Author Topic: Fail-tastic anti-Mustachianism in the non-profit sector, drama in 3 acts  (Read 26555 times)

stylesjl

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Re: Fail-tastic anti-Mustachianism in the non-profit sector, drama in 3 acts
« Reply #100 on: January 18, 2017, 11:46:15 PM »
I finally got the upload utility to work at Amazon's KDP. It turns out the problem was with my browser.

So, Sustainable Non-Profit Management is now available in electronic form on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, iBooks, and a bunch of other online retailers.

OK, I'm done shilling for now.
A shilling that got you a sale, since I'm running out of things to read on my kindle.

TheGrimSqueaker

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Re: Fail-tastic anti-Mustachianism in the non-profit sector, drama in 3 acts
« Reply #101 on: January 19, 2017, 09:57:05 AM »
So, here's another tale of non-profit failure that didn't make it into the book. You guys deserve something extra for your patience.

The Great Food Fight

My mother was always involved with various school parent-teacher associations. The PTA in Alberta public and separate schools at the time did more than just raise money for school activities. They used parent labor to subsidize costs of education. For example, they'd host used book sales where kids could get their take-home textbooks at or below cost, and they sold on consignment for only a small percentage to maximize the amount families could get out of the books. The percentage they collected went to subsidize the cost of loaner books so that even the poorest kids had access. It was a useful service that benefited everyone.

Among these labor-based service activities was a cafeteria initiative. Most junior and senior high school students brought a lunch, but the cafeteria included a food preparation and service area. The PTA would buy fruit, carrots, sandwich fixings, and milk and juice boxes in bulk quantities. Every day a different group of parents would get together and slice the cheese, make and wrap the sandwiches, and label everything. It was a clean, easy operation. Everyone wore gloves and the sandwiches were kept in the fridge until they were needed.

These were tasty, well-stuffed sandwiches made with the best ingredients. The parents didn't stint when piling on the corned beef or the turkey breast. The cheese was real cheddar, the bread was rye or good durum wheat, and the condiments were fresh. Nobody was afraid to put on an extra slice of pickle or to slather on the peanut butter and jelly. If there was a kid who had allergies all it took was a word to a parent who could make up a custom sandwich on the spot if needed. The parents knew it was their kids they were feeding, so they made up the food exactly as if they were at home. Sometimes, for special occasions, homemade cookies were available.

The food was bought in bulk and sold at just above cost, so it was possible for a kid to eat very well and have a fresh sandwich, a piece of fruit, some carrot sticks and either milk or juice for about $2 in today's dollars. No candy or junk food was offered. But if a child who had forgotten his or her lunch (or who was in a bad situation at home and wasn't being fed), that child went to the office and got a slip of paper from the school counselor or the office secretary to hand to the cashier. The savings came from two things: the fact the food was bought in bulk, and the fact the labor was free.

When the lunch bell rang, the parents pulled the trays of sandwiches out of the fridge and the teens converged on the lunchroom. Sometimes they had to eat in shifts, because the junior high school and high school shared the same lunchroom. I do believe the parents who were able to work the lunchroom liked having a glimpse of their child during the school day. Most of the parents who volunteered were either of the stay-at-home persuasion or shift workers who came in on a day off. This improved lunchroom discipline overall, and it also helped to feed a group of kids who wouldn't otherwise have had access to lunch. Furthermore, since several parents were making the sandwiches it offered kids a chance to try something different.

Naturally, something that works this well and runs this smoothly will eventually be fucked with by a bureaucrat. I heard the story secondhand from my mother. Actually, I was eavesdropping as she dished the details to one of her best friends. She later shared the story with me, minus the expletives, but I've filled them back in to the extent I am able.

Along came the school board, who insisted that the work be "supervised" by a properly trained union employee with appropriate credentials in cafeteria management. The fact that the volunteer group included a professional cook and a restaurant owner already didn't count: it had to be a member of the union. Or else. Because quality.

