Hmm. What do you do when you're the 98-year-old tradition-rich Girls Scouts of America -- the world's largest organization for girls -- and you think your logo just doesn't do the job anymore? The GSA recently updated theirs in a very subtle way. I understand the pressures to change logos, having been through this arduous process myself with several organizations.
But looking back on those mind-numbing experiences, I've come to the conclusion that most nonprofits just don't spend that much time in front of their constituent's eyes for them to make changes in how they present themselves. The vast majority of nonprofits can ill-afford to advertise to reinforce their brand, and even when they utilize the onslaught of new media to heighthen the experience, it just isn't enough to allow them to do so in a way that truly resonates meaningfully with folks.
The acid test for the GSA a year from now would be to ask people in their own office which logo is the new one. I'll bet no more than 10% could distinguish the old one from the new one. Oh... and just to add insult to injury, I wonder how much they paid for their new logo? Don't think I won't be considering that little bon mot this year when those little thugs come around peddling their cookies.
Ed Driscoll points to the unbelievable plan by BHO to fund Palestinian terrorists in Gaza... but then, why should we be surprised by this? Really.
The United States will contribute $400 million in development aid to the Palestinian territories and work with Israel to loosen its embargo on Gaza, President Barack Obama said Wednesday.Obama’s announcement came after White House talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The money will be used to build housing, schools, water and health care systems in both the Palestinian Authority-controlled West Bank and Gaza, which is ruled by the Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas.
Let me get this straight. Our economy has cratered. Unemployment is nearly 10 percent. The national debt is expected to exceed our gross national product by next year. And we’re giving $400,000,000 to our mortal enemies in Gaza?
$400,000,000 to the Hamas-led death cult allied with Iran and Syria? $400,000,000 to the people who celebrated the destruction of the twin towers? $400,000,000 to rain thousands more rockets upon Israeli women and children?
The Right, the Left and everyone in between needs to raise hell.
With all due respect, Mr. Driscoll, I'm really going to wait for that to happen. I wonder if we're just numb to it all by now.
Many so-called financial “experts” are comparing
our present financial conditions to the Great Depression. And why shouldn’t
they? With recent headlines like No
Signs of Recovery in Jobs Report, Weak Retail and Price Data Dim Hopes of Quick Recovery, and
countless others hourly bombarding the American people, it’s hard to keep any
perspective beyond that of the media’s doom and gloom. One of the first things
I learned in my Journalism 101 class many years ago is simply this: Bad news
sells, and good news is no news at all. But I think if we could all take
a deep breath or two and compare reality to truth, we might gain a little perspective on things.
One of the things I learned in my
Freshman Econ class those same long years ago is that an economic depression is
simply any economic downturn where real Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
declines by more than 10 percent. Applying this method, then the Great
Depression of the 1930s can be easily be seen as two separate events: an
incredibly severe depression lasting from August 1929 to March 1933 where real
GDP declined by almost 33 percent, a period of recovery, then another less
severe depression of 1937-38 where real GDP declined by 18.2 percent. The U.S. hasn’t had anything even close to a depression since the post-WWII period. The worst recession in the last 60 years was from November 1973 to March 1975, where real GDP fell by 4.9 percent.
In fact, since 1970 the GDP has
only fallen more than one percent once, and that was in 1982 when it fell 1.9
percent. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the GDP decreased by
only 0.5 percent in the third quarter of 2008 – one-half of one percent. While
the decrease in the fourth quarter of 2008 was significantly higher – 5.6
percent – the newspapers had a field day with headlines screaming, “U.S. GDP
Shows Biggest Drop in 27 Years,” planting even more seeds of fear and doubt. As
the media portray this decline as a harbinger of impending doom, I think it is
only fair to remind everyone, as stated in the above paragraph, the GDP
plummeted in the early 1930s by almost 33 percent.
In the four years from 1929
through 1933, about 10,000 out of the 25,000 banks in the United States
disappeared (source: Business and Media Institute). Take. A. Breath. It’s not
even close to anything like that today. Currently our nation supports
approximately 8,400 banking institutions. The recently updated Federal Deposit
Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Failed Bank
List shows a total of 75 bank closings between October 13, 2000 and April 10, 2009. But please keep in mind there was no FDIC during the Great Depression, so there were no federally insured deposits, which resulted in the chaotic and panic-driven run on the banks as depositors rushed to get their money out before the banks folded. Today,
however, the FDIC guarantee is up to $250,000 per account. That means there
will be no run on the banks as there was during the Great Depression.
The media have been relentless in their
focus on home foreclosures. Mortgage foreclosure rates have risen. But the
truth of this economic matter is that the buying frenzy between 2000 and 2005
caused home prices to more than double. But you don’t need me to remind you
that incomes surely didn’t parallel this trend. At the same time, financial
institutions made money more accessible to buyers by easing mortgage
qualification regulations. And the simple truth is that careless lending
practices can be blamed for many of the foreclosures we are seeing today. The
mortgage foreclosure rate during the Great Depression was approximately 50
percent. In August of 2008, the national foreclosure rate was 4.4 percent. It
may be a little higher now, but it’s not even close to what it was in the 1930s. The
truth is that the U.S. has been long overdue for a major adjustment
from the unsound lending practices of the last few decades. For example,
illegal aliens and others who had no way to pay back their loans were receiving
subprime home loans with government guarantees. That’s beyond bad business – it’s
wrong… but when has ethics ever gotten in the way of business in America?
In fact, hang with me as we look a
little closer at this development, because this is really the heart of the
matter. A wide array of evidence has long pointed toward minorities accounting
for a disproportionate number of the defaulted subprime mortgage losses that
set off the economic crash. This would hardly be surprising since the
government pushed hard to increase lending to minorities of marginal creditworthiness
in the name of increasing minority homeownership. President Clinton, who said
that he wanted his legacy to be that everyone in America would be able to afford a home,
teamed up with leftist groups like BHO’s partners-in-crime at ACORN to push for
more lending to minorities. According to the Federal Home Mortgage
Disclosure Act database, minorities
got half the subprime cash (for home purchases and refinancings) handed out in
the boom years of 2004-2007.
Those were GWB years, but pay that
no mind. There are many who suspect he was only looking to convert said
minorities into loyal Republican voters. And of course some critics blame
President Bush simply because he supported broadening homeownership. But
President Bush’s goal was for people to own homes they could afford, not ones made accessible by reckless lenders who
off-loaded their risk to Fannie and Freddie. The housing meltdown is largely a
story of greed and irresponsibility made possible by government, i.e.
congressional, privilege. The reality is if Democrats had granted the Bush
administration the regulatory powers it sought, the housing crisis wouldn’t be
nearly as severe and the economy as a whole would be better off.
For a little more perspective on
things, consider this: It took Fannie and Freddie over three decades to acquire
$2 trillion in mortgages and mortgage-backed securities. Together, they held
$2.1 trillion in 2000. By 2005, the two government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs)
held $4 trillion, up a spectacular 92 percent in just five years. By 2008, they’d
grown another 24 percent, to nearly $5 trillion – and between them they held
almost half of all American mortgages.
The more President Bush pushed for
reform, the more paper Fannie and Freddie bought. Peter Wallison of the
American Enterprise Institute and Charles Calomiris of the Columbia Business School suggest $1
trillion of this debt was subprime and “liar loans,” almost all purchased
between 2005 and 2007. This build-up in funny money made it possible for banks
to lend recklessly on a substantial scale.
But I digress. From 1999 to 2006, mortgage
dollars (prime and subprime) for home purchases loaned to Hispanics went up a
whopping 691 percent and 397 percent for blacks (but only 218 percent for
Asians and about 100 percent for whites). As fate would have it, a sizable
majority of defaulted dollars lost are in just four heavily Hispanic states: California, Arizona, Nevada, and Florida. But I guess that’s a subject for
As much fun as all this stuff is
to write about, what we really need to consider is, What has all this led to?
Let’s start by considering this:
The 1981-82 recession last lasted 16 months and was followed by an explosive
largely to the Reagan tax cuts (even though they were slowly
implemented). The current downturn, according to the National Bureau of
Economic Research, started in December 2007. Is the current recession
ending? I don’t know. Haven’t got a clue. But now that we no longer have GWB to
kick around, let’s take a quick look at where BHO is on things.
It will be his decision to
forego deep and permanent new tax cuts, his decision to not extend the
Bush tax cuts, his decision on how to spend the remaining $350 billion in TARP
money, his decision to quasi-nationalize healthcare, his decision to push
a cap-and-trade carbon emission program, and his decision to spend hundreds of
billions on a “green” industrial policy. From all appearances, it even looks to
be his decision to reunionize the American labor force, since he’s pretty much
in the unions’ collective back pocket now.
If the White House was under the
impression that what the capital markets need to recover was a full-out public
relations exercise from Obama, Bernanke and Summers, as witnessed the other day,
said White House was sadly mistaken. Case in point: After these leaders addressed
the nation, the U.S.< equity market dropped over -1 percent. On a day that started badly, and then got worse, not even extensive pro-BHO TV coverage of the A-Team was able to turn things around.
Here’s the problem: The public is
clamoring for an end to TARP and the bailout mania. That’s a key message coming
from this week’s tea parties that have cropped up spontaneously around the
country. This is evolving into a real grassroots uprising against rising taxes,
TARP, and all the federal bailouts—and the trillions of dollars of deficits and
debt being used for financing.
If BHO and his merry band of
cohorts ignore this unrest, it will be a guaranteed one-term administration,
which means it will do as much damage as it can in the next 31/2
years. So the
net widens. While commercial banks of all sizes are increasingly profitable and
are willing and able to pay
back their TARP money, the Treasury Department is now proposing to extend TARP
funds to life-insurance companies, most of which are in absolutely no danger of
failing. No one has proven that life-insurance companies constitute true
systemic risk to the financial system. This is nothing but a financial mugging
“bailout” and I use the term with a certain amount of creative license since
none of these insurers has failed. And for those several that are in danger, I
wonder if a simple bankruptcy proceeding might be more appropriate than additional
It comes down to this: We are
already on the hook for the banks, GM and Chrysler, and don’t forget we’re getting
hosed for guaranteed government-backed GM warranties. And the banks themselves seem
to be preparing to go to war against an administration that wants
to maintain control over the big-bank sector to prevent the banks from
paying off TARP. It’s as if BHO and Friends are saying, “Screw the taxpayers. We’re
Democrats. This is about government control.”
Coming up next: What does all this mean for the faith-based nonprofit sector?
Cartoon by Steve Kelley, New Orleans Times-Picayune.
From Nick Fellers at the always noteworthy For Impact comes comes a bullet list on Making
Things Happen After a Visit:
24-Hour Follow-Up Rule
to get out our follow-up emails/letters within 24 hours... no matter what. If
we wait to write the perfect proposal or pitch, with time, it (1) takes more
effort and (2) we lose momentum. I'll take 80% perfect at 24 hours over 90% perfect
in three weeks.
doesn't kill... time does.
It's a RELATIONSHIP
is to maximize the RELATIONSHIP at any given time. Funding is a function of the
relationship - not the world's best proposal. Think more about communication
and follow-up in terms of a relationship and not a transaction - this will help
Re: Referrals - think about
ONE ACTION item and a manageable time line.
great that prospects are saying they're going to open doors. Focus on ONE
action and make it happen. "We're all about momentum and everyone is busy.
To keep the ball rolling, can we talk about making one phone call in the next
action will lead to more. Undefined action leads to no action.
"Can you get me a
someone asks this we need to simplify on the spot.
thing... are you an email person?" (everyone is)
it be okay if I summarized points from our conversation in bullet point form
and shot that back by email?"
yourself HOURS by converting 'proposals' to 'bullet points.'
Ball is always in your court.
getting a lot of great 'pending requests'... if someone says, "give me a
few days and I'll get back to you." We need to say, "That's great. If
I don't hear from you by Friday, I'll follow-up next week."
Email is for follow-up notes.
Use the phone to make things happen.
Be a closer. Always.
attitude. Your ability to close translates to lives saved, impacted and
transformed. This isn't about some 'business jargon'... it's about real
stuff... important stuff. We either believe it or we don't. And, if we do, then
we need to close. If we don't - let's quit now.
Magazine publisher Larry Flynt (pictured above) and Joe Francis, the man who
single-handedly (no, really) revived Cinéma vérité with his series of Girls
Gone Wild documentaries, have written to congressmen Henry Waxman and
- appropriately enough - Barney Frank (who oversees the House's Financial Services Committee) asking for
a $5 billion bailout of the porn industry. Apparently, according to industry stats, XXX DVD
sales are off by some 22%.
the Shell station near my house here in the bustling metropolis of Beech Grove, IN is $1.40/gal., which is pretty good, though not as low as it was a few weeks ago. I think it will go lower, though. The gas station at the Wal-Mart across the interstate keeps everybody pretty honest.
In the latest ish of Atlantic Online, Megan McArdle
takes on financial
workers vs. auto workers. She starts with this
post at Obsidian Wings, which breathlessly points out a bizarre line of reasoning that seems incongruous yet
strangely chronic in parts of the blogosphere:
financial executives helped cause the present meltdown. Auto workers did not.
financial executives run their firms, and are responsible for their troubles.
Auto workers and their union, by contrast, just got themselves a good deal by
bargaining with management. That's their prerogative. I don't see that they're
any more to blame for the problems of the Big Three than people who accept
unduly large cash back bonuses on their new cars would be, had the Big Three
miscalculated and given away more in cash-back bonuses than they could afford.
Financial executives have just destroyed a tremendous amount of value and
ruined the global economy. Auto workers have been busy creating useful things.
exchange for destroying value, financial executives get paid a whole lot more
than auto workers. Orders of magnitude more. They even get multi-million dollar
performance bonuses when their firms lose money! And their benefits are a lot
more cushy: not just good health care but private
jets and chauffeurs!
Punishing financial executives helps reduce moral hazard. Punishing auto
workers does not.
then offers a little perspective, something sadly lacking in Detroit these days:
executives have been fired in large numbers and taking pay cuts that reduced
their income to a fraction of what was expected six months ago. Auto workers
have not. Financial firms are in the process of laying off hundreds of
thousands of their best paid workers (50,000 at Citibank alone); auto firms are
of the financial industry, and the vastly reduced pay prospects of its workers,
seem entirely reasonable to me, though of course extremely sad for people who
put themselves through expensive rounds of schooling in order to secure luxe
jobs on Wall Street which have now disappeared leaving them broke and trying to
sell the houses and cars they can no longer afford into a panicked local
market. But I am fairly sure that the auto workers do not want the deal, as a
class, that those rapacious financial executives have been given, which
includes horrifying job insecurity, massive paycuts at the discretion of their
managers, and for many or most of them, the knowledge that they will almost
certainly never again earn a tenth of what they had set their lives up to
. . . In short, if Detroit were given the deal that the
financial industry has actually gotten, rather than the deal that they got in
the pervasive blogger fantasy world where everyone in the industry is using
government funds to continue exactly as they were before, Ron Gettlefinger
would hardly be a happy man.
Expect to see more of this from both sides in the weeks and months ahead.
there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?!"
Difficult as it may be to believe, Christmas was complex even way back in 1965. Charlie Brown's disheartened
plea originated back in a day when things were a little less complicated and much
less consumer-driven than they are now… during a time when there were fewer
divided families (and divided Christmases) than there are now.
At our little church we have vowed to keep the Christmas Story simple. I am
weary of gazillion- dollar productions that can never even come close to what a
simple reading of scripture can. Let the profound truth of Christ break through
the confusion of consumer-driven life. We have the One Message that matters. We
have great reason to celebrate.
favorite philosopher hits nuthin’ but net on this timeless video.
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the
fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an
angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around
them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will
be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city
of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in
swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with
the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
May your Christmas be filled with the love that
changed the world.
Haggard will have his own HBO special titled “The
Trials of Ted Haggard” at the end of January. It’s produced by Alexandra
Pelosi, and if that name sounds just a little familiar, she’s the daughter of
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Oh, and Haggard is going on the necessary
junket to promote his documentary.
I simply cringed when I heard about this documentary and its promotion, I’m
also aware that we need to uphold the biblical truth that God’s grace and
forgiveness runs deep in all our lives, and is abundantly available and active
for Ted and his family. Certainly we can all pray that God will restore and recreate Ted’s
personal and family life. After all, God did not cast him out of His Kingdom for what he did - although, many
Christians would have liked that, I'm sure - and he is still a wounded member of the Body of
Christ. Certainly, the Scripture verse about being wise as serpents applies here, but God is faithful
to redeem us, even when we mess up so spectacularly.
Harry Markopolos, who once worked in a trading firm that competed with Bernard
Madoff's, for nine years has been trying to persuade staffer after staffer at
the Securities and Exchange Commission that Mr. Madoff's operation was a fraud.
The agency never brought charges.
A week after Mr. Madoff was arrested in an alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme,
Mr. Markopolos was vindicated. Internal SEC documents show how the agency,
prompted in 2006 to investigate by Mr. Markopolos's complaints, found serious
violations at Mr. Madoff's firm, but took no public action. These documents
show the SEC found some violations at Mr. Madoff's firm in 2006-07, but didn't
take action on allegations that it was a Ponzi scheme.
