ups. In this case the AGs can go after the pension payout to Curley/Shultz.  Beyond the criminal penalties. that’s heavy incentive for the those two to cut a deal and start talking.   Don’t kid yourselves, as direct reports to the President’s office they traveled in the rarefied circles of Town and Gown. They know who was doing what.  If Curley/Shultz name names, the bodies will be flying all over the place.

McQueary’s testimony showed us one thing: he’s lawyered up and will not be made the fall guy in all this.  With that, the dominoes begin to fall.  The other players in this tangled web will soon begin to turn on each other.  It is then we'll get a look at how deep this went in Happy Valley.

So my Penn State friends expect things to get worse…….much, much worse.


Friday, December 09, 2011

What are the most valauble nonprofit brand names?

According to the PR/Marketing firm Cone Communications, the top 10 are
2. The Salvation Army
3. United Way of America
4. American Red Cross
5. Goodwill 
6. Catholic Charities
7. Habitat for Humanity
8. American Cancer Society
9. The Arc
10. Boys & Girls Clubs of America

Why does this matter?  Answer: Cause Marketing.  Nonprofits can leverage their brand and attract money from companies wishing to appear philanthropically motivated. All nonprofits have some Brand leverage.  Use it to generate exposure for the cause, and facilitate awareness and action.

Friday, December 02, 2011

The Rise of Alternative K-12 Schools and Alternative Teachers

Perhaps we're nearing the Tipping Point where the Berlin Wall of public K-12 finally comes crashing down.  As entrepreneurs on the internet find new and exciting ways to engage children, parents awaken to the possibilities of steering their children to an education which will help them be economically self-sufficent.  This is especially true of low-income and minority children, who get screwed in our current moribund system.

Alternative schools are booming. And now we see the rise of alternative teacher credentialing programs such as Teach For America. And like most entrepreneurial activities, Texas leads the way.  While some claim standards are low, what's really happening is the opening up of their teacher corps to professionals coming to the professional without having to spend 4 years and thousands of dollars in mind-numbing Colleges of Education.  In other words, real life subject expertise and a knowledge of how to transmit that expertise.

This nation has so many highly qualified people who could do great things in our classrooms, but the bureaucratic hoops created by government in conjunction with powerful special interests create a wasting asset.  Our kids need better.  Let's open up the teaching profession to the large pool of American talent.