Every time a federal or state administration shifts, nonprofits are among the most exposed, sometimes negatively (extra work, extra costs, or undoing needed protections) and other times positively (greater opportunities to fulfill their mission).The fast-changing political climate in Washington is creating a host of challenges for the nonprofit community.

  • Nonprofits focused on climate change and other environmental issues are facing repeal of agreements and regulations.
  • Nonprofits focused on reproductive health, rights, and justice face funding cuts and new regulations.
  • Tightened immigration policies, including deportations, disrupt communities and increase the demand for children’s services and for legal aid.
  • The repeal of the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act will increase the need for charity-based healthcare.

The news is not all bad.

The Giving USA 2017 report published by the Giving USA Foundation, covering charitable giving in the 2016 election year, notes that all categories of recipient organizations saw an increase in 2016, with the largest being a 7.2% increase in giving to the environment and animal organizations.

People without a lot of disposable income gave in larger numbers than they would have in the recent past. When President Trump signed an executive order suspending refugee admissions from seven Muslim-majority countries the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) raised over $24 million from more than 350,000 individual online donations in a two-day period—six times the amount the ACLU normally handles in online donations in a year.

Planned Parenthood received more than 300,000 donations in the six weeks after the election, 40 times its normal rate.

A new nonprofit, We The Action, connects volunteer lawyers with nonprofit organizations, to “protect and defend nonprofit organizations who need it.”

The Tax Bill’s Impact

The tax bill passed in December provides generous tax cuts to businesses and individuals, but it appears likely that it will have a negative effect on nonprofit donations.

Of greatest concern is that increases in the standard deduction for taxpayers will discourage itemized deductions, and charitable gifts can only be claimed that way. Estimates vary, but somewhere between $16 billion and $24 billion (about 6-9%) could be lost each year.

The National Council of Nonprofits points out that the new $10,000 limit on the amount of state and local income taxes and property taxes that can be deducted federally is likely to pressure state and local governments to enact tax and spending cuts, leading to elimination of programs serving people in need and increasing the burden on charitable nonprofits and foundations to fill the gaps.

Doubling the exemption in the estate tax is expected to lower charitable giving by $4 billion per year because of the impact it will have on tax planning.

All of this is more troubling given the current financial health of the nonprofit sector. According to a new report, half of U.S. nonprofits had less than one month’s cash reserve. 30% had lost money over three years, and 7% were technically insolvent.

The potential for reduced funding due to tax cuts is likely to further impact the many nonprofit organizations that depend on government for half or more of their budgets.

But there’s no point in bemoaning what’s not possible. You’ve got to focus on strategy and action. You need to get into the mindset that there will always be change. Steps to be taken include increasing the sense of urgency of your whole organization including the Board for fundraising. Be sure you have prioritized your strategy so it is fundable.

Think about how you can message to your donor base (or new donor audiences) that you need their donations more than ever.

Are there cost reductions to make? Consider merging with similar organizations.

 

I’d like to hear from you on this topic, please comment below.

 

When I was in Washington, I was impressed with the politicians and the bureaucrats. As Majority Leader and later as President, Lyndon Johnson got a lot done. Presidents Reagan, Bush Senior, and Clinton were effective at accomplishing policy changes that made peoples’ lives better and made government work better. Part of the problem these days is that the extreme factions of the parties have driven so many moderates out of power.

I see a big shift at the cabinet level. Cabinets used to have people with solid experience. You don’t often see senior business people with global experience in cabinet positions anymore. There’s been rising influence among political consultants, pollsters, and young White House staffers. Somebody who’s been a CEO of a global company has a problem not being heard by the President and dealing with snarky staff people. It’s a weakness that’s evolved at the White House. Think about Lincoln and his “team of rivals.” He surrounded himself with people he knew disliked him and competed with him, but it worked because he actively sought the full spectrum of opinions, he managed the process, and he produced decisions that reflected all that input. We don’t have that today.

Government is supposed to figure out solutions for people and must collaborate to do that. I again stress the importance of my rules of collaboration. You can’t achieve the most basic element of those rules, mutual respect and trust, when you put extremists in key jobs. They don’t want to compromise to get effective solutions for the majority. I like to see groups work collaboratively, whether at the small unit level, corporate level, industry level, government level, or global level. I don’t care too much who gets credit, it’s about moving forward, accomplishing goals. Unfortunately, the culture of a government bureaucracy tends to be such that rapid change puts people at risk. Unlike the culture we created at Applied, government staff often are scared of bad news. They don’t want to go through the transformation exercises; change is not a medium of opportunity, it’s a risk to your job and promotion.

