Monthly Archives: September 2015

Don’t shoot the questioner

logoGovernment agencies and nonprofits HATE my questions on social media. I ask them publicly because, often, I don’t get a response via email – or because I want my exchange with the organization to be public. Questions like:

  • Where is the list on your web site of your board of directors?
  • Where is the bio on your web site of your executive director/program director, etc.?
  • Where is your latest annual report of finances (income and expenditures) on your web site?
  • I saw your quote in the newspaper, and wondered: where is the evaluation that says your program lead to a 30% drop in juvenile crime? Is there a link on your web site to this study?
  • You have a form on your web site for people who want to volunteer to fill out/an email address for people that want to volunteer, but you never say what volunteers actually do. What do volunteers at your organization do?

Responses, if they come at all, rarely thank me for pointing out missing information on the web site, or apologize for not having such. Rather, most responses are one of these:

  • We’re not required by law to provide that. 
  • Our web site is being redesigned. It will be a part of the new web site. (no date is provided on when the web site will be re-launched)
  • That information is confidential. 
  • That information is on our web site (with no link to where it is).
  • Why are you asking?

I admit that I sometimes ask a question because I’m annoyed that the organization isn’t being transparent, or because a newspaper reporter wrote a glowing story I read about the organization or program didn’t ask these questions – just took every quote from the representative as fact. But I also ask the questions because I’ve sometimes considered donating to an organization, or volunteering with such – and I’m then stunned at the lack of transparency.

None of these questions should bother any organization or agency. None. They are all legitimate questions. Often, they are questions you yourself invite, by talking at civic groups or in the press about the quality of your leadership, the impact your organization is having, the services your organization provides and your value to the community.

If you say you don’t have time to provide this basic information on your web site, one has to ask: what is it that you are spending your time on?

Also see:

Use Tech to Show Your Accountability and To Teach Others About the Nonprofit Sector!
Mission-Based groups are under growing scrutiny. What you put on your web site can help counter the onslaught of “news” stories regarding mission-based organizations and how they spent charitable contributions.

tips for fund-raising for NGOs serving the developing world

fundhuntingSome of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) to online forums for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in developing countries, no matter what the subject of the forum is supposed to be (urban disasters, HIV/AIDS, maternal health, water and sanitation) , are regarding funding.

In 2004, frustrated at seeing fundraising questions from NGOs over and over and over again, and no INGOs nor UN agencies trying to answer them, I drafted a short list of basic tips for fund-raising for NGOs serving the developing world. I was an online volunteer with the Aid Workers Network then (the organization is long gone, unfortunately). Several other AWN volunteers revised the draft, and we finalized and published a version online for the AWN community. But I kept updating the document, and it grew from 15 pages to 30.

I have no idea how many people accessed the document. I tried to track it through various means, but was never successful.

I have updated the document for the first time since 2011, and instead of asking people to write me for it, so I could get an idea of how many people accessed it, I now have it ready for download from my web site. It’s now 29 pages.

But the big news is that I’ve updated it for the last time. I’m not updating it anymore.

Most of the information is timeless; the web sites in the document will change over time, the organizations cited will come and go, but the basic advice will always be valid, I hope. Also, there are so many more resources now to help NGOs with fundraising than there were 10 years ago, as any search on Google will show – this document isn’t filling an information gap like it was when it was first drafted and published.

Some things that have been surprising in the decade I’ve maintained this document, some of which are also reasons I will no longer be updating this document:

  • I have regularly gotten funding solicitations via email from NGOs in the developing world because they’ve done exactly what this document says NOT to do: they’ve found my name in association with fundraising and sent me a grant proposal, unsolicited, despite the obvious fact that I am NOT a foundation. The emails aren’t even addressed to me by name; they are often addressed to “sir”, or they have 10 other emails listed in the “to” bar.
  • I make it clear that this document is for NGOs serving the developing world, yet I frequently get requests for it from nonprofits in the USA. Sure, some of the advice is universal for mission-based organizations, but the document talks about funding sources that are available only to organizations working in, say, Africa or the poorest parts of Asia and South America, sources that are NOT available to organizations in North America.
  • Several people and organizations have posted the document to their web sites without my permission, despite me asking on my web site and in the document for this not to be done. When I’ve written to ask them to remove it – they often are posting an old version, not the latest – they say they had no idea I wouldn’t allow the document to be posted. Which means they didn’t bother to read even the first two pages, or, they just don’t care.
  • Several people and organizations have passed this document off as their own. That hurts most of all. All I’ve asked in return for this document is credit for it – I have never asked for payment. For someone to go through it and take my name off of it and then publish it as their own, including people from at least two NGOs – it’s shameful. It’s disheartening. It contributes to a negative image of NGOs working in and for the developing world.
  • I’ve never received follow up from anyone saying how they have used the document. Has it been helpful? Did it result in funding? I’ll never know.

