Coffee, Mice, and Impact (Feb 07)

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I hope you like our new format. The last thing I want our readers to think is that we’ve gone all corporate on you. That’s not the case believe me. For instance, staff members here managed to get the coffee machine set up just the other day but it’s still scenically poised on top of three boxes of paper — right in the middle of the room. It’s literally the only place it seemed to fit.

I have faith that we will find a better place for the coffee pot (and better coffee to go in it) but having spent my life in nonprofits, I know that such minor inadequacies don’t correlate with impact. I have spent much of my time in sub-standard offices, some shared with smaller, more scrabbly creatures — and great things happened anyway. I learned many lessons about what does and doesn’t matter — and how to focus on what is important — and how to be powerful and responsible as one among many leaders.

That’s why it’s good to see, when we look at the roster of legislative freshman at the federal level, that a number of them have come up through the ranks of nonprofits. Of course, there is nothing new or strange in this. Nonprofits occupy the same public service realm as government, and, particularly in communities that have been politically marginalized, they can be great schools for political “voice training.”

Who knows what impact having more former nonprofit types in public office will have, but we thought we would provide you with a short review of who they are. You can read Fabulous Freshmen in the 110th Congress by the intrepid Rick Cohen, NPQ’s national correspondent, online today.
Finally, if you do not already subscribe to the journal itself, you will miss the next issue, which takes up the weird financial lives of nonprofits. As someone who had to learn financial management from the ground up, I recommend it as a way to understand and better manage the crazy-quilt conundrums that are our budgets.