"Fine," said the parents. "Go on and send him or her. We might be able to learn something."

Well... there was a problem. You see, the school board wasn't going to pay for that employee to be there. The money to pay his or her wage, plus taxes and benefits, had to come out of the food being sold in the cafeteria. So the PTA called an emergency meeting.

"I have a solution," said the school board administrator, who produced a spreadsheet. "Just start buying basic white bread instead of premium bread, switch to processed cheese instead of cheddar and Swiss, take the jelly out and go easy on the peanut butter, and lay off the pickles, lettuce, and tomato. Swap out the turkey breast and corned beef with bologna. The kids won't know the difference. And, have you considered getting day-old bread?"

The parents conferred. Someone ran the numbers and realized her son wouldn't be able to get the extra protein he needed as a growing student athlete who worked out twice a day. Another woman spoke up and asked whether anyone really knew what went into processed cheese. Nobody did. It was pretty obvious that the kids would indeed notice the difference, if they were suddenly asked to eat a bunch of crap their parents wouldn't consider buying or serving at home.

"We could manage it," said one of the PTA volunteers with an accounting background, "if we raise prices by a factor of two to three. Basically we'd be starting a business."

"A business lots of these kids can't afford to buy from," said another parent. "And what are the kids with no lunches going to do?

"They're asking us to work for free in order to pay the wage of someone who's not going to do anything except sit around. Who do they think they are: the government?" This man got a laugh, but then someone pointed out that the school board technically is government.

When the dust settled, nobody had been run through the cheese slicer or stuffed in a cupboard but one thing was certain. There was absolutely no way to accommodate the bureaucrat's demands without sacrificing quality, price, or both. So the parents voted unanimously to end the school sandwich operation and let the school board do whatever it wanted, without their involvement.

Shortly afterwards, the school boards started to contract out the high school cafeterias out to a catering company that started selling burgers, fries, soft drinks, candy, chips, and not much else at prices comparable with any fast food joint. Not much money can be made that way, so turnover was frequent. The kids got greasy slop to eat and continued to bring their lunches from home so they'd have something edible. A contractor made money at least for a while, the school board got to check a box, the union collected their dues, nutrition took a nose dive, and the poorer kids went hungry again.

jinga nation

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Re: Fail-tastic anti-Mustachianism in the non-profit sector, drama in 3 acts
« Reply #102 on: January 19, 2017, 10:37:16 AM »
TGS you've delivered again. Thank you for the describing a cluster fuck of epic proportions. Or as I prefer, the 'jerking off the elephant while standing on your dick".
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And why did this not make the book?

okits

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Re: Fail-tastic anti-Mustachianism in the non-profit sector, drama in 3 acts
« Reply #103 on: January 19, 2017, 11:43:15 AM »
the poorer kids went hungry again.
Oh, fucking awful.  Facepunch to the bureaucrat.

TheGrimSqueaker

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Re: Fail-tastic anti-Mustachianism in the non-profit sector, drama in 3 acts
« Reply #104 on: January 19, 2017, 12:36:01 PM »
TGS you've delivered again. Thank you for the describing a cluster fuck of epic proportions. Or as I prefer, the 'jerking off the elephant while standing on your dick".
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And why did this not make the book?

There wasn't room.

By the time I finished cutting, the book was still just under 130,000 words plus charts, diagrams, and tables. That's enormous for a nonfiction trade paperback. Those generally max out around 85,000 words and E-books are supposed to be half that. I narrowed the focus of the book as much as I could, while still having a book that can stand on its own merits and appeal to a general audience. Basically, I cloned my perspective and skill set so that anyone who reads the book, assuming they can do 6th or 7th grade math, will be able to do what I do. There's just no way to get all the business and law concepts across, along with basic cash flow, fundraising, and program management, in less space.

I chopped out enough social warfare theory to fill three good-sized eBooks, and all the longer stories and examples got cut. I kept very few personal stories, and only the ones that showed somebody successfully solving a problem or experiencing the predictable consequences of stupid behavior. The parents in the PTA story were doing everything right, they just got caught in an impossible situation because of a stupid decision by a government official.