I sound bitter. Sorry. I’m frustrated that a decade-long effort didn’t seem to do any good. If this document does make a difference for your NGO, I hope you will tell me.

Also see:

Survival Strategies for Nonprofits , a guide for nonprofits facing critical budget shortfalls.

Get to know the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

2015-07-21-SDGsGoodbye, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), hello, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs are the 17 goals towards which all United Nations efforts will now work, and the UN will encourage all NGOs and governments to work towards them as well, to make our world a better place. Like the MDGs before, the SDGs will help UN initiatives better focus its work across various agencies, various partnerships, and various regions.

I congratulate my United Nations colleagues, especially those at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) , who have been working on drafting these. I encourage you, if you work in addressing any of the areas mentioned by the SDGs, or you want to work in international development, to become familiar with these, and to start referencing them in your work.

The MDGs were introduced in 2000. I began at the UN in February 2001, and I found the MDGs incredibly helpful in approaching my work, in making it more focused. In my opinion, the MDGs did an excellent job of focusing the work of the UN, various NGOs and governments, providing a framework for all of our initiatives. The MDGs are simple, with goals with which no one would disagree, for the most part. The MDGs are “an explicit recognition of the reality that a large proportion of people in the world were deprived and poor.” The MDGs sought a time-bound reduction in poverty to improve the living conditions of those deprived and excluded, and it was an attempt to place this persistent problem, until then a largely national concern, on the development agenda for international cooperation.1 The MDGs specified a destination but, purposely, did not chart the journey, so that each country – indeed, each community – could develop its own way of reaching the goals.

But, as we all knew it would, the world has changed significantly since the MDGs were created in 2000. Notions of developed and developing have continued to evolve. Now, international development is less about the transfer of aid from rich to poor countries and more about progressive change from within, and empowering those local agents of change. The world has always been interconnected, but challenges and opportunities seem to happen so much more quickly now, across borders, requiring incredibly rapid responses. The MDGs were always meant to be replaced as the world evolved, and now they have. No, we didn’t reach the MDGs by 2015, but we did better target our work towards the world’s most poor.

The MDGs made no mention of human rights and did not specifically address economic development; the SDGs correct this. The SDGs apply to all countries, rich and poor alike, and the UN conducted the largest consultation in its history to gauge opinion on what the SDGs should include. I’ve read several comments that say the SDG framework brings together the different aspects of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental – in a much more integrated way than the MDGs, but I haven’t read any specific examples of that, or seen any illustrations of this yet.

The deadline for the SDGS is 2030. Will we reach the goals by then? Probably not. But we will make progress towards them, if we have the will to do so. Are the SDGs perfect? No. But there better than what we had, and better than nothing. I often think the arguments against the SDGs, like the MDGs, keep us from activities that the world desperately needs.


1. “The MDGs after 2015: Some reflections on the possibilities,” by Deepak Nayyar, for the UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda, April 2012

Wearables for Good Challenge by UNICEF

The Apple Watch, the Fitbit, Google Glass and many other wearable tech are luxuries for tech-savvy consumers. But could wearable tech be used for diagnosing deadly diseases, monitoring pregnant mothers’ health, tracking air quality, alerting people with “push notifications” or warning of an earthquake’s early vibrations?

UNICEF, in partnership with the microprocessor company ARM and the design firm Frog, is hosting the Wearables for Good Challenge. Blair Palmer, innovation lab lead at UNICEF, says in this summary story from DevEx that UNICEF’s interest in convening the challenge is to “ask these questions and provoke the industry and people to think differently on a global level and not just have these things come out of Silicon Valley. The wearables challenge seeks applications that can provide low-power, unintrusive, highly durable solutions in low-income settings, and many sensor technologies fit that bill. Close to 1 billion more people are expected to come online by 2017, and UNICEF is taking note, Palmer said.

