Just Say No – To Plastic

Single-use plastic is one of the biggest contributors to landfills and trash pollution.  [National Geographic:  Great  Pacific Garbage Patch].  We’ve all heard of “microplastics” by now [NOAA:  What are Microplastics?], and plastics can be found in measurable amounts in US waterways and water-sourced foods [USGS: Microplastics in Our Nation’s Waterways].

I could go on with the citations, but you get the idea, and this is probably not news to you.

What can you do about it?  Start making a habit of avoiding plastic.

Avoid:  Plastic bags for purchases, plastic containers for take out (or “doggy bags”), overly-packaged items (always encased in plastic).

Biggest thing to avoid?  Plastic drink containers, especially water bottles. [Earth 911:  Who are the Biggest Plastic Polluters 2021].


While corporations (see above image) are by far the largest polluters, individuals can help to move the needle toward conservation and reduction of pollution by taking consistent action to avoid contributing to the problem, and encouraging others to join in.

TrashBlitz Austin used volunteers to collect and count trash to come up with a way to reduce the use of plastic in the city of Austin.   70% of the trash picked up consisted of single-use plastic items.  One of the outcomes of this effort was the Austin Reuse Coalition with a focus on helping restaurants reduce the use of plastic.

Please do your part to reduce use of plastic, and encourage others to do so, also.  If everyone eliminated plastic bottles and plastic bags from their lives, there would be an immediate and visible reduction in pollution.  It has to start somewhere – let it start with us.




Keeping Track of Details on a Nonprofit Board

The Execupundit has a great suggestion to help boards keep track of official action over time.  He notes (and I echo his experience) that Boards often do not remember official action previously taken – particularly if time has passed.

While it is every Board Member’s duty to be aware of the action taken at all Board meetings, we humans live “in the moment” and are not wired to stop and think about whether an issue has been previously addressed.  In my experience as an attorney who advises nonprofit (and other) boards, I have witnessed more than one occasion where a Board will take action directly opposite to action taken only a few meetings previously, for the simple reason that no one remembers.

Enter the Board Historian, as recommended by the Execupundit.  This person’s duties include keeping track of all official actions of the Board, and being ready, willing, and able to remind the Board of previous action taken.

I have worked with Boards that try to address the issue of “remembering official action” by keeping a running summary of all official board action, including the date, the action taken, and whether there were any dissenting votes.  This is a good idea for use by the Board Historian.

The duties of a Board Historian can be expanded to include matters of Board and Officer dates of office and terms (including when terms expire) as well as a historic list of past officers (and terms of service), as well as the basic history of the organization (when founded, when incorporated, with copies of important documents, such as the Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws (including historic copies), and Exemption documents so that they can be easily accessed if and when needed.

If this sounds a lot like part of the Secretary’s job, you aren’t wrong (Check your bylaws to see whether your definition of the Secretary’s duties include keeping track of historic information).  However, in practice the Secretary duties have been somewhat limited to just taking notes at meetings.   Expanding the role of Secretary to include Historian – or having the Historian as a separate Board Office – is a continuous reminder of the importance of both knowing and remembering official Board Action.

Thanks for the suggestion, Execupundit – terrific idea!

If you don’t read the writings of Michael Wade, The Execupundit, I recommend you add him to your list – he writes thoughtful and intersting posts.  I especially like his “First Paragraph” series and his “Find Something Beautiful Today” series.

10 Ways to Kill Your Nonprofit

Terrific article by Mark Hager and Elizabeth Searing, published in Nonprofit Quarterly (NPQ).  Check out the link for the full article – I highly recommend that all nonprofits read it as a warning of what not to do:

Summary – 10 Ways to Kill Your Nonprofit:

  1. Overwhelm it with liabilitiesWeighed Down
  2. Operate in the red
  3. Poison the revenue mix
  4. Dehumanize your donors
  5. Stay forever young
  6. Cut your connections
  7. Stain your reputation
  8. Underinvest in infrastructure to support volunteers
  9. Chase dollars into competitive spaces; drive way from your mission
  10. Think that “good” is good enough

Giving and Need – Opportunity Index and Giving Ratio

Giving and Need Map

This is a follow up to my post of April 15 regarding the comparison of giving and religious beliefs.

Also from the Chronicle of Philanthropy, check out the article and interactive map which compares an “Opportunity Index” with a “Giving Ratio.”  The overall conclusion is that more affluent regions have a tendency to be less generous in their giving.  Again, you find that the southern part of the US and the Rocky Mountain regions are more generous givers.

“Giving Ratio” for this article is the percent of income donated to charity, as compiled from IRS Schedule A itemized deductions (I’m not sure I want to know how they obtained this information).

“Opportunity Index” is a score assigned based upon the socioeconomic measurements of different locations.

Now, you should assume that these are very, very, broad brushstrokes.  The data is by no means comprehensive, and leaves a lot of unanswered questions.  However, it might be statistically significant enough to suggest a pattern, which is all that the article does.   The percentages are not disparate enough to provide much confidence in their conclusions (that wealthier people tend to give less, and vice versa), but it is interesting to see what the numbers say about different locations.  How does YOUR county fare?

A Mismatch Between Need and Affluence