Avocados Are Always In Season!

By Pamela Davis, President, and Andrew Hastings, Chairman Board of Directors, American Nonprofits

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!


Ask Rita in HR: How Do I Stay ADA Compliant When an Employee Has a Disability?

By Ellen Aldridge, J.D.

Dear Rita in HR: One of our employees recently disclosed a medical condition that limits his ability to perform some of his duties. His manager wanted to fire him because he can no longer perform his job, but I don't think we can do that. I handle accounting and HR for our nonprofit and don't know a lot about employment law, but I do know that employees with disabilities have legal rights. What should our nonprofit do to comply with the law?

Signed, X


Gearing Up and (Teaming Up) for a Leadership Transition

By Susan M. Poglinco, PhD and Priscilla Rosenwald, MS

Some of the hardest moments we face as nonprofit professionals happen during leadership transitions. That's why it's so great that Susan Poglinco and Priscilla Rosenwald took the time to very honestly chronicle for Blue Avocado the challenges - both expected and unanticipated - they ran into during one such transition at a charter school in the northeast. It's a fresh reminder for me that nothing is ever as neat as it looks on the surface.


Is Your Nonprofit Ready for a Capital Project?

By Kate Stephenson, HELM Construction Solutions


I have an almost-two-year old who just discovered Mega Blocks and how to stack them as tall as possible before they fall. That usually leads to some two-way negotiation about where the next block should go, to avoid a cascade of blocks and tears. (Sometimes the game is to build it high and knock it down, but that's a Blue Avocado article for another day!)

Here's where I tell you that nonprofit construction projects are something like negotiating with a toddler still practicing his stacking.

Fortunately, a real expert is here to move us from an awkward metaphor to some practical tips because a capital project - maybe you've outgrown your space or had a piece of land gifted to you from a donor - can be an incredible opportunity. But only if you are prepared. Kate Stephenson is a partner at HELM Construction Solutions in Montpelier, Vermont, and former nonprofit executive director herself. Here are her field-tested tips for your next capital undertaking:


Financial Prospects for Nonprofits: How Does Your Nonprofit Rate?

By Editor

Blue Avocado bubbles with insight because you, our readers and our writers, are astonishingly smart. We've heard great ideas from you along with suggestions for how we can be even more relevant with what we publish here on the site, so this issue we're doing something new.

Starting with this issue of Blue Avocado we're including a poll. Please take a minute to let us know what's happening where you are, and you'll see the aggregate results in the next issue, along with content that takes your responses head-on. (Responses are all anonymous.)

Take the Poll!


Rewrite the Script When These Characters Show Up in Workplace Politics

By Allison Fuller

At some point, each of us joined the nonprofit sector as a starry-eyed idealist. Take a second now and channel that spirit: you were ready for a change, you were ready for action and you were determined, resourceful and optimistic. And why shouldn't you have been? You were going to change the world. In fact, you have. But somewhere along the way came that moment of disillusionment when you realized that wonderful intentions don't always equal harmony, much less success. In fact, nonprofit organizations can be just as political (if not more so!) than their for-profit counterparts. But just like their for-profit counterparts, a toxic workplace can cost time, money and hurt service delivery.


Notes from the Chairman

Drew Hastings, Volunteer Chairman, American Nonprofits
Drew Hastings
Volunteer Chairman
American Nonprofits

Dear Colleagues:

I’m pleased to write with news of significant developments at American Nonprofits. As many of you know, our organization was established in 2012 with the broad mission to develop programs for supporting the rapidly evolving finance and capitalization needs of the nonprofit sector.

Our first approach to addressing this mission was to explore the creation of a national nonprofit credit union. We undertook two years of intensive research and development work with the membership of the Nonprofits Insurance Alliance of California (NIAC). In conjunction with this R&D effort, we acquired the online media project Blue Avocado in 2012, led by Jan Masaoka, as a means to help us define our...

Join the Discussion

American Nonprofits was formed by a group of nonprofit sector leaders to serve as a platform to address issues of finance, credit, strategy and accountability. As a membership organization that welcomes both nonprofit organizations and individuals, we occupy the intersection of finance and strategy. We are a platform through which members can convene local and national discussions, initiate solutions, and collectively improve nonprofit finance (e.g. the credit union project below).
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American Nonprofits Federal Credit Union

Do you think nonprofits deserve fair access to credit and loans?
Do you want to discuss and improve nonprofit strategy and finance?
Does it annoy you that big banks make profits from nonprofit customers without offering appropriate credit?

> Read More.

To view the draft business plan for the proposed credit union: Draft Business Plan

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The work to found American Nonprofits as well as assist with the research into the credit union is possible thanks to a $100,000 grant from Nonprofits Insurance Alliance Group, and an initial $25,000 grant from the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation. The Silicon Valley Community Foundation also made a $50,000 grant to forward this work.


Check out this recent Article about us in the Silicon Valley Business Journal

Check out the Article about us in the San Francisco Business Times

Check out the Article about us in the Chronicle of Philanthropy