No Name Guy

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Re: Fail-tastic anti-Mustachianism in the non-profit sector, drama in 3 acts
« Reply #105 on: January 19, 2017, 01:24:27 PM »
Hmmmm....school union thugs fuck over people children for their own purposes.  Check.


dandarc

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Re: Fail-tastic anti-Mustachianism in the non-profit sector, drama in 3 acts
« Reply #106 on: January 19, 2017, 02:09:24 PM »
Posting to follow - epic stories, don't want to miss if another one pops up!

craiglepaige

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Re: Fail-tastic anti-Mustachianism in the non-profit sector, drama in 3 acts
« Reply #107 on: January 19, 2017, 02:55:34 PM »
I'm a bilingual person (Spanish/English - working on becoming trilingual by learning Portuguese) and although speaking/reading/writing two languages is extremely rewarding, I would pay a small fortune to have the total control you posses of the English language.

Your writing skills are on par with those of my favorite writers in Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende. (Yes, they are Spanish writers but it translates the same). Their mastery of words and their utilization, which turns them into amazing mental visuals, is phenomenal and so is yours.

I can't thank you enough for being a member of this forum and sharing your anecdotes. After I'm done with my writing I'll be sure to start reading your book. I'll be downloading it from Amazon tomorrow.

Did I see correctly that you have a second book coming out at the end of the month?

TheGrimSqueaker

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Re: Fail-tastic anti-Mustachianism in the non-profit sector, drama in 3 acts
« Reply #108 on: January 20, 2017, 02:08:48 PM »
I'm a bilingual person (Spanish/English - working on becoming trilingual by learning Portuguese) and although speaking/reading/writing two languages is extremely rewarding, I would pay a small fortune to have the total control you posses of the English language.

Your writing skills are on par with those of my favorite writers in Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende. (Yes, they are Spanish writers but it translates the same). Their mastery of words and their utilization, which turns them into amazing mental visuals, is phenomenal and so is yours.

I can't thank you enough for being a member of this forum and sharing your anecdotes. After I'm done with my writing I'll be sure to start reading your book. I'll be downloading it from Amazon tomorrow.

Did I see correctly that you have a second book coming out at the end of the month?

Thank you for your kind words.

Yes, you're correct about the upcoming book. Now that I know how to e-publish, I'm combing through my hard drive looking for almost-complete ideas. This next one is about how and why toxic people are so consistently protected and treated well by the people they abuse. Following that will be an introduction to social warfare.

Kitsune

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Re: Fail-tastic anti-Mustachianism in the non-profit sector, drama in 3 acts
« Reply #109 on: January 20, 2017, 03:02:51 PM »
I'm a bilingual person (Spanish/English - working on becoming trilingual by learning Portuguese) and although speaking/reading/writing two languages is extremely rewarding, I would pay a small fortune to have the total control you posses of the English language.

Your writing skills are on par with those of my favorite writers in Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende. (Yes, they are Spanish writers but it translates the same). Their mastery of words and their utilization, which turns them into amazing mental visuals, is phenomenal and so is yours.

I can't thank you enough for being a member of this forum and sharing your anecdotes. After I'm done with my writing I'll be sure to start reading your book. I'll be downloading it from Amazon tomorrow.

Did I see correctly that you have a second book coming out at the end of the month?

Thank you for your kind words.

Yes, you're correct about the upcoming book. Now that I know how to e-publish, I'm combing through my hard drive looking for almost-complete ideas. This next one is about how and why toxic people are so consistently protected and treated well by the people they abuse. Following that will be an introduction to social warfare.

Yes please. Both please. :D

Spiffsome

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Re: Fail-tastic anti-Mustachianism in the non-profit sector, drama in 3 acts
« Reply #110 on: January 20, 2017, 10:08:25 PM »
Looking forward to the one on social warfare ...

