Editor’s Note

Happy summer, Avocados!

While for many, the season represents outdoor barbeques and long vacations, we in the world of not-for-profit know that summer is no time for ease. Fiscal years may have just begun, and that means a whole new set of strategic goals to get underway. As we learned from our last issue, having a good strategic plan can help with this process, but there's still lots of work to do.

Editor's Note

Welcome to the latest Blue Avocado! As a longtime reader, I'm thrilled to be serving as guest editor. I know that I've often used Blue Avocado as a resource, a reminder, and a refuge during those stressful nonprofit emergencies, and I'm happy to present an issue that can be the same for you.

Steady Advice for Changing Times

Hello Avocados!

April is here and we have a new issue just for you that's all about change. Change is exciting! Change is scary. We have articles this month that provide a little stability.

How do you keep a firm financial footing as a nonprofit? Strong leaders have options when it comes to getting loans and funds to help cover operating costs. If you go the traditional route, we have a helpful article on working with your banker. If that doesn't work or isn't appropriate, we have an article on a new lending program which only serves nonprofits. Worried about federal funding cuts? Take the Blue Avocado survey and we'll share the results next issue.

On top of ALL that, we have a terrific article on resilient leadership and an equally great essay on facing new challenges. Next month, we welcome our new editor, so tell us what you want to see, what's happening in your organization and how Blue Avocado can help! We're always listening at editor@blueavocado.org.

What kind of avocado do you want to see?

As we get ready to welcome our new guest editor, we want to hear from you! What kind of avocado do you want to see?

Let's face it, sometimes running a nonprofit can feel about as easy as folding a fitted sheet, but here at Blue Avocado, we want to help. For years now, we have been a practical and straightforward source for information related to running a community nonprofit, and now we're moving forward into our next iteration. We're so thrilled that you're still with us as we continue to grow, and we want you to be a part of the process.

What Will You Accomplish This Year?

Everyone else was getting ready to ring in the New Year, but you were in the office. Checking email on your phone. Making a final post office run to pick up mailed checks. Those and a million other invisible things we do at nonprofits are what make year-end campaigns a success. When others count down to midnight, we count up -- our donations!

But that also means we need an special jolt of energy come January, and this issue of Blue Avocado delivers. Discover an interview with one of the true visionaries in the field, practical advice for all of you living in newly 420-friendly states, engaging stories of personal growth and what Blue Avocado readers think about the financial outlook for 2017. It's all full of get-up-and-go goodness.

Happy 2017!

Avocados Are Always In Season!

We considered offering up a Pumpkin Spice Avocado this month, but thought better of it. We'll leave peak Pumpkin Spice to the coffee and pastry purveyors of this world and focus on what we do best: practical provocative and fun food-for-thought for nonprofits.

Want to stage a show about office politics? We've got the characters to cast. Want to play your board like a crime procedural? We'll push the kibosh on that idea. Want to.. Well you get the idea. This issue is all original and all about terrific, from-the-trenches advice about the questions, big and small, we face working at nonprofits.

It sure is good to be back with all of you!

P.S. We're looking for contributors for the next issue. Want to write for Blue Avocado? Take a look at our contributor guidelines then drop us an email at editor@blueavocado.org!

Publisher’s Note

Our mission at American Nonprofits, where the two of us serve on the board, is to strengthen the financial health of nonprofit organizations. Over the last twelve months, the board has been working through changes in leadership and operating models and gathering information about what Blue Avocado means to you, our readers. Today we are pleased to begin offering the benefits of that work with a new issue of Blue Avocado, featuring two terrific new articles and some of our favorite pieces from the archives.

Every two months, a new issue will be published. Each issue will bring you new perspectives and interesting conversations about the issues facing our sector. Popular columns like "Ask Rita" are here to stay, but we hope you will keep us on our toes and tell us when we hit the right notes and when we don't. And we're on the hunt for writers. We can help you shape your idea and make your words shine. Email editor@blueavocado.org.

Avocados are Back -- Hi!

