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Hidden in Plain Sight: Understanding Capital Structure

Capital structure is sometimes invisible but never absent. There are four principles to remember: First, and fundamentally, capital structure exists in even the smallest nonprofits; ignoring it puts an organization at risk; second, capital structure always has an impact on mission and program, and on organizational capacity; third, capital structure is linked directly to a nonprofit’s underlying business, which is distinct from, though clearly related to, its program. Fourth, healthy capital structures are difficult to maintain in nonprofits because there often are restrictions on nonprofit assets; this creates a “super-illiquidity,” or lack of financial flexibility, that makes it difficult to keep the “business” aspects of nonprofits functioning well.



Wanted: Master Storytellers


This is about storytelling: how journalists tell stories to citizens; how nonprofits tell stories to journalists to convey to citizens; how we tell stories to each other to try to make sense of what is happening to our families, neighbors, and people we don’t know. And this is a plea for better storytelling from the people in clinics and classrooms, programs and public agencies, who have their hands on America’s future.


Vertigo and the Unintentional Inhabitant


Vertigo is a state caused by being out of balance in relation to your environment. Moving from a traditional environment to a network or connected environment can cause a kind of vertigo, because the environment is so radically different. It operates by different rules and responds to different stimuli. Armed only with the perspectives and skills honed in traditional settings, one who tries to lead in a network environment can find the task unsettling and disorienting.

It’s about the Space.


Social Entrepreneurship as Fetish


What exactly does it take to be more (socially) entrepreneurial? Given the praise for the concept and the frequent calls for a more entrepreneurial nonprofit sector, one might think this basic and crucial question has an obvious answer, which is why it is almost ironic that one of the few areas of agreement in this field is that there is no agreement about how to define or operationalize social entrepreneurship. But rather than undermining its legitimacy, this lack of precision has only added to the mystique and power vested in the social entrepreneurship phenomenon. Absent any right or wrong way to conceptualize social entrepreneurship, it has transcended into a shape-shifter that can take on almost any form— or, as Humpty Dumpty formulated it: “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”