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Tips for Surviving a Group Interview

August 20, 2015

Group interviewGroup interviews are a common feature of the job search process, especially in the nonprofit sector, where candidates may need to interview with work teams, search committees, and/or board members. If you've participated in one, you know they can be a little overwhelming. Typically, you're seated on one side of a table, with four or more people on the other who take turns grilling you. With a little preparation and the application of the tips outlined below, however, you can turn even the most intimidating group interview into an opportunity to showcase your strengths.

Know who's in the room. Request the names and titles of each person who will be participating in the interview and spend a little time looking them up on the organization's website and/or on LinkedIn so, in advance, you have a sense of who they are, what they do, and what they look like.

Take notes. Jot down interview participant's names as they introduce themselves and then address them by their name as the interview proceeds. Don't be afraid to take notes as people are asking questions, especially if they are multi-part questions. If nothing else, it will enable you to make sure you've addressed all the points you were asked to cover – and will help you get back on track if you start to ramble.

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President Obama’s Eulogy for Beau Biden

June 08, 2015

Below is the full text of the extraordinary eulogy for Beau Biden that Barack Obama delivered on June 6, 2015, at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Wilmington, Delaware. Biden, the vice president's eldest son and a former attorney general of Delaware and Iraq War veteran, died on May 30 from brain cancer. We were out of pocket over the weekend and only learned of the president's remarks through Dave Pell's not-to-be-missed enewsletter, Next Draft. On Medium, Pell wrote he felt obliged to share the president's remarks because, in addition to being "one of the most amazing and thoughtful remembrances I've ever [heard]," they "seriously make [me] want to be better." We couldn't agree more.


"A man," wrote an Irish poet, "is original when he speaks the truth that has always been known to all good men." Beau Biden was an original. He was a good man. A man of character. A man who loved deeply, and was loved in return.

Your Eminences, your Excellencies, General Odierno, distinguished guests; to Hallie, Natalie and Hunter; to Hunter, Kathleen, Ashley, Howard; the rest of Beau's beautiful family, friends, colleagues; to Jill and to Joe  —  we are here to grieve with you, but more importantly, we are here because we love you.

Without love, life can be cold and it can be cruel. Sometimes cruelty is deliberate —  the action of bullies or bigots, or the inaction of those indifferent to another's pain. But often, cruelty is simply born of life, a matter of fate or God's will, beyond our mortal powers to comprehend. To suffer such faceless, seemingly random cruelty can harden the softest hearts, or shrink the sturdiest. It can make one mean, or bitter, or full of self-pity. Or, to paraphrase an old proverb, it can make you beg for a lighter burden.

But if you're strong enough, it can also make you ask God for broader shoulders; shoulders broad enough to bear not only your own burdens, but the burdens of others; shoulders broad enough to shield those who need shelter the most.

To know Beau Biden is to know which choice he made in his life. To know Joe and the rest of the Biden family is to understand why Beau lived the life he did. For Beau, a cruel twist of fate came early —  the car accident that took his mom and his sister, and confined Beau and Hunter, then still toddlers, to hospital beds at Christmastime.

But Beau was a Biden. And he learned early the Biden family rule: If you have to ask for help, it's too late. It meant you were never alone; you don't even have to ask, because someone is always there for you when you need them.

And so, after the accident, Aunt Valerie rushed in to care for the boys, and remained to help raise them. Joe continued public service, but shunned the parlor games of Washington, choosing instead the daily commute home, maintained for decades, that would let him meet his most cherished duty —  to see his kids off to school, to kiss them at night, to let them know that the world was stable and that there was firm ground under their feet.

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Nine Bullsh*t Habits to Avoid at Work in 2015

January 03, 2015

Stop_bad_habitsThe start of a new year is an excellent time to think about work habits that irritate your co-workers and make you less effective.

"Achieving success requires more than just doing the right thing," says blogger and columnist Geoffrey James. "Success also means changing the behaviors that are holding you back."

Here are nine workplace habits that, according to James, most of us would do well to eliminate in 2015:

1. Doing the bare minimum. If you accept a task, you owe it to yourself and to others to make your best effort. If you don't want to do something, have the courage to say so. Doing a half-*ssed job is just being passive-aggressive.

2. Telling half-truths. Honesty is the best policy. If you're afraid to speak the truth, don't tell a half-truth that's designed to mislead but leaves you in a position of "plausible deniability." Either tell the whole truth or tell a real lie — and accept the consequences if you're found out.

