Archive for April 13th, 2012

April 13, 2012

Use the Right Tool for the Job

If my father were still alive, he would have celebrated his 89th birthday this week. Though he passed 15 years ago, I still miss him. And, I still remember the many lessons he taught me.

My dad was good with his hands. He had a well-equipped workshop where he built all sorts of things. One of the many lessons he shared with me is:

Always use the right tool for the job.”

In other words, if you need to pound a nail into a board, don’t use the handle of a screw-driver; use a hammer.

You get the idea.

It’s a simple concept. It’s really just common sense. Sadly, however, I speak with many nonprofit professionals who haven’t embraced this concept.

For example, I recently spoke with the head of a nonprofit organization who had received a rather large donation for a special project. To implement the project, the organization was required to raise additional support. Unfortunately, the organization was unable to raise the needed funds and, therefore, it could not move forward with the project. The organization faced the prospect of having to return the gift to the donor.

When I discussed the options with the head of the organization, he told me that the group’s lawyer had provided advice. From what was shared with me, it was pretty clear that the attorney was not a nonprofit law specialist. I could see that his initial advice suffered from his lack of expertise. While the lawyer may be a perfectly fine corporate or real estate attorney, he did not have the experience to deal with the complex issues at hand, both legal and ethical.

I’ve seen this time after time. Nonprofit managers assume that any lawyer can competently answer any legal question. But, if you had a sore throat, you would not go to a cardiologist. Instead, you’d go to your family doctor or an ear, nose, and throat specialist. So, why wouldn’t you go to the appropriate legal specialist to answer your questions?

read more »

%d bloggers like this: