Entries Tagged as 'Society'

Why nonprofits need for-profit business mentality

Sitting on many nonprofit type boards and running my own nonprofit, I’ve changed some ways of thinking in the past six months.
You see, anyone that has been paying attention to the financial sector, and world markets would understand that the economy seems to have taken a turn here in the States. It’s hard for anyone not to see that actually with gas prices running sky high (technically that’s another story altogether, but we’ll visit that sometime else).
So what happens to nonprofits? The ones like my own do not carry salary for its staff and thus are purely volunteer based and non-fund driven. There really isn’t anything that you must do since we do this because we wish to do it. But there is another type of nonprofit. Those that actually work in the sector and is their livelihood. What about them?
Well, first we need to understand how most nonprofits operate. For the most part, nonprofits are either supporter driven, or foundation money driven, or a combination of the two. Unfortunately, if your nonprofit serves a pretty distinct niche, then either or both of those sources of funding can dry up very quickly when times are tough. And believe me, the whole grant writing, and asking money from foundations thing is a weary act.
That’s why nonprofits need to quit thinking in the old school fashion of holding out the hand and asking for money, and instead start thinking like businesses structures. Yes, the budget is tight, but think of grant funding as your VC or seed capital. Once it’s gone, you can definitely go back for a second or third round, but the idea is to use it to drive a recurring business, not one that is a one pop wonder.
Think about it. If you had grant money that was used purely for a project by project basis, then you would have to operate like my own nonprofit (pure volunteer). But if you could create recurring business from the initial funding? Then not only are you creating a recurring income, but you’re also abiding by your mission. This also frees up foundation money that you would have been going back for, so that the foundations can give to some other charitable organization. Let’s be frank, there are more charitable organizations out there than actual money givers.
There are a lot of reasons why operating like an actual business can pull a nonprofit through the hard times. Heck, most of these nonprofits already have a Board and instead of a CEO, you have an Executive Director. But either way, most of the planning and actual management team is already in place. There just needs to be a change in the school of thought.
Believe me, when times are good, it’s not such a bad thing to just ask for the green. But when times are tough? It’s more prudent to batter down the hatches and hold out until the storm is over. And nonprofits usually are one of those ships that are thrown wildly in the storm.
Photo Credit: (dbking)

Too lazy to reach for that lever in your car?

What gives?
Are you just too lazy to even reach for that lever when you shift from lane to lane?
What about when you turn left, or right?
I know it’s a group of muscles that you rarely use, and outstretching a few fingers is painful even for the youngest of folks, but it really would mean the world to those that are driving around you to actually know what you’re doing.
I know I might be asking too much here, seeing that we just met and all, but really. If you can’t do it for me, do it for that special someone in your life.
Okay okay, do it for yourself. Either way. Those muscles in your fingers will thank you. People around you will thank you. And I for one won’t have to wonder if you’re shifting into the lane that I’m about to shift into or if you’re just daydreaming about a date with a young Hollywood star and drifting over.
Being that it’s our first time, I urge you to go slowly. I know it’s a long and difficult road ahead, but you might want to practice doing it while parked. When you feel like you’re ready for the next stage, then perhaps you can start to move around and signal while turning in a parking lot. Adventurous ones can play on the major roadways but be cautious for there are others out there.
Others just like you used to be.
And they must also be educated in the ways.
Photo Credit: (ismh)

What health insurers don’t want you to know

I pretty much no nothing about the insurance business. I leave that to a buddy of mine, whom does it in his offline business. And even there, he doesn’t play in the health realm of things.
So when I ran across this bit by Health magazine, I was pretty floored on some of the things that I didn’t know. Definitely read the article since it goes into more details but here’s one of the ones that really drove it home for me.
Did you know that if your doctor (under your network plan) happens to do surgery on you, then he/she would work with an anesthesiologist. Say on the offhand that this anesthesiologist happens to be outside your network. The insurance company would bill you for using an out-of-coverage doctor and most people would just pay. But apparently not so! If you don’t have a say in it, then you’re not liable according to the article.
There are steps that you would have to take to achieve this and it’s not exactly one of those one phone call away type things. But it could save you some money, which is the brilliance of it all.
There’s a reason insurance is one of the largest industries out there and one of the most profitable. But tips like these help bring a little bit of what you might of paid to them for not knowing, back into your coffers. I would also assume that if you had a good insurance agent, that they would look after you in this fashion and keep you informed on these things.
In the end… who doesn’t like saving a little bit of money.
Photo Credit: (Nemo’s great uncle)