SwordGuy

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Re: Fail-tastic anti-Mustachianism in the non-profit sector, drama in 3 acts
« Reply #111 on: January 20, 2017, 11:11:58 PM »
Enjoyed your writing, as always!

My brother-in-law is a school psychologist for several school districts in one of our poorer states.   None of the districts can afford to hire someone like him all by themselves, so he goes from one to another much like the old circuit court judges used to do.

The PTA decided to raise money to buy a riding lawnmower for one of the long-term janitors to use at work.   They held car washes, bake sales, etc. for several years to get enough to do this.  (Did I mention it's a poor area?)

They had a ceremony and delivered the new riding lawnmower.

The fellow then filed a grievance with the union for more pay because now he was an "Equipment Operator" instead of just a janitor.

The school took the lawnmower away and sold it.

And the ungrateful bastard got to mow the school grounds from then on with the old push mower he had been using for years before this episode.

maizeman

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Re: Fail-tastic anti-Mustachianism in the non-profit sector, drama in 3 acts
« Reply #112 on: January 20, 2017, 11:43:07 PM »
After reading the three acts plus food fight, I cannot wait to read a whole book about social warfare from TGS. (Also posting to follow so I'll hear whenever that one comes out.)

Livingthedream55

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Re: Fail-tastic anti-Mustacianism in the non-profit sector, drama in 3 acts
« Reply #113 on: January 25, 2017, 01:01:30 PM »

Fourth, itís possible to raise money by writing grants (sometimes) or soliciting individual donations, but these should always be for special projects or capital equipment as opposed to administrative or regular program expenses.  Grant money is more addictive than heroin, for a non-profit.


I used to be on the grantor/funder side of the non-profit world. Non-Profits think that grant money is a free giveaway. OOOOH we got the grant!!!  But if you GET a million dollar grant, the non-profit is supposed to do a million dollar's worth of WORK. I can't tell you how many times I have had to hold back funds or get funds back from non-profits who did next to nothing with precious grant resources.

TheGrimSqueaker

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Re: Fail-tastic anti-Mustacianism in the non-profit sector, drama in 3 acts
« Reply #114 on: January 25, 2017, 02:47:01 PM »

Fourth, itís possible to raise money by writing grants (sometimes) or soliciting individual donations, but these should always be for special projects or capital equipment as opposed to administrative or regular program expenses.  Grant money is more addictive than heroin, for a non-profit.


I used to be on the grantor/funder side of the non-profit world. Non-Profits think that grant money is a free giveaway. OOOOH we got the grant!!!  But if you GET a million dollar grant, the non-profit is supposed to do a million dollar's worth of WORK. I can't tell you how many times I have had to hold back funds or get funds back from non-profits who did next to nothing with precious grant resources.

You were smart to dole out the money in stages and expect the recipients to hit reasonable milestones. Oversight is critical especially with the small non-profits.

Sapphire

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Re: Fail-tastic anti-Mustachianism in the non-profit sector, drama in 3 acts
« Reply #115 on: January 26, 2017, 03:06:17 AM »
TGS your writing is outstanding!  Am off to buy the E-book :)

availablelight

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Re: Fail-tastic anti-Mustachianism in the non-profit sector, drama in 3 acts
« Reply #116 on: October 01, 2017, 09:01:22 AM »
Bumping from oblivion since I read this sometime in my long lurkerdom and just rediscovered it.  It's great writing which more people should see.

GrimSqueaker, I might give your other book a look as well.  I've been on the periphery of some very negative social groups of that sort, I think, though fortunately not targeted in any effective way so far, which I believe is, as much as anything, because my social life was never fully committed to them.

ďEvery great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.Ē

― Eric Hoffer, The Temper of Our Time

This says much more concisely what I've known as Jerry Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy: "In any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself. Examples in education would be teachers who work and sacrifice to teach children, vs. union representative who work to protect any teacher including the most incompetent. The Iron Law states that in all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions."