Welcome to Winter 2004

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Welcome to the Winter 2004 Nonprofit Quarterly. As of this writing, millions struggle to respond to the devastation caused by the tsunami at the same time that millions of others struggle to understand how to handle themselves responsibly within drastically changing political contexts. “Responsible leadership” is often a coded way of referring to highly competent conformity. That is not what this issue focusing on leadership is about. This issue is about “responsive leadership”—leadership that responds to history and possibility and constituents—leadership that is dedicated to shaking things up—moving on and accepting that we need to do things differently and as if we are serious about such things as eliminating poverty and AIDS and unreasonably close connections between political actors and big corporations.

We have looked at leadership in a number of ways and with many advisors helping us to set the frame. For this, start with our lead article, “Building Leadership or a Self-Reinforcing Bureaucracy?” Then the issue of generational leadership transition is addressed with unprecedented thoughtfulness by Robby Rodriguez and Frances Kunreuther. Nesly Metayer has matched the depth and integrity of Rodriguez’s piece with an unflinching look at how political history affects leadership in Haitian organizations. This is article not to be missed; it has organizational and political implications for many marginalized groups. Sandwiched between those two serious pieces is another satirical classic from Phil Anthrop: “Ten Tried and True Tips to Becoming a Leader.”

We offer three articles on boards of directors. The first two are on the role of chair of the board. To write these, we requested friends all over the country to give us the names of people they considered to be very good board chairs and we interviewed seven of these. The first article by Judy Millesen gives us a composite picture of the characteristics held in common by these individuals. The second article by Meghan Brown gives us a window into who each of these dedicated community participants are and how they think.

The third board article is “Exploring the Puzzle of Board Design.” NPQ has for some time felt that practitioners need an easy to understand, comprehensive view of the most important choices to be made in designing a board to suit a particular nonprofit. David Renz of the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership has obliged us with a treatment exceeding our expectations.

And we are pleased to welcome back one of our readers’ favorite authors in Paul Light whose article on the development patterns of highly successful nonprofits is excerpted from his new book, Sustaining Nonprofit Performance: The Case for Capacity Building and the Evidence to Support It.

An article on online fundraising and an accompanying interview with Eli Pariser of MoveOn brings us up to date on that subject. Pariser’s interview links us back to many points in the feature section. And don’t miss the buyers’ supplement article, by Jeanne Peters on accounting software. She’s a wealth of information on the topic.