Dec. 16, 2008
SEC Chairman Christopher Cox said initial findings of an investigation into the
commission's handling of the Bernard Madoff case are "deeply
troubling." In a statement, Mr. Cox said the investigation has discovered
that Mr. Madoff "kept several sets of books and false documents, and
provided false information involving his advisory activities to investors and to
Mr. Cox said the SEC had "credible and specific allegations" going
back to at least 1999 that were not aggressively pursued by the staff. The
agency relied only on Mr. Madoff's voluntary production of statements and
reports and never carried out subpoenas of other information, in what he described as
He also said any SEC staff members who knew Mr. Madoff were recused from the
current investigation. http://online.wsj.com?mod=djemalertNEWS
November, 1994, I started work as media director for an international ministry.
My first day on the job, the president of the organization came into the board
room during the Monday morning staff meeting and said, "John Bennett is on
the phone from New Era and said if he can keep our $500,000 for another six
months he'll double it!"
The room buzzed with excitement as everyone considered what $1 million dollars
would do for the projects in various parts of the world. Being new, I leaned over
to the individual next to me -- the director of administration -- and quietly
said, "Gee, I know I'm new here, but where I come from in San Diego we would look at that as a Ponzi
scheme. Am I missing something here?"
The man sighed and muttered back, "No, you're not missing a thing. You and
I are the only ones in the room who think we're going to get bit in the butt on
Long (and very interesting) story short: We did get bit in the butt. And when
the story broke the following May on the front page of the Wall Street Journal,
I took the paper into the administrator's office and laid it on his desk with a
soft warning: "We're on Page 8. I want all media inquiries running through
my office. No one talks to the president or the CEO. And no one comments to the
media except me. Period. Oh, and I probably should have bet you dinner and
drinks on this happening."
John Bennett is out of prison now. According to Arlin M. Adams, a Philadelphia attorney appointed by a judge to
look for the lost money in the New Era scheme, about 95 percent of the $354
million Bennett collected from churches, colleges and cultural institutions was
I thought people would have learned from that. But apparently not. I guess
organizations and individuals will bypass due diligence (and there was plenty
of it available with New Era) when the payout is big enough. And the talk is
And Tom at The Agitator finds the whole thing more than a little ironic, as well.
2-3 years have seen a surge in heavy reflection on the part of donors on the
matter of evaluating the credibility and performance of would-be nonprofit
recipients of their largesse. Are the donations really getting through to the
ultimate beneficiaries who need them? Which charities are spending "too
much" on overhead? Of the competing charities working in the same field,
whose performance is best? Etc.
Oh! … the
strain of being a responsible donor! Probably a similar stress to movie stars
it turns out that it’s the donors who should be under the microscope, lest they
be outright criminals like Bernard Madoff! Now we have worthy charities screwed
by greedy SOBs like Madoff. How is your typical charity supposed to protect
itself from the likes of him?
And as Stephanie Strom reports in the NY Times, the impact of a
slimeball like Madoff isn’t limited to his own personal charities. Indeed the
far greater impact is on all the other perfectly respectable wealthy donors
who, defrauded by Madoff, now find that they have significantly less money to
give away … leaving their charities in the lurch.
supposed to be protecting the charities from the unscrupulous donors?!
press reports that the SEC chief admits that his watchdog agency never
investigated Madoff’s activities despite years of complaints. But let one
nonprofit emit an errant fart and grandstanding Members of Congress and the IRS
would be all over it (the nonprofit, that is) like ticks on a hound.
we’ve seen very little by way of punishment meted out to the financial thugs
who have eviscerated the global financial world, triggering in turn
economy-wide hardship. Where are public stocks in the town square when we need
I would love to see an investigation of the SEC at some point.
aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity, took back David Axelrod's remark
last month that Barack Obama and Rod Blagojevich had spoken recently.
"What the president-elect said today is correct, David Axelrod
misspoke," the aide said. -Ben Smith -
Man, I had forgotten how much I dug this song. Lifted shamelessly from the always brilliant Vanderleun atAmerican Dream. Treat yourself and go over to American Dream and read the lyrics along with the video. More proof that Mick Jagger is one of the greatest rock & roll songwriters ever.