No reflectors in roads still make for dangerous driving

I seem to talk about this almost every year, and every year I do, there’s hardly a response. In fact, when I had brought it up with my city councilwoman before… the city had responded that it’s too costly and apparently when it “snows” the plows rip them off the road. So if we really needed it, then we should make a request.
Unfortunately, the reflective paint that they use in its place is practically useless in lit streets such as Wendover. If you drive down Wendover, every single light reflects the entire wet road and there really isn’t a distinction on where the lines are. Will anyone do anything about this? Probably not.
In fact, my assumption is that nothing will be done until something tragic happens. And that’s unfortunate. It’s very similar to situations involving railroad crossings where many areas where there is a railroad arm that comes down was a place that someone had some sort of accident involving a locomotive.
I’m a firm believer in being proactive instead of reactive. It’s easy enough to do the latter, but sometimes the consequences could be … well in this case, fatal. Since the requests have pretty much fallen on deaf ears, the only suggestion I can offer is for people to drive very slowly and carefully when the roads are wet.
In case you think that anywhere else in North Carolina is any better? It isn’t. In cutting costs, any road that used to have reflectors but is getting repaved, gets the reflective paint. There are only a few places that actually put the reflectors back and those areas are few and far between.
Photo Credit: (Mr. Wright)

Chasing the digital music generation

Apple iTunes Funny how the ages seem to change. Once there was records. Yes, those 45 rpms.
Then 8-tracks.
Then tapes.
Then CDs.
We won’t even go into the slight tangents of mediums such as MDs (that I own a few of by the way along with two portable players and a sound system attachment). With each generation of music, there were different types of mediums that dictated how the younger generations would grow and evolve. In this current decade, digital downloads are slowly but surely giving CDs a run for its money. Don’t believe me? No problem. Let’s take a look at the facts.

  1. Apple iTunes is the number two seller of music behind Walmart based on volume sold in 2007.

  2. 48% of teenagers didn’t buy a CD in 2007, up from 38% in 2006.

Is there truth in this fact? Sure thing.
The reason for the actual move towards the digital medium is the same reason why my generation could program a VCR better than the generation before. The technology adoption factor. In this age where young people have more of a knack to have their fingers fly across a cellular keypad than us “old folks”, is also the showing of the end of a old era and the beginning of a new.
iPods, and other portable media players flooded the markets as GenX and GenY have grown up and started their own families and … well, the truth of the matter: got jobs. With that, the youth that are growing up as children of these generations are also inundated with the technology adoption. Younger kids with mobiles and music players is a signal for another changing of the guard.
Myself? Have always been a technology adopter and will continue to always be one. The only music I bought this year was off of iTunes unless they didn’t carry the imports. Lately, they have actually been introducing a lot of Asian music which is another sign that things are changing for the better. Why bother with physical media anymore? In this age, it’s about the size of your storage, not the size of your collectibles.

Stop right there! You don’t “own” your information!

In writing this post on Scoble’s big news of the day… I realized something.
Everyone was talking about how the information is owned by themselves, or owned by Facebook, or insert any other social medium corporation.
As someone that has delved into information collection in the past, and worked with some in the field, I can tell you something. Your information isn’t owned by you, nor is it controlled by you if you sign it away. You ever try to control public information? Or have you even looked at the type of files on you that has been collected ever since… you owned a credit card? Databanks such as LexisNexis and other places that make their living on information store all sorts of things on your average person. In fact, most people would be shocked as to what things are out there that comes from just plain public information.
Your address and birthday? No, you don’t own it. And it’s out there. That time that you filled out for a “free” trip? Yeah, you signed that information away already.
So really folks. Quit talking about how it’s yours, and you own it and how Facebook is in the wrong. If so, you’re going against a lost cause since the entire information industry is based on these types of dealios. Don’t believe me? Go look yourself up on Zabbasearch.

