Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Don't Drink That: How The Habit of Tasting the Bad Milk Hurts Us All

I was on the board of the Loudoun County United Way for a short time when I lived in the Washington D.C. area. It was right after the famous scandal that rocked the United Way in that area. It was a rought time for local nonprofits in the region, even though the local economy was thriving. Groups spent much time and resources on positioning themselves to donors to obtain confidence. What I felt mostly is that at times nonprofits were equal to a glass of spoiled milk.

The article in the WSJ regarding the Bernie Madoff scandal hurts nonprofits, in a similiar way. Nonprofits had nothing to do with the Madoff scandal, yet again there is a bad milk smell that causes donors to hesitate. This is happening in the midst of a the current economic climate.

My assessment on all of this is that nonprofits are unfairly tarnished by some bad apples but also bad media. The stories often look for the opposite sides of the spectrum, either new milk or smelly milk. Madoff is a good case in point. Ponzi scheme for the wealthy that goes terribly wrong. How does that have anything to do with a great human service agency in Harlem. Nothing at all but that Harlem group's bottom line will suffer because of the rush to cover the bad milk.

Tough economic times call for us to watch our bottom line more closely, but I also think it should involve more work at showcasing the fresh milk. There is a lot of it.....

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