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Partners and Senior Advisors use the firm's blog to write on current ethics and leadership topics.

Monthly Archives: September 2013

What Should a Trustee Expect in Return ?

A good deal has been written … some of it on this blog … about the characteristics of a good trustee for a nonprofit institution and what the institution and the board should expect from such a trustee.  Much less has been written about what a trustee should expect in return for service on a […]

Posted in Governance

Philanthropy = Charity ?

Philanthropy may become an unexpected casualty of the increasing inequality in wealth and income.  This sounds counterintuitive, but there seems to be a growing tendency to test the merits of philanthropy by whether it is a truly charitable act.  Charity generally refers to the relief of suffering.  Philanthropy is focused on achieving a public good; […]

Posted in Philanthropy

Common Practice or Best Practice or Perhaps Even Future Practice

Anyone who spends time working with nonprofit institutions on governance or who is a trustee who cares about good nonprofit governance is familiar with the tension between common practice and best practice.  This tension often arises when suggestions for governance changes stretch the institution and its board to think about the way it practices governance […]

Posted in Governance

Fuzzy Personal Feelings and Institutional Rules

Is it unethical to submit the same paper for credit in two separate, unrelated college courses, without either instructor being aware that you were doing so? This June 2, 2013, inquiry to the New York Times “Ethicist,” Chuck Klosterman, received an interesting reply. At first, The Ethicist thought it was unethical because every teacher operates […]

Posted in Ethics

Now What ?

I have been struggling for the past couple of weeks with what to say about the tragic building collapse in Bangladesh.  How do we wrap our minds around the deaths of 1100 people making $40 a month so we Americans can have cheaper sweat pants?  What does morality have to say to a consumer society […]

Posted in Ethics

What About Moral Courage ?

When former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords recently received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, she said, “We all have courage inside.  I wish there was more courage in Congress.”  The behavior of the members of Congress in the past several years has reached a new low on a variety of fronts, including a […]

Posted in Ethics

Should I Join This Board of Trustees?

Most of us are flattered and intrigued when we are asked to join a nonprofit board of trustees.  This is particularly true if we already have some involvement with the institution or are already committed to the institution’s mission.  When asked to join a board, we think about the time involved, the philanthropic expectations, and […]

Posted in Governance

Should We Fire the President?

A friend of mine, a retired college president, recently told me a story about a trustee who believes the only meeting agenda item necessary for a nonprofit board of trustees is … “Should we fire the president?”  If the answer is “no,” the meeting should be adjourned, and the trustees should go home.  A bit […]

Posted in Governance

On Being an Effective Trustee

An old aphorism about being a trustee of a nonprofit institution notes that the institution should receive two out of the following three from a trustee – work, wisdom, or wealth. While simplistic, there is a kernel of truth here. As a way of elaborating on the aphorism, let me suggest the following characteristics of […]

Posted in Governance

How the Mighty Have Fallen … And Continue to Fall

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army.  They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah.  But David remained in Jerusalem. One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace.  From […]

Posted in Leadership
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