Ken Goldstein, MPPA

Ken Goldstein has been working in nonprofits and local government agencies from Santa Cruz, to Sacramento, and back to Silicon Valley, since 1989. He's been staff, volunteer, board member, executive director, and, since 2003, a consultant to local nonprofit organizations. For more on Ken's background, click here. If you are interested in retaining Ken's services, you may contact him at ken at

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

More nonprofit video

About a year ago I wrote a post here called "A YouTube for Nonprofits?" about the site DoGooder TV from See 3 Media. I've recently been introduced to a new web site and production house focused on making videos for nonprofit causes: Charity Docs (dot org).

I've been very impressed with the short films I've seen on their demo site so far, and look forward to seeing more from them in the future. They see their mission as helping to connect worthy organizations to potential donors through exposure on the website and by creating a product (the video) that the organization can use in presentations, meetings, mailings, etc. Their fee for a produced video is $2,500.

Personally, I think these "Charity Docs", mini documentaries focusing on the human need and client's story more than just the organization, are a great idea. Too many of the nonprofit promo videos I've seen elsewhere focus too much on the agency and not enough on the cause. This is the type of storytelling that gets signatures on checks.

I'd like to hear from you now - Has your organization produced a video? If so, were you satisfied with it? How have you used it? Use the comment area below or send me an email telling about your experience.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Dot-Org Pride

Nearly a decade ago, when I was working for HandsNet, we put on an annual conference with our partners, CompassPoint and CompuMentor, called something like, "Surviving as a Dot-Org in Dot-Com World."

By the third year of the conference (and as I continued my involvement with the conference as CompassPoint employee) the bust had come, and it was no longer a Dot-Com world. But the Dot-Org world, it seemed, was still a few years away.

Now, TIAA-CREF has taken up the call for taking pride in our nonprofit Dot-Org status. The nonprofit financial services provider's latest ad campaign is all about "the Power of Dot-Org" (

But where our conference so long ago was aimed at other nonprofits (who else would have even understood what Dot-Org meant back then?), the TIAA-CREF campaign is aimed at the general public. Their point? That in the post-Enron world, nonprofits are more trustworthy than their corporate brothers.

This theme is summed up in one of their print headlines, "Ever heard of a .org crash?"

Of course, we know that our nonprofit sector is not entirely scandal-free, and I'm sure the public realizes that as well. But I like this campaign never-the-less, and I think it's good for all of us to take up this calling to Dot-Org pride.

By emphasizing the "power of .org" to the public, TIAA-CREF not only advertises their business, but gives us all a good publicity boost.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Still here, Back to work, Answering questions

Thanks to all my readers with being patient through a summer of irregular blogging, including this last three week silence. Vacation time is necessary to recharge the batteries, and I spent a portion of that time in Maui, and the rest of it catching back up on my work. Things should be getting back to "normal" and regular posting over the next week or so.

Yesterday I was meeting with a new potential client and we had the usual conversation where I asked the details of their programs and fundraising, and they asked me about rates and deliverables. Then, one of the women I was meeting with asked a question I'd never gotten before; "Have you ever turned down a client for ethical reasons?"

I think what she was really getting at was, will I work with just any organization, or only those I believe in. And the answer is certainly that I'm picky about with whom I work.

I've responded to a couple of inquiries from potential clients with a polite, "I'm busy, why don't you try..." That's rarely happened, but yes, I do need to be able to believe in the organization I'm trying to help. When I do turn a client down, I do still try to be respectful. While I may not agree with their cause, I acknowledge their right to do that work... with another consultant.

Missions I don't care for are not the only reason I've turned clients down, or dropped them. Here are two examples of organizations I initially thought were good, that I later decided I couldn't work with.

One began positively enough, but the ED wanted several changes in the contract, and the long negotiations over that convinced me it would not be a good working relationship. I suggested to him that "perhaps this is not a good time, why don't we talk again in six months?" My feeling is that life is too short to work with people who bring you unneeded stress.

Another organization that I did contract with for grant writing kept switching who my contact was, and more importantly, what their budget was. It became clear that while they weren't necessary crooked, they were certainly not able to manage their finances properly, and I couldn't be sure that grant money I was asking for would be spent per the proposals I was writing. I ended that relationship quickly.

So, yes, I do have criteria. I have to believe in the cause, I have to actually like the people I'll be working with, I have to know that I can accomplish the task, and I have to be sure that the results of our contract (whether a grant or a strategic plan, etc.) will be managed properly. If those criteria aren't there, I don't want to waste my time or their money.

So, how was your summer?