3. Finger-pointing. Few behaviors are as pointless as assigning blame. In most endeavors, who's at fault when something goes wrong is irrelevant. What's important is figuring how to avoid making the same mistake a second time.

4. Bucking accountability. Finger-pointing is as common as it is because too many people are unwilling to admit their mistakes. If you're going to take credit for your accomplishments, you should also own up to your failures. The two go hand-in-hand.

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Bulletproof Your Resume: Four Mistakes Nonprofit Execs Make and How to Fix Them

June 25, 2014

Nonprofit_resume_mistakesCrafting a compelling resume tends to get more difficult the further along you are in your career. There's a much larger body of work to consider and frame once you've reached the executive level, and for most executives finding the time to build a high-impact resume isn’t easy. But it’s time well spent, since your resume is still an important way to communicate your unique value proposition and helps prospective employers and others get a quick sense of your personal brand.

Below are four mistakes nonprofit executives often make with their resumes, and how to fix them.

1. Leading with an objective statement or random assortment of characteristics and adjectives.The real estate at the top of your resume is critical. This is your first and best chance to demonstrate your value proposition to a prospective employer. If you don't hook them here, most readers will lose interest before they get to the middle of the page. The old standby objective statement (e.g., "Seasoned manager seeking leadership opportunity in mission-driven social service organization") doesn't give the reader anything other than a vague picture of the kind of job you are looking for — and frankly, she doesn't care about that. Prospective hiring managers, recruiters, and HR executives need and want to know what you can offer them.

The fix: Develop a powerful summary that outlines your career achievements and value. Make it easy to read, use bullets, and be sure it demonstrates your skills in a way that convinces the hiring manager you are worth more than thirty seconds of his or her time. Focus on the quantifiable results of your projects and roles, as well as what you have to offer a potential employer. For example:

  • Managed department of 60 with $35M budget;
  • Oversaw organization-wide data migration project;
  • Secured $19M in funding.

2. Missing the mark on format and length. As an executive recruiter, I see hundreds of resumes every week, and the two most common mistakes I see are resumes that are too long and/or resumes that have overly fussy formatting.

The fix: As a seasoned executive, you have much more experience than you could possibly fit onto a single page. That doesn't mean, however, that you should take six pages to spell it all out; keep it to no more than two to three pages and indicate that you're happy to fill in your additional experience upon request.

When it comes to formatting, simplicity and readability should be your guiding principles. Stick to a maximum of two fonts, and don't over-engineer. Also, don't forget that many people, especially those with whom you'll be networking, will be looking at your resume on a mobile device, so be sure to look at the finished product on a smartphone and tablet before you circulate it.

Finally, don't forget about the basics: if you don't have the time to proofread your resume for typos and grammatical errors, find someone who does.

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Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (March 2014)

April 01, 2014

March was another busy month here at PhilanTopic, as readers responded enthusiastically to Laura Callanan's four-part series on social sector leadership, our usual weekend offerings (including a great infographic about millennial myths), and new posts by Gabriel Kasper/Justin Marcoux, Dr. Anand Parekh, and others.

It looks like spring has finally sprung, and we've got lots of great content planned for the month ahead, so don't be a stranger. In the meantime, here's a chance to catch up on some of the things you may have missed....

What have you read/watched/listened to over the last month that made you think, surprised you, or caused you to scratch your head? Share your finds in the comments section below....

Nelson Mandela, July 18, 1918 - December 5, 2013

December 06, 2013

PND joins with millions of people around the globe in paying tribute to Nelson Mandela, a towering figure of the twentieth century. Thanks in part to his heroic example, our is a more peaceful and just world. May he always live in our collective memory.


The Nelson Mandela foundation is collecting messages of condolence from the global community. To send a message, visit

Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (November 2013)

December 01, 2013

Hope you all had a fun and relaxing Thanksgiving holiday. With 2013 rapidly coming to a close, it's time to look back at the most popular posts on PhilanTopic during the month of November:

What have you been reading/watching/listening to? Share your favorites in the comments section below....

Boston Foundation Statement on Marathon Attack

April 16, 2013

The Boston Foundation issued the following statement this morning in reaction to the attack on the Boston Marathon on Monday afternoon:

Yesterday at 2: 50 p.m., our community was torn apart by an act of unspeakable cowardice and evil. Today, we join our neighbors, our community, and friends across the nation and the world not only in grief, but in our determination to overcome this heinous crime. All of us at the Boston Foundation wish to express our sympathies and support to all those directly affected by the attack, and pledge to provide short- and long-term support to the community as we all seek to recover and heal.