The challenge is now closed to applications. The challenge has garnered 250 submissions from 46 countries across 6 continents, with nearly 2000 registrations from 65 countries. 10 finalists have been selected. Each finalist will then be assigned to work with 1-2 coaches during 2 calendar weeks (10-28 September). Coaches will provide feedback to finalists in order to help hone their ideas for final submission. The challenge partners will award $15,000 to two winning proposals for wearable and sensor products with social impact potential. The winners will be announced by November 2015.

A summary of the finalists:

Communic-AID: A wearable device that facilitates record keeping, aids in the tracking of medications that have been distributed in a post-disaster context and allows the patient to take part in their treatment.

Droplet: a wearable water purification device in the form of a bracelet, to make safe drinking water available to everyone

GuardBand: a system that helps protect children from abuse and observes their health.

Khushi Baby: a wearable platform to bridge the world’s immunization gap is a system for tracking vaccination and mobilization in the last mile.

Raksh: named after the Sanskrit word “safeguard,” this is a low cost (25$) bluetooth-based, ear-worn multi-parameter monitoring platform.

SoaPen: a wearable and portable soap re-designed to encourage hand washing amongst young children to reduce the risk of catching and spreading disease thereby increasing their lifespan.

teleScrypts: seeks to solve the challenge of providing health care workers with advanced healthcare technology in low resource communities at a low cost.

TermoTell: a real time temperature monitor and alert system, designed to save the lives of children under five at risk of Malaria.

Totem Open Health: an open platform and ecosystem for wearable health technology, including: sensors, data collection, storage, sharing, analysis and algorithmic interpretation.

WAAA!: Wearable, Anytime, Anywhere, Apgar is a mobile phone, text-based surveillance service that systematically transmits live APGAR data via soft patch sensors located on a newborn baby.

Follow #WEARABLESFORGOOD and @UNICEFinnovate on Twitter for updates about this and other similar campaigns.

Tracking distributed volunteers (& their distributed managers)

In the last two months, I’ve gotten the same request from two different organizations. I know how I would advise them entirely on my own, but I wanted to open this up to crowdsourcing.

Each of these organizations is based on just one region (they aren’t national), but have different work sites across the city/county. These work sites are sometimes offices, sometimes a garden, sometimes a farmer’s market, sometimes an airplane hanger… diverse! Each is well-established and growing, attracting lots of volunteers, from very diverse demographics. Their work is exciting, and their work cultures feel dynamic and fun, so they don’t have problems recruiting, nor retaining, volunteers – people REALLY want to be associated with these orgs because of the nature of their work (which could not be more different).

Each has distributed managers of volunteers – people in charge of various programs at these organizations and that, in addition to their program work, also recruit and work with volunteers – and that’s been a BIG part of their success at working with and involving volunteers. Volunteers don’t feel like they are working with an HR manager – they are working with people in charge of programs central to the missions of these organizations (that’s not a slam against HR managers, FYI). But that blessing has become a challenge and a potential for problems: the official, overall manager of volunteers is supposed to track all of these different volunteers working in different programs, ensuring each is trained properly, supported properly, etc., and that volunteers contributions are being properly recognized and tracked. But it’s not happening. Those that are working directly with these volunteers hate bureaucracy, and each have their own way of tracking and supporting volunteers. There’s no central database of information – every attempt to do so as failed.

I think the very first step to take is for the overall manager of volunteers at each organization is to make it clear that the goal of her effort is to create an on-going strategy to implement policies and practice that will create a system where every volunteer involved is properly screened and tracked, but a system that DOESN’T add a huge layer of bureaucracy such that it kills the incredible success these organizations have had in recruiting and involving volunteers, and the current very positive feeling volunteers have. It has to be emphasized again and again that the goal is to better support volunteers, and to better protect clients, volunteers themselves and staff as a result of whatever system is development – not just to create burdensome procedures.

I also think each organization needs to get executive director buy-in for this goal and development of a strategy, that the directive to staff to explore and implement a strategy has to come from the ED, loud and clear and more than once. I think the executive director needs to communicate to all staff that a system is going to be put in place because, while volunteer recruitment and retainment are, indeed, wildly successful at both organizations, there are some very negative scenarios that could arise because of the lack of accurate volunteer tracking – and then name some of those scenarios.

Then I think the overall manager of volunteers has to sit down, face-to-face, with each person involving volunteers, talk to them directly, and create a map, literally or figuratively, of how different volunteers in different programs are currently recruited, tracked and supported.