Scoble making a case of data portability by unethical means

While some say that the end justifies the means, I’m not so sure.
The base story for this is that Scoble went and tested a script to export data from Facebook that Facebook didn’t allow. The script basically did a screen-scrape of which is not only unethical, but it’s not really not legal based on the violation of the Terms of Service. On top of it, if the Facebook API doesn’t allow the exporting of the data, then there’s a good reason for it. Be it legal, or security or anything else. Overstepping those bounds? Shame shame.
My buddy has a great writeup on how this works out and points out that Scoble seems to get a pass at making a fuss about things even though this is extremely bad.
Unfortunately, the data portability issue? It’s a great cause. The tactics employed in promoting this issue? Terrible move. I want to say that Scoble should know better than to override other people’s stuff for your own means. It’s like when a corporate entity takes GPL and just disregards it entirely and integrates code into proprietary code. In the same measure, this disregard for TOS is along the same lines, in my opinion.

Seventy-one year old hip-hop granny

The Chinese are crazy. Yes. I admit it. I mean, where else would you find a seventy-one year old woman that dances to hip-hop? This lady can actually bust some moves like Jay Chou. What’s amusing is that she doesn’t have any clue what the music is about or what it says. Good thing she just dances to the beats eh? Instead of getting out your 9…

Illegal immigrants getting in-state tuiton? WHA???

I first heard about this little tidbit of news from a buddy of mine.
First reaction was: “WHAAA??”
And I still stand by that reaction. Here’s the thing. While it sounds like these administrators for both the community colleges and now the UNC system are trying to make it affordable for people to get an education… let’s face it. This is a money play, than a good will play.
With in-state tuition on the rise, I have no clue how you’re going to get illegal immigrants to prove their residency not to mention there are a number of things such as SAT scores, and transcripts. It’s easy enough to obtain forged documentation to get work here, so what’s to say that this wouldn’t just create a black market for these types of documents? And how do you know that people would be taking advantage of this opportunity?
Personally, I think it’s a shoddy deal. Let’s face it. Those of us that are residents, don’t even take advantage of the in-state tuition enough. What’s to say that illegals would? They came here for jobs, and maybe a better life, but they probably didn’t come for an education. On top of that, just try pulling financial aid. How do you think these illegals will be paying for this education?
This opens a whole new can of worms and one that I just can’t see people standing by and watching from the sidelines. As a child of immigrants that came legally, I have to say that it seems like it demeans the whole legal process of coming into the country if you provide rights to illegals that are similar to those that are here legally.
Not sure what people will do about this, but I can tell you that it sure sounds like a crock if I’ve ever heard of one.

Why do we listen to reporters?

I know this sounds crazy but sometimes to sensationalize news, reporters go out of their way.
Almost ridiculously outside of common sense. For example. They were talking about the gas and oil pricing fluctuations on CNBC a while back. The anchor asked why the pump prices didn’t reflect the dip in the crude and the reporter claimed that it was because it would take a couple weeks like a delayed pricing.
Yeah, that defies all logic. When crude goes up, the price at the pump goes up almost in sync. To claim this is almost on the side of absurd. Yet, the public just takes it in because someone “said so”. Another was the recent interview at a Detroit Chrysler plant with MSNBC. The guy in charge of restructuring gave some PR answers on how agile they were instead of hard facts when the MSNBC anchor asked about competition with the likes of the Japanese manufacturers such as Toyota.
I’ll tell you exactly why Toyota can beat Chrysler in manufacturing. If I’m not mistaken, in the span of a day or so, a Toyota plant can be converted to produce pretty much any line they currently make. You can’t do the same with a Chrysler plant. That flexibility is what is costing the Big 3. But the anchor just stood by and ate it up.
People need to think for themselves a little bit. The news is there, and the facts are reported, but make a serious effort to link cause and effect instead of standing idly by and just taking it in. I know it’s difficult to actually want to do logical reasoning when you’re stuck in a zombified state in front of the brain eating tube, but you must.
Must… make… decisions…for…self.