The #1 Way To Alienate Your Hard-Working Team

We’ve all been there — your accomplishment, which you’ve spent months on, gets credited publicly to your superior. She just smiles and nods, taking all the credit and seeming to forget that she has a team behind her.

And then the moment a criticism is levied, the same leader immediately turns it toward her team, skirting any responsibility.


Photo from

Having this reversed perspective on praise and criticism is the #1 way to undermine your credibility, destroy morale, and drive your team to start updating their resumes. After all, we know that people don’t leave jobs — they leave their boss.

Here’s the simple two-part rule for not being that kind of leader.

How to Handle a Crisis… and Come Out Smelling Like a Rose

Six minutes. That’s how long it took to realize that the flood of calls and emails meant that we were about to have dozens of angry constituents on our hands.

Now, a couple of weeks later, I’m thrilled that, rather than losing important relationships over the debacle, we’ve actually improved our reputation among most of the affected families. Here’s how we did it.


My Top 10 Posts of 2014

This has been a great year — a year in which, among many challenges and accomplishments, I’m thrilled to have launched this blog.


Photo courtesy of Dennis Skley on Flickr

I’m especially grateful for you, the handful of people who have come aboard and supported my journey into becoming a writer, in addition to a nonprofit professional. Your support and encouragement have kept me going!

As I look back on Year 1 (or should I call this Year 0?), I thought I might share the Top 10 posts from the year — those that received the most shares on social media and email and the most views on my website. I thought this might be especially helpful for those who have subscribed more recently — you may have missed some earlier posts that you might find interesting or helpful.

How to Spend More, Smartly, on Development

In my last post, I showed you how to use a smart management tool to get a handle on your budget and figure out how much your organization should be spending on development.

If you tried it out, I’d bet you a box of off-brand ball point pens that it told you that you’re underinvesting.


Photo courtesy of OTA Photos on Flickr

What?!? Are you suggesting that I increase my overhead? Maybe.

The 10 Steps To Solve Your Budget Troubles

Virtually every nonprofit struggles to balance its budget. Attempts to bring it into balance usually involve some combination of cutting expenses (often sacrificing future growth), and stretching the fundraising goal past the point of confidence. But it doesn’t have to be that way.


About a year ago, I attended a workshop session at the University of Richmond’s Institute on Philanthropy. Wally Stettinius, a statesman of the Richmond philanthropic community, led the session.

How to Give a Great Media Interview

As nonprofit leaders, we’re often called upon to speak with the media. For many, this can be one of the scariest responsibilities of being a leader. But with a little practice and a few key points, you can knock it out of the park.

How to Give a Great Media Interview

Please note: These suggestions are intended for general, non-crisis interviews.

Can You See Where You’re Going?

Last week, I took a couple of much-needed days off from work. It’s been an outrageously busy couple of months, and I needed a little “me time.” On my list one morning was to fix the cloudy headlights on my 11-year-old car — they’ve been getting so cloudy that it’s reducing the amount of light cast on the road ahead of me.


Photo courtesy of Aftab Uzzaman on Flickr

As I sat in the driveway buffing my headlights, I asked myself, “Why has it taken me months to get to this? What was more important than seeing where I’m going?

An Enduring Mark on Richmond

John Bryan retired this week after more than five years as the founding president of CultureWorks here in Richmond. For those outside Richmond, CultureWorks is the champion for arts and culture in the Richmond region. John is a mentor to many and a friend to all. Despite decades of experience in nonprofit leadership, he has a naturally inquisitive spirit and a lasting commitment to continuous learning. He has left a truly enduring mark on Richmond — in more ways than one.


I recently sat down with John to talk about leadership, our community, his tattoo, and his thoughts as he retires from his position with CultureWorks.