And after all of the above is done, only then is it time to start developing the actual strategy, and that’s where I would love your crowdsourcing in particular:

— Having every volunteer meet with the overall manager of volunteers is unrealistic, IMO – Habitat for Humanity doesn’t do that, SOLVE here in Oregon, which recruits huge numbers of volunteers to clean up beaches and trails and parks, doesn’t do that, etc. Each of the organizations I’m working with needs to identify exactly what kind of volunteer can have minimal screening and tracking, and exactly what kind needs to be strictly screened and supervised, and everything in between – and this needs to be clearly communicated, in writing, and enforced – meaning there are consequences for managers that don’t do it. What do you think enforcement/consequences would look like? If you had to do this – how did you get buy-in?
(I know how to advise them re: what volunteers need what level of screening).

— Do any of you have similar scenarios regarding distributed management of volunteers, and therefore have a central database where every volunteer registers himself or herself? Do they register by an onsite computer? Their smartphone? What software do you use? Do volunteers also use the database to report their hours, or only to register as volunteers? How do you ensure all volunteers are in the database? (I have my own ideas regarding all this, but would really like to hear yours!)

— What other advice would you have for this organization to get all those working with volunteers to buy-in to a more formal system of tracking volunteers? and what other advice do you have regarding tools they can use?

I will compile all answers, including my own, and share them with the organizations – and via my web site or this blog, if the comments section gets too unwieldy.

vvbooklittleOf course, there are also tips in The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook. about managing remote staff – both online volunteers, who do most of their service online, and remote volunteers, who do their service in a physical onsite location remote to the organization and who provide updates and interact with HQ staff primiarily online.

Supervising online volunteers in court-ordered settings

graphic by Jayne Cravens representing volunteersA comment was submitted on one of the most popular blogs I’ve ever written, What online community service is and is not. That blog called out a company that is selling what it calls online community service hours, but which is, in fact, a ruse: customers pay a fee and receive access to videos, which they are supposed to watch, and in return for claiming to watch them, the company gives the “volunteers” a letter from a nonprofit saying they performed online community service. As someone that has been promoting virtual volunteering since the 1990s – and quality standards in all kinds of volunteer engagement – it continues to have me outraged.

I no longer approve comments on that blog, which has more than two dozen, because, for the last three years, most of the comments I get about this blog are from trolls affiliated with the company, ranting about how I hate hard-working people that don’t have time to do traditional onsite service (a rant that can come only from someone who has not actually read the blog) or name-calling such as this:


Yes, really. Welcome to my world.

But a recent comment from Mark Waterson wasn’t either of those. I didn’t want his comment, and my response, to get buried in the sea of comments on that blog, so the blog entry you are reading now is devoted to this comment.

Mark says in his blog comment:

“This article points out online community service options that are legitimate, but really misses the point of why those other organizations exist. If you are doing community service for court, you need an official signed letter of someone in the nonprofit organization who “supervised” you saying you have completed X hours of community service. Your alternatives, while more legitimate, do not offer this, even at a price, and so no one doing court ordered community service can even consider your suggestions as possible alternatives for their purposes.”

Mark is incorrect, however, on this issue. Many of the online volunteering options I recommend on this page DO provide an official signed letter by the nonprofit organization who was assisted by the volunteer, stating how many hours the person gave as an online volunteer. And I have been one of those nonprofit representatives that wrote and signed such a letter for someone doing court-ordered community service through virtual volunteering. As I state on many of my pages for volunteers, a person needs to ask the nonprofit he or she wants to help – whether that nonprofit is down the street or across the country – BEFORE volunteering if staff would be willing to write and sign such a letter. Indeed, many will say no – even for onsite, face-to-face volunteers – but you will find some that will say yes if you keep looking, as I suggest on my pages.

As volunteerism expert Susan Ellis frequently points out, there are very few onsite, traditional volunteering activities where a volunteer is supervised the entire time he or she is performing service. Instead, the volunteers is trained, then given a desk, or a work space and materials, or a phone, or a garbage bag and some gloves, and then they do MOST of their volunteering largely unsupervised. As someone who has been fooled more than a few times by a volunteer sitting at a desk, looking at a computer screen for hours, and pretending to work – and after a day or two, I find out nothing is getting done – I’ve realized that volunteer supervision is much more than eyes-on-the-volunteer, or sign-in sheets at the door.

vvbooklittleAs Susan and I discuss in The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook, there are many ways to supervise online volunteers, to ensure the work is getting done, that the quality of the work is up-to-snuff, and that the volunteer is getting the support he or she needs, such as regular Skype calls, regular emails back and forth, shared work spaces, regular reviews of work to date, etc. In taking those steps, you are going to know very quickly if you are talking to the person actually doing the work.

Could someone fake online volunteering service? Sure, just as people can fake onsite service: hand the volunteer the plastic bag and the gloves, send them down the road to pick up trash, and when they are out-of-sight, a friend brings them a full bag of trash to return to you. Ta da! Or put three volunteers at your information booth, walk away for five hours, and return, not knowing that one of the volunteers paid the others to lie about her time at the table.

Let’s imagine a volunteering scenario: a father gets a DUI and has to do a certain number of hours of community service. He finds a nonprofit that needs 400 photos on Flickr that each need to be tagged with a unique set of keywords, and because each set of keywords is different, it has to be done manually. He signs up to do the work, is accepted to do the work, but his son actually does the work. But here’s the thing: he could also do that as an onsite volunteer: he could go onsite, sit at a desk, and play Tetris until someone passes by, then switch to the Flickr screen and pretend to work until they are gone; meanwhile, his son back at home is actually doing all the work. Here’s a similar scenario: a mom gets assigned court-ordered community service and she signs up to help a nonprofit translate brochures and speeches into Spanish from English. She comes into the nonprofit, sits at a desk, but she plays Scrabble whilst her daughter back home does all the translating.

I think that any volunteer manager of quality would sniff out these scams quickly, through their discussions with the volunteer, review of work, etc. And that would be true of onsite or online volunteers.  TMZ implied that Lindsay Lohan faked her virtual volunteering to fulfill court-ordered community service (be sure to scroll down to the comments – yes, I commented) – it would have been so easy for the nonprofit to know if she did the work or not, through basic volunteer management 101 principles.

Does the tiny possibility that a volunteer can fake work done on a computer mean volunteers fulfilling online community service shouldn’t be allowed to do any online work even if it’s supposed to be done onsite at the organization, rather than via their own computer? No more volunteer web site designers, database data inputters, app designers, translators, editors, podcast producers, photo taggers, and on and on, if they are assigned service by the courts? Of course not. Whether this kind of work is being done onsite or online from the volunteers’ home or a nearby library, the likelihood that a volunteer is pretending to do the work while it’s actually a relative or roommate is so tiny, and so easy to sniff out. Fear of what might happen, in this case, isn’t at all justification of not allowing people assigned court-ordered community service to engage in virtual volunteering.

The biggest challenge to court-ordered folks finding virtual volunteering isn’t fear that they will fake their service by having someone else do it; rather, it’s finding virtual volunteering at all. And many nonprofits refuse to work with court-ordered community service folks period, onsite or online. They just don’t love ’em like I love ’em.

Even though I disagree with Mark, I thank him for writing – I’ve been wanting to expand on this issue for a while now.

Also see:

July 6, 2016 update: the web site of the company Community Service Help went away sometime in January 2016, and all posts to its Facebook page are now GONE. More info at this July 2016 blog: Selling community service leads to arrest, conviction

What online community service is – and is not – the very first blog I wrote exposing this company, back in January 2011, that resulted in the founder of the company calling me at home to beg me to take the blog down.

Haters gonna hate, the latest update on Community Service Help and other similar, unethical companies

Community Service Help Cons Another Person, a first-person account by someone who paid for online community service and had it rejected by the court.

Update on a virtual volunteering scam, from November 2012.

Courts being fooled by online community service scams

Online community service company tries to seem legit.

Online volunteer scam goes global

Have I offended?

A few years ago, whilst doing a training in Louisville, Kentucky, I explained that online volunteers shouldn’t be segregated in program management from traditional onsite volunteers, that they are just volunteers, like all other volunteers, and should be treated as such. An attendee was outraged that I had used the phrase just volunteers, even though it was obvious that I had meant solely or specifically, not merely.

A university student in one of my classes told me she didn’t like my use of the words target and setting my sights on something, because these were “references based in violence” (her words). I admit that, later,  I smugly chastised her over her own use of the phrase rule of thumb.

A workshop attendee in Egypt told me it was outrageous that I said volunteers should get written descriptions of the tasks they were getting or that there should be any talk of their commitment or performance. “We should accept their help and be grateful for whatever they can give! We have no right to ask for anything more!” She was almost in tears as she said this.

And then there’s the infamous Florida workshop at the Corporation for National Service conference from the 1990s, where a team of trainers, including me, tried to encourage a group of SeniorCorps program leaders to adjust their recruitment tactics in order to better attract seniors from the Baby Boomer generation. I don’t think I will ever recover from that.

These incidents – and lots of others I could talk about – prompted me to put a slide at the beginning of all of my presentations, called modus operandi. I tell the group there are no stupid questions, that I might not have all the answers, etc. And I also ask for no GOTCHA moments, where an attendee immediately becomes outraged at something I’ve said. I ask that, if anyone hears me say something that they think is offensive to please raise their hand and ask me to clarify. Some people have done so, and it’s helped head off a lot of bad feelings, because most of the time, I did not at all mean what they thought I meant.

I realize that there is no way in the world to avoid saying something that someone won’t like, but I really do want to connect with my audience, on a human level, and for us to be able to treat each other with respect and openness. I love training, and if there is an obstacle to my overall message getting out because of something I’ve said, or a perception of what I’ve said, I want that obstacle addressed post haste.

My work is out there in the public sphere for anyone to read and criticize. That’s the nature of my work, and it can be scary. Most of my work isn’t tucked away on an intranet at a humanitarian organization or in a classroom or high-priced academic journal – it’s on my web site, on my blog, on YouTube, on social media, even on other people’s web sites. It’s not easy to live with that much public scrutiny, and the criticism of me and my work can often be downright hateful, as we Kentuckians say (or, at least, as the Kentuckians I grew up with would say).

I was born and raised in Kentucky, and am fiercely proud of the fact. Fiercely. Ask my non-Kentucky friends and colleagues: they will tell you that they are sick of hearing about my beloved home state. Kentucky is like so many other states I’ve lived in or visited – Texas, Tennessee, Vermont, Iowa – or even other regions of the world – Ukraine, Catalunya, the Westerwald of Germany – where residents are intensely proud of being from that region, where there are unique aspects of their way of talking, even the way they dress, and they have faced jokes – sometimes good-natured, sometimes cruel – about their culture, including their accents. People from such regions get called out almost immediately anywhere else because of their accents, and they can be very sensitive about comments made about their culture, especially when most images about their culture in the media are negative.

Upon hearing that I am from Kentucky, I have heard comments all over the world which have stung me. There is a very particular joke that Germans have about Kentucky that I won’t repeat here, but when Germans would hear I was from Kentucky, and smirk, I would say the joke, in German, and they would be flabberghasted that I knew their “secret.” Instead of being offended, I turned the tables, and it actually often lead to some really great conversations about Kentucky – they got to learn just what an interesting, beautiful place it is, in contrast to what they thought. I hear a lot of hurtful comments from people from other countries when they learn I’m from the USA, because of how they perceive this country, based on our foreign policy, our movies and our TV shows. I have to find a way not to become overwhelmed with outrage at their comments, however cruel, because I’m there to work with them. I guess that’s why it takes a lot to offend me, as someone from Kentucky or from the USA as a whole.

Because of this worldwide perception of Kentucky, I sometimes comment about it at the start of a workshop I’m doing. It’s my way of disarming (oops, gun reference!) the audience: yes, I know you hear the accent, however slight. It’s also my way to represent: hey, you are going to get communications and tech advice from a gal from KENTUCKY – get your stereotypes about my state around THAT! I hope that, by the end of the workshop, they have not only learned about communications strategies, social media, volunteer management, etc. – I hope they have a new, better opinion of people from Kentucky.

I do just that at the start of this video. And it was recently brought to my attention that a Kentucky university professor was offended because of it. She didn’t tell me, however. Instead, she told her colleagues about her offense. Someone else had to tell me about her judgment.

So let me make it clear that my modus operandi isn’t just for my workshops; it’s also regarding my web site, this blog, and anything else I do online. If you read something of mine that you think is offensive, write me, via email ( or, as so many have done, in the comments section of my blog, and immediately ask me to clarify. Maybe I don’t mean what you think I mean. Maybe it’s exactly what I meant. But you won’t ever know unless you ask me.

And, no, I’m not wearing shoes right now. And I did use an outhouse last week, but it was in Canada.

Also see:

Could your organization be deceived by GOTCHA media?

Feuds in the nonprofit/NGO/charity world