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Friday, September 24, 2010

Great Nonprofit Organizations

Great Nonprofit Organizations 

As many of you know, I have worked with nonprofit organizations of all shapes and sizes over the past 40 years.  Some of these groups have multi-million dollar budgets, while others are quite small.  A number of these groups are in the animal welfare category, rescuing abused and neglected horses and donkeys as wells as lions and tigers.  Other groups raise funds to build or support world-class historic sites or museums.  Several of these organizations assist deployed American servicemen and women, as well as their families.  Still others, work to restore traditional American values, advocate for limited government, or actively pass along the Founders principles to the next generation of Americans.  It’s been a great pleasure and privilege to work with many, many fine groups and organizations.  I’ve learned much from them.
In addition to the clients served by my company, my wife, Kathi, and I have enjoyed our volunteer work with a number of nonprofit groups including Youth for Tomorrow New Life Foundation, Time of Grace Ministry, and Wisconsin Lutheran College.  It’s been very fulfilling to support such organizations and institutions.
Along the way, I’ve met some great leaders who have inspired me.  I’ve also met a few who have occasionally missed opportunities (as we all do).  These social entrepreneurs are critical to making our nation the land of caring and character that it is.  I like to think that they weave the fabric of our nation, making it richer, kinder, and gentler than it would otherwise be.
What makes a great nonprofit?  I believe that great nonprofits have the following characteristics.  This is not exhaustive, but I certainly believe these traits are essential to any great nonprofit organization.
1.     Vision.  Every great nonprofit organization is headed up by a visionary leader.  In their mind’s eye they envision great things being accomplished for the good of society.  These leaders are dreamers.  When we work for them, we see it as an opportunity to help them realize their dreams.
2.     Dedication.  Because these leaders see their dream as so important, they are singularly focused on achieving that dream.  They live modestly, and every one of them has sacrificed to turn their dreams into reality.  Their choice in life has been to serve, not to gain wealth or power or a life of ease, but rather to help do things that benefit all Americans.
3.     Focus.  They succeed because they are singularly focused on reaching their goals.  They are the kind of folks who won’t take no for an answer.  They simply find a way to get done what needs to be done.  They are not easily distracted from their mission.
4.     Team Player.  As contradictory as it may sound, the really great leaders are team players.  They don’t see themselves as having all the right ideas or brains.  They see other groups who are working toward the same or similar goals as fellow collaborators, not competitors.  To them, fulfilling the mission is far more important than their particular organization.  Accordingly, they foster and encourage others to work toward the goal and willingly collaborate with them.
5.     High Standards.  Great organizations led by great leaders have high standards.  They are completely honest in all transactions.  Their integrity is above reproach.  Because they take this route, they don’t burn bridges, they are trustworthy, and they earn a great reputation for integrity.
6.     Funding.  Organizational leaders know that in order to fulfill their goal and achieve their dreams, they must raise the funds to do so.  Great leaders take delight in talking with and meeting with donors and don’t hesitate to ask for their support.  They send out fund appeals that candidly and honestly state a strong case for supporting their cause.  They don’t view fund raising as a problem, but rather as an opportunity.
7.     Bias for Action.  While great leaders run a tight ship and are well organized, they have a bias for action.  Their organizations are flat and fast.  They push decision making to the lowest possible rung, and when an opportunity looms or a crisis occurs, they take immediate action.  It doesn’t make any difference what their size is, if the leadership has a bias for action, they can be counted on to get the job done fast when the need occurs.
8.     Accountability.  Strong and effective nonprofit leaders not only hold their employees accountable for bottom line success, they also hold themselves accountable by answering to boards of directors that include talented people that help them fulfill their mission. 
As I said, this is not an exhaustive list of the attributes of great nonprofit organizations, but I hope it gives you some idea of the type of folks and groups that are worthy of support.  Of course, I love working with such people because they inspire me with their sacrifice, dedication, and integrity.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Old Bulls Don’t Like It

The Old Bulls Don’t Like It 

The old bulls never like it when they are replaced by young bulls.  Who would?  The old bulls I’m referring to are the current leaders of the Republican Party.  They like things just the way they are.  Karl Rove may not be chronically old, be he certainly epitomizes the “Old Bulls” of the Republican Party.  They call themselves conservatives, but they are far from it.  Karl even authored a biography titled, “Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight,” and he labels himself as a conservative on FOX News. 
However, the real Karl Rove that I have known for many years revealed himself on FNC’s Hannity's America show this past Tuesday (September 14, 2010).  While I have spoken to Karl, I really don’t know him personally, but many years back I saw him in action as the leader of the “me-too” Republican forces at a Texas College Republican convention.  I was a delegate to that convention and it was the conservatives against the Karl Rove pragmatists.  To put it simply, Karl was always on the wrong side of every battle within the Republican Party when it came to liberals vs. conservatives.  Karl is a nice guy, but he’s no conservative.  He never will be.  He is the ultimate pragmatic, deal making Republican.  He’s of the go along to get along variety of Republicans.
Old Bulls like Karl Rove really dislike principled Republicans like Jim DeMint who can’t be bought.  They might say that the problem is that “you can’t do business with Jim.”  What they really mean is that he can’t be bought through committee assignments or pork barrel largesse – he can’t be controlled.
And right now the Old Bulls are scared and mad.  They endorsed and sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to “moderate” Republicans like Charlie Crist in Florida, Bob Bennett in Utah, Jane Norton in Colorado, Sue Lowden in Nevada, Trey Grayson in Kentucky, Mike Castle in Delaware, and Lisa Murkowski in Alaska, but thanks to Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund ( and Tea Party conservatives like Sarah Palin, all these go along to get along Republicans were defeated by principled conservatives. 
The Old Bulls, as epitomized by Karl Rove, have blown a gasket.  They are outraged that these upstart, can’t be bought conservatives are about to seize power in the Republican Party.  That’s why Karl Rove lost it on the Hannity’s America show.  He and the other Bulls just can’t stand the thought of men and women of uncompromising values taking over the Republican Party.  They believe these new Republicans just don’t get it.  They believe that a principled Republican can’t win.
They said exactly the same thing about Ronald Reagan when he ran for President.  They said we had to nominate a moderate Republican like Gerald Ford (1976) or George Bush ’41 (1980) in order to win.  They were wrong then and they are wrong now.  It was Ronald Reagan who carried 49 states when he ran for re-election against Walter Mondale in 1984.  That was, of course, after he cleaned Jimmy Carter’s clock in 1980, sweeping in with him a Republican majority in the US Senate.  The real lesson is that principled conservatives win and pragmatic Republicans (who raise taxes like Bush) lose.
Old Bulls like Karl Rove always say that conservatives can’t win.  That’s why they support Crist, Bennett, Norton, Lowden, Grayson, Murkowski and Castle.  In truth, it’s more than a pragmatic rationalization.  The fact is the Old Bulls are more comfortable dealing with establishment type Republicans.  They would rather be in the minority and get the best offices and the best parking spots, and the most prestigious committee appointments, the most earmarks, and all the other perks of being a princely Congressman or Senator than fight for principles.  They are, as Angelo M. Codevilla characterized them in his featured piece in the July/August 2010 issue of The American Spectator, members of “America’s Ruling Class.”  It absolutely infuriates them when they are upended by what they look upon as America’s “Country Class”—that’s you and me.
Just a day after Karl Rove lost control on Hannity’s America, Michelle Malkin appeared on the same show.  She summed up the situation nicely as outrage by the current leadership of the GOP that they are about to be ousted from power.  She characterized it as a “palace revolution.”  While the general election is a revolt against the statist policies of Barack Obama, the defeat of establishment Republican candidates by “Tea Party” conservatives is nearly as big a story.  The Republican Party bosses know their time has come and gone.  The party’s over and come November 2nd there’s going to be a new sheriff in town, only this sheriff can’t be bought or “co-opted” as suggested by former Senator, now lobbyist, Trent Lott.
That’s why Karl Rove is willing and anxious for conservative Senate candidates like Christine O’Donnell to lose.  Up until the time of Rove’s emotional outburst the polls showed O’Donnell leading her Democrat opponent, Chris Coons, in the general election.  But just a day later, thanks to Karl Rove and attacks by other members of the GOP establishment, the polls have flipped showing her losing her race for US Senate in Delaware. 
Make no mistake about it, liberal Republicans believe in rule or ruin.  At first the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) leaked out word that it would not be providing any funds to Christine O’Donnell (NRSC Chairman Senator Cornyn reversed course the next day, probably due to intense pressure from Texas conservatives).  On the heels of that was the announcement by Mike Castle (who was defeated in the primary by O’Donnell) that he would not support O’Donnell in the general election even though he had pledged to do so if he lost only a few weeks earlier.  Then came the attempted political assassination by Karl Rove. 
But you and I can answer Karl Rove and all the Old Bulls of the GOP by going to Senator Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund ( and lending our financial support to principled conservatives like Christine O’Donnell.  If we all jump on board it won’t take long for Christine O’Donnell to regain the lead in the polls and elect another conservative to the US Senate who can’t be bought.  I’ve already made my gift to help Marco Rubio (Florida), Sharron Angle (Nevada), Rand Paul (Kentucky), Mike Lee (Utah), Ken Buck (Colorado), Joe Miller (Alaska), Ron Johnson (Wisconsin), and Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania) via Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund.
I urge you to drop everything right now and click on  to elect principled conservatives to the US Senate who will fight for principle rather than make a deal.  Please lend your support to these citizen candidates today.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Same Old John McCain

The Same Old John McCain
To the surprise of no one, John McCain was successfully nominated for a fifth term as United States Senator in Arizona.  When I heard that he spent $21 million to get re-nominated, I smiled and thought of a picture of his political soul mate, Nelson Rockefeller, which appeared in National Review after losing the 1964 California Presidential Primary to Barry Goldwater.  Rockefeller was wearing a “Rockefeller for President” button and the caption under the photo was, “Like it?  I bought it in California for $5 million.”  Of course, McCain won and Rockefeller lost, but it is truly amazing that McCain felt the need to spend such a big chunk of his wife’s fortune to defeat a weak candidate who nevertheless garnered slightly more than 30% of the vote.  Ironically, without the strong endorsement of Sarah Palin, his 2008 running mate, the vote would surely have been much closer. He might have had to spend $40 million.
I watched just a few remarks made by the Senator in his victory speech.  I really chuckled when he referred to his “principles.”  Which principles would those be?  Would it be the principle of opposing a fence along the border that was dropped in favor of building one?  Would it be the principle of granting amnesty to illegal aliens that was changed to opposing amnesty?  Would it be his principle of opposition to the Bush tax cuts that he switched to support for extending them?  Would it be his advocacy, even authorship, of cap and trade (read cap and tax) legislation with Senator Lieberman which was flopped over to opposition in order to get re-nominated?  Would it be his opposition to earmarks while at the same time scarfing up earmark money for Arizona?  Would it be his vocal opposition to the Supreme Court ruling against McCain-Feingold, which turned to silence during his primary race?  Would it be his Presidential campaign pledge to be a maverick and go across the aisle which changed to strong opposition in order to undercut his primary opponent?

In fairness, John McCain’s not much different than most of the Republicans and Democrats in Washington.  They only have one principle that is unbreakable—do anything, say anything, promise anything to get re-elected.  They think of themselves not as public servants, but as potentates.  They have special places to park, special places to eat, a special gym to use and in all circumstances they are deferred to as the ruling class.

This is what John McCain and his ilk are all about.  Power, prestige, and wealth (which he married into) are what give the Senator his personal significance.  Like many others in Washington, power, prestige and wealth serve as their counterfeit gods.

The main stream left was, of course, glad to hear that Senator McCain had been re-elected.  David Broder, the so-called “dean” of Washington, DC journalists wrote in The Washington Post on August 26:

“I did not begrudge him the $20 million he spent to win Tuesday's primary, or whatever amount it was.  Nor was I bothered by the doctrinal compromises the Senator made to convince Arizona voters that he was, in fact, a conservative.  McCain has always been a realist, doing what was necessary to survive a North Vietnamese prison camp or a tough political trap.  His 2000 embrace of George W. Bush -- a man he had every reason to dislike -- showed his practicality, and it made possible his own presidential nomination in 2008.”

About McCain and the GOP, Broder said:

“What it does need badly is adult leadership, and it's now incumbent on McCain to demonstrate that he is prepared to fulfill this role for both his party and his country.”

With more candor and less syrup, USA Today editorialized on the same day:

“To pass muster with this year’s angry GOP electorate, McCain—an incumbent with years of service, a record of accomplishment and bipartisan admiration—renounced much of what he has stood for in a valiant and remarkable career.

“Perhaps he will return to his maverick ways. We certainly hope so.”

It’s so nice to hear that David Broder and USA Today have the best interest of the Republican Party at heart.  Of course they would never support a winning Republican like Ronald Reagan.  They love “me too” Republicans like McCain.  Their formula never changes – fill up the GOP with RINOs so that their liberal agenda will prevail.

The liberal media is consistent, if boring.  They endorse liberal Republicans in the primaries, but, of course, they don’t support them in the general election.  Like Nelson Rockefeller and Hugh Scott and Chuck Percy before him, John McCain bends and compromises and crosses the aisle to help pass the liberal agenda that they love.  They play the music and he dances to the tune.  What’s not to love about a guy that supports your agenda and is no threat to win a national election?

But not all Republicans in the US Senate are like John McCain.  In fact, there are a number of reliable, principled conservatives in the Senate, men like Jim DeMint.  DeMint, who, along with a number of others, belong to a special class of Senators in Washington, DC who can’t be bought.  Speaking of those who can be bought, former Republican Senator Trent Lott, now a highly paid lobbyist, agonized over the possibility of principled conservatives being elected to the US Senate in an interview with The Washington Post:

“We don't need a lot of Jim DeMint disciples.  As soon as they get here, we need to co-opt them.”

That’s the attitude of the ruling class toward the average American.  To the typical politician, getting elected is all important, and adhering to the principles of limited government as codified in the United States Constitution come in a distant second place.

God save us from unprincipled men (and women), regardless of the Party they represent.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Common Sense Government

Common Sense Government 
In an age where common sense is in scarce supply, especially among the political class in Washington, DC, it is more than refreshing to see what Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and the Republican-led House of Delegates have accomplished in the Old Dominion.
McDonnell inherited a huge budget shortfall caused by the irresponsible spending of his predecessor, Governor Tim Kaine, and his Democrat cohorts in the state legislature.  Just two years ago the Commonwealth’s budget hole was $4.2 billion.  That’s the mess that Governor McDonnell and his Republican team inherited.
Immediately upon the election of Bob McDonnell, The Washington Post (which, of course, supported a Tim Kaine clone, Creigh Deeds) intoned in a lead editorial that McDonnell would have to break his pledge of no new taxes.  It was, in the Post’s view, the only possible solution to the budget shortfall problem.  Big business leaders joined the Post in calling for new taxes.  That’s a lot of pressure on a new Governor and there’s no doubt about it, raising taxes would have been the easy way out.  But McDonnell and the conservative leadership in the state legislature did not take the easy way out.  They put the citizens of Virginia first, not the government first.
Last week the Commonwealth of Virginia closed fiscal 2010 with a budget surplus of nearly $400 million.  This is an amazing turnaround and a huge triumph for commonsense government.  Some may point out that it was the state legislature that really led the way and that user fees were imposed in several areas.  Even the Journal noted that it took a bit of creative accounting to balance the books.  Nevertheless, McDonnell led the way.  He inherited a nearly bankrupt state, but with the assistance and prodding of conservative leaders in the state legislature, put the brakes on spending, and thus put the financial house of Virginia in order. 
As a citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia, I greatly appreciate such commonsense leadership.  It’s the kind of leadership that is desperately needed in Washington, DC.  Only a fool would believe that he can spend his way into prosperity. 
Stimulus spending is an intellectual fantasy of the left.  Where does the money that the government spends come from?  It comes from hard working Americans, that’s who.  Commonsense tells us that you can’t help Americans by spending their hard earned dollars on folly and foolishness.  You can’t help them by bailing out irresponsible leadership in states like California.  You can’t help them by bailing out state employee unions or by expanding government.
Out of control spending by Franklin Roosevelt exacerbated a Depression that was coming to an end in 1932.  Out of control spending by Barack Obama can turn a mild recession into a replay of the Great Depression.
Ronald Reagan proved once and for all that the only way out of a recession (and he inherited a beaut from Jimmy Carter) is to put more money back into the hands of the people.  It is only when you reduce the tax burden for all Americans, reduce the size of government, and cut government spending that you can expand prosperity. 
There’s an important lesson in this.  It’s a simple lesson.  Liberal Democrats like Tim Kaine and Barack Obama are spendthrifts who always raise taxes and expand government.  Conservative Republicans like Bob McDonnell and Ronald Reagan cut taxes and contract government.  The liberal path always leads to less freedom and economic misery.  The conservative path always leads to more freedom and greater prosperity for all.
Which path will America take in November?