We continue to be in touch with state and local officials as well as other members of the nonprofit and philanthropic community, as we develop our immediate and longer-term efforts to support our community in this time of need.

Throughout its history, the people of the City of Boston have demonstrated their resilience and strength in times of crisis -- and we have seen those acts of courage and heroism already in the past day. Boston is our home, and for nearly 100 years we have been honored to play a role in strengthening and supporting this community. Together, we can all take comfort in the knowledge that we can and will work together as a community to lift up the victims of this tragedy, ease their suffering and support each other in this challenging time.

The foundation is currently gathering information on scheduled events for the public in tribute to those harmed by the attack and is posting those on its Web site, It will issue more statements on its plans as they are finalized.

Weekend Link Roundup (December 1-2, 2012)

December 02, 2012

Our weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....


On the Big Duck blog, Jenna Silverman shares some social media tips for maximizing exposure for an article, blog post, newsletter feature, or report:

  1. Don't be afraid to state your conclusion right away;
  2. Use jargon-free and audience-centric language; and
  3. Use include images if it's posted to Facebook, and hashtags if shared via Twitter.

"Just remember," adds Silverman, "that your followers on Twitter are expecting something different from the people that like you on Facebook. Facebook users don't want to see hashtags and your Twitter followers don't want you to waste space with full URLs. Instead of auto-feeding those updates across all platforms, write new messages for each one. You'll see a difference."


Last week saw the debut of Giving Tuesday, a national movement to boost support for nonprofit organizations at the start of the annual holiday season. Despite all the hoopla surrounding the event, not everyone was a convert. Writing on the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog, Timothy Ogden, managing director of the Financial Access Initiative at New York University and executive partner at Sona Partners, said he wasn't convinced the campaign would "materially affect giving in any positive way." The United States, writes Ogden,

has a deserved reputation for generosity when it comes to charity. According to GivingUSA, total annual giving now tops $300 billion. What many don't realize, given that the GivingUSA numbers change each year (usually in a positive direction), is how static the giving behavior of Americans is. Americans on average give about 2 percent of their income. When they earn more, they give more. When they earn less, they cut back. Over the last 10 years the percentage of national income given away (according to GivingUSA's totals) has varied from 2.1 to 2.2 percent. The only thing that has changed that percentage in the last 40 years, according to the Minneapolis Fed, is a tax law change that led to many wealthy people starting foundations at the end of 1986....

Ogden goes on to say that "while Giving Tuesday may make Americans' giving more visible, there's no reason to will affect how much they give." More likely, he writes, is that it will "shift more giving to the week of Thanksgiving from other times of year." We're not sure whether that's a good or bad thing. What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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[Infographic] Nonprofit Strategic Restructuring

August 11, 2012

How are funders supporting strategic collaboration, and how are nonprofits engaging in these kinds of partnerships with each other?

To answer those questions, our colleagues in the Foundation Center's field offices turned to the center's Nonprofit Collaboration Database to find nonprofit organization from across the country who could tell them about their experiences. They eventually contacted ten and asked them questions like:

  • Why were you collaborating?
  • What are the challenges to effective collaboration?
  • How are foundations supporting your collaboration?
  • How do you wish they would have supported you?

Then, in partnership with La Piana Consulting and the Tides Center, the center convened ten funders in a daylong session in San Francisco to talk about the way nonprofits and foundations are thinking about collaboration generally and strategic restructuring more specifically.

Based on those two sources of knowledge, our colleagues then created the infographic below for the Alliance for Nonprofit Management 2012 conference (hashtag: #anm12). Enjoy!

(Click for larger image)


For more information about collaboration and strategic restructuring, b sure to check out these resources:

[Infographic] 'America's Nonprofit Sector'

August 04, 2012

Nice infographic from the folks at the Center for Civil Studies at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies based on the new, fully revised third edition of America's Nonprofit Sector: A Primer (Foundation Center), by Lester R. Salamon.


To order America's Nonprofit Sector, click here.

Weekend Link Roundup (July 28-29, 2012)

July 29, 2012

2012_OlympicsOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....


"If no one can understand us, if we can't even understand ourselves, how are we going to help communities become more informed and engaged?" asks the Knight Foundation's Eric Newton on the Knight blog. What's more, writing more readable press releases doesn't mean issues need to be dumbed down, says Newton. "You have to be smart to convey difficult subjects in clear, understandable prose. If you can do it, your work will be more effective...."


The Fundraising Detective shares some lessons about what the Olympics can teach nonprofits about volunteering, marketing, and fundraising, including how to give volunteers recognition, how to pass the torch, and how to do more than you ever thought possible.


On the Philanthropy UK blog, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors CEO Melissa Berman argues that distinctions "between 'mainstream/traditional' (i.e., white) philanthropy and 'other' philanthropy, that is, the kind of giving practiced by racial, ethnic and tribal communities," are steadily giving way to a new reality, as African-American, Arab- and Asian-American, Latino, and Native American populations become "an increasingly potent force in American philanthropy." Berman then highlights a few observations and themes to buttress her argument:

  • The philanthropic sector faces increasing scrutiny, both from government and activist groups, to demonstrate its responsiveness and accountability to racial and ethnic groups. A legislative proposal in California that would have mandated certain race-based benchmarks and grantmaking ratios, for example, was only narrowly defeated after foundations in the state voluntarily agreed to do more. If the field does not do a better job of addressing these complex issues on its own, writes Berman, it risks being forced to do so by others.
  • The growth of philanthropy in communities of color has paralleled major social movements driven by and affecting those communities. The civil rights movement of the 1960s, for example, was accompanied by a proliferation of African American funds; the Native Peoples movement of the 1970s led to new tribal giving structures; the women's and LGBTQ movements had a similar effect. Indeed, says Berman, one could make the case that any important social agenda must be accompanied by philanthropic activity if it hopes to get traction.
  • There will most certainly be a greater democratization of philanthropy as a result of the growth of giving vehicles formed by donors from various racial and ethnic backgrounds.
  • Communities of color increasingly command the resources and have the capacity to do their own giving -- i.e., philanthropy is becoming something everyone can (and does) do.
  • As a result, philanthropy is emerging as a critical expression of a community's own self-determination. We are finally realizing that solutions, as well as the resources to implement them, are to be found within communities themselves.

Professional Development

Rosetta Thurman -- she of the many hats, including nonprofit career coach -- has some advice for young nonprofit professionals wondering whether they are on the right career path.

Social Media

In an era of niche social networks, Geoff Livingston, author of Welcome to the Fifth Estate: How to Create and Sustain a Winning Social Media Strategy, has some advice about how and which social networking sites to integrate into your life "for professional success and personal enjoyment."


The term "resilience" is popping up everywhere these days, writes Lucy Bernholz on her Philanthropy 2173 blog. But with all the change happening in the world and the uncertainty that comes with it, focusing on adaptability and being able to bounce back "are the keys to evolution and survival."

In a post on his blog, digital marketing and communications guru Seth Godin cuts right to the chase: "strategy matters more than ever" -- and not "changing your strategy merely because you're used to the one you have now is a lousy strategy."


Last but not least, the Packard Foundation is using the blog of visiting scholar Beth Kanter to solicit feedback on its Organizational Effectiveness program. In fact, the foundation has been conducting an extensive review of its OE strategy for some months now and has been sharing information about the process and some of the feedback it has received at a dedicate Web site. Now it is asking for comments on a draft "that outlines key elements of our refreshed strategy." For more information and to share your thoughts/concerns, visit the OE strategy refresh planning site.

That's it for this week. What did we miss? Drop us a line at

-- The Editors

Infographic: What is GrantSpace?

July 16, 2012

(This post originally appeared on the Foundation Center's Philanthropy Front and Center - Cleveland blog.)

Just how well do you know GrantSpace, the Foundation Center's online learning community for nonprofits? Did you know, for instance, that over 100,000 people visit per month, from over 200 countries? But don't let the numbers alone do the talking. Check out our new infographic to get the full perspective on what you can do at GrantSpace.

(Click the image to view in full size)


[Infographic] Understanding Social Enterprise

June 23, 2012

For a nice overview of the social enterprise universe, check out this infographic from the folks at GOOD and FedEx (h/t Jed Emerson/@BlendedValue).



Yearly U.S. Charity Checkup

June 16, 2012

In conjunction with the recent release of the 2012 Metro Market Survey, our friends at Charity Navigator, America's largest independent charity evaluator, have created their first infographic.


Charity Navigator Metro Market Infographic


Pretty cool...


Quote of the Week

  • "If you're asking me my opinion, [Edward Snowden's] going to die in Moscow. He's not coming home...."

    — Former NSA head Michael Hayden

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