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February 2009 Archives

A colleague and friend of mine is currently nursing a parent through what is canning.jpgprobably the final illness. As often happens in these situations, my friend has spent a lot of time talking with her parent about the past, about shared experiences, and what life was like for earlier generations of Americans. I was struck by the fact that my friend's parent liked to reminisce about life during the Great Depression - not to recount tales of horror and deprivation, but in a positive way. "People were just decent to each other then," this older person remembers.

Now, I don't believe that anyone longs to be hungry, impoverished, or anxious, but I can definitely see what my friend's parent means about decency. The past six months have seen the media shrilly panicked about The Global Financial Crisis, and I know many individuals and nonprofit organizations are really hurting. I myself am a statistic of the New Economy. However, I've gone from being panicked to realistic: we will all be making do with less. And I've also seen heartwarming instances of people helping each other out. Families are being brought closer; the stigma of joblessness is gone, and nonprofits are not somehow miraculous expected to buck all the major economic trends to turn in stellar financial performance under any circumstance. 

We're also rediscovering "lost" skills. Apparently there is great new interest in things like canning, knitting, and do-it-yourself repairs. I've even taken up sewing, and if you know me you'll know that that's a major accomplishment. It's a very old adage that necessity is the mother of invention, but I'm seeing organizations thinking more creatively about sustainability and yes, survival than they have in years.

What is your nonprofit doing these days? How are you reacting to the New Economy? Are you feeling positive or discouraged? I'd love to hear from you.

The Best Laid Plans

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plancycle.gifMice, men, and bloggers seem to share a characteristic: we make plans that may or may not happen. I extend my apologies to my readers that I didn't have anything new up last Friday.

I spent last week recuperating from a severe neck strain that landed me in the ER for an evening and resulted in some pretty heavy medication for several days. I needed to meet some deadlines before the end of the week, so Friday morning came and went without a post. But as much as I wish I could do it all, I just can't, at least not all the time.

It occurred to me that that's true for all of us as individuals and institutions. Sometimes we just have to slow down, detour from, or hold off on plans that we've made in order to accommodate new circumstances. (I can imagine many of you thinking right now, "Well, duh, that's what the past six months have been about!") In some cases I can think of, varying from an original plan turned out to be the wisest and best idea for me personally and for some of the institutions I've worked with.

Now, I'm all for planning. It's what I do for a living after all. Planning leads to intentional outcomes, and that's a good thing. The best plans are the ones that can be firm enough to provide guidance and flexible enough to allow for change. Plans are by nature never complete, and never reflect reality absolutely. They are visions of a reality that you are trying to achieve. If you are dedicated to the planning goal, you will achieve the objective, but you may not get there in exactly the way you thought you might.

So, I ended up posting on Sunday night instead of Friday morning. Hey, this way you have something to read with your start-of-the-work-week coffee. See, things have a way of working out in the end.








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