I don't know about you, but it's been a long time since we had some Blue Guacamole. Susan Sanow and I have had a lovely sabbatical and we're also very happy to be back. Break open that bag of chips and a couple of beers for us, too?  :)  This issue:

  • A Tiger Escaped Today . . . and I'm on the Zoo Board: First Person Nonprofit
  • Everything We've Been Taught About Major Gifts is Wrong by Jan Masaoka
  • Why Don't Foundations Build Capacity in Fundraising? by Aaron Dorman
  • Ask Rita: Can We Fire Someone for What They Said in Personal Email? by Pamela Fyfe
  • Nine Nonprofit Trends that Need to Die by Vu Le

 You might notice our new look, too. The changes are minor but they allow Blue Avocado to look better on those electronic devices that didn't exist when we started in 2008. And please: let us know what you're up to! -- Jan Masaoka

Blue Avocado celebrates 100th issue… editor notes

Yup, this is the 100th issue of Blue Avocado. As you know, we're an online magazine -- where each issue has 5 - 8 articles -- rather than a blog with many short posts. We're very proud of our unique mix:

  • At least one thought-provoking (probably contrarian or investigative) article
  • At least one exceedingly practical, unconventionally wise "how to" article
  • At least one really fun article

We believe that our confidence in community nonprofits, our celebration of nonprofit values and culture, and our sassy, cranky voice sets us apart from some of the internet noise.

We are especially proud of our First Person Nonprofit series, which has included articles from board chairs who discovered embezzlement to founders who got fired to people who love their telemarketing jobs.

We are so grateful to:

  • All of you: 64,000 Blue Avocado subscribers
  • Advertisers, sponsors (especially Pamela Davis and the Nonprofits Insurance Alliance Group!), and reprinters
  • Hundreds of individual donors
  • Great writers such as Vu Le, Steve Zimmerman, Rick Cohen, Kim Klein, and the Ask Rita team
  • Readers who comment on so many aricles enriching the content for everyone.

Our behind-the-scenes team includes graphic designer and webmaster Patrick Santana, copy editor Cristina Chan, the fiscal sponsorship of the Nonprofits Insurance Alliance Group, and our jill-of-all-trades with a nonprofit heart as big as all outdoors, Susan Sanow.

Here's the news: Blue Avocado is taking a sabbatical. We'll be back in the spring with a new look and a new spring in our step. We've been going without a break since April 2008 and we need to take a nap. In a few weeks we'll replace this issue on the web with a list of our most read and highest impact articles in various categories.

But first! In this issue you'll find a First Person Nonprofit story: "From Black Panther to Nonprofit CFO," along with Ask Rita on outdated job descriptions, "Unraveling the Elements of 'Impact,'" humor from the esteemed Vu Le, and two Board Cafe articles: one on the "Very Good but Very Flawed Executive," and one a short humor piece.

See you in the spring! --Jan Masaoka (that's my photo from our first issue) & the Blue Avocado team

97, 98 , 99 . . . Editor notes issue #99

Amazingly, this is the 99th issue of Blue Avocado. Hurrah! It's an honor to produce something that so many people enjoy . . . we can hardly believe there are 64,000 of you subscribers!

The most common question we get: where did the name come from? So as we approach our 100th issue, we'd like to tell you.

A long long time ago in 2008, we (the Blue Avocado Steering Committee and me) came up with two potential names for this new online magazine. We asked focus groups around the country to weigh in on them. Most of the focus groups split 50/50.

When this data was presented to the Steering Committee, I expected them to pick one of them. Instead, they said (very insightfully) that these results indicated that neither name was very good. We all wanted something that would stand out from the crowd. After a couple of hours of brainstorming and pondering, when Nelson Layag of CompassPoint suddenly shouted, "Blue Avocado!" it just felt right.

Then we retrofitted a "lore" . . . that blue avocados were a sacred fruit of the Maya, lost in the Conquest. But a few seeds were hidden . . . you get the idea. But too many people believed us and sent notes asking for seeds! So now you all know the true, odd story.

Blue Avocado is its own true, odd story of course, and one aspect of the nonprofit sector we celebrate is all of our true, odd stories. How does a group of people running around the forest become a tribe? By sitting around the campfire and telling our stories to one another.

But as you know, blue avocados don't grow on trees. We need your financial help. We're like public television: free to watch, but we ask for your support. In our next issue, we'd like to thank everyone in the next issue who makes a donation from $5 to $5,000 before then, and we'll publish as many anniversary messages as we can as well. Please consider joining our tribe by donating here and sending your message here.

* In this issue we have a First Person Nonprofit story by a consultant-turned ED who learns why consultants never fail, a comprehensive guide to the legal and accounting aspects of auctions, a Board Member's Guide to Nonprofit Overhead, and to lighten things up, a great piece by our humor columnist Vu Le. Enjoy! -- Jan Masaoka

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