I believe a strong and fiscally responsible economy is a paramount goal, without borrowing from our grandchildren. The extremists today make me concerned that both parties are leaving moderates like me out of the process. Parties can’t just be against everything the opponents are for; parties have to be fiscally responsible and lead, govern, and solve problems for all Americans.

I’d like to hear from you on this topic, please comment below.

In my May newsletter I considered the stories about sexual harassment at the ride-sharing service Uber. At the time I saw the story in part as a crisis of management, of executives who adopt the posture of “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.”

Since then the accounts of sexual harassment have mushroomed, many from the entertainment industry and many in the political arena. The accusations range from inappropriate language to more severe physical assaults. The stories seem to multiply every day, revealing a very troubling pattern across organizations, regardless of their size or type.

In the Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan rediscovered a letter to women written by Pope John Paul II in 1995. “The time has come to condemn vigorously the types of sexual violence which frequently have women for their object,” he wrote, “and to pass laws which effectively defend them from such violence.” Noonan writes, “At the heart of the current scandals is a simple disrespect and disregard for women, and an inability to love them.”

As I grew as a manager the heart of my first management insight was that respect and trust for your people is the foundation of all good management. You must build and model this culture of respect and trust. It may sound simple but it takes time.

As a leader, the character of your organization will never exceed your own. You are constantly being evaluated by your team on whether you treat people with respect and whether you walk your talk. If you are disrespectful of your employees’ intelligence or you disregard their humanity or dignity, they will not trust you and you will limit your potential for success.

Make sure you exhibit every trait and quality you want your people to exhibit. If you don’t trust and respect an employee, that person should not be working for you. That is your responsibility. If you set an example of taking responsibility for your own decisions instead of scapegoating, your people will do the same. Hiring, development, and retention culture of an organization establishes whether the organization becomes just good or great.

Learning how to respect and trust your people is the first topic on the Morganisms Worksheet in my book Applied Wisdom. I ask several questions including:

• Does your “tone at the top” show respect for every employee’s strengths, contributions, and personal health, comfort, and safety?
• Are your managers clear they should avoid heroic interventions and support employee decision-making?
• Are you asking yourself tough questions, such as: Am I being consistent in my leadership and example? Am I walking the talk?

I believe that we would see far fewer cases of sexual harassment if a robust culture of respect and trust was fundamental to our organizations.

I’d like to hear from you on this topic, please comment below.

How are you addressing disrespect in the workplace?

Dr. Ichak Kalderon Adizes

This blog post was featured in the Huffington Post on November 29, 2017.

Dr. Adizes: Jim, you have authored and published a book, Applied Wisdom, (2) in which you summarized your thirty years of leading Applied Material as its CEO and Chairman of the Board. Applied Material grew from a small company, with $17 million in revenues when you joined, into a company of $10 billion in revenues when you retired. You have put your thirty years of experience into that book. Why did you write it? It takes time and effort to write a book.

Jim Morgan: My first goal was to write something for my grandchildren, for them to know where I spent my adult life. But as I wrote the first draft, I realized there was enough “applied wisdom” from my experience leading the company that could be useful to people taking courses on leadership, people who do not have thirty years of experience. So, my goal in writing the book is for future leaders to gain from my experience and for it to be written so well that even my grandchildren can read and enjoy it.

Dr. Adizes: During your tenure, the company grew from $17 million to $10 billion in revenues. What were the causes for this successful growth? What do you attribute your success to?

Jim Morgan: We focused on innovating new products that would meet global customer needs and were early to new markets like Japan, Taiwan, Korea and China. We attracted very capable people, like Dan Maydan who eventually became the company president. Three major factors: great people, new markets, and new products.

Dr. Adizes: New products, new markets, and even the recruitment of excellent new people do not happen by themselves. Why did it happen at Applied Material?

Jim Morgan: It was the company culture of being close to the client. Very close. So, we always knew what their needs were and we worked hard to satisfy them. Thus, new markets. Thus, new products. And, that meant that we knew which people with which capabilities we needed.

Dr. Adizes: Having been your consultant for twenty years allows me to give you my insight into why you were able to attract good people and why you were close to the client and thus able to innovate what the market wanted. It might not be in your book because it is difficult to see the picture when you are in the picture.

Jim Morgan: Yes, tell me.

Dr. Adizes: It is your style, Jim. You allowed people to be free to think and to lead. You gave people space. The company was not top-down driven. On the contrary, it was bottom-up driven. Clients drove the sales people who drove the R&D which drove production. Dan Maydan was the same: very open-minded. And this climate of openness attracted people who were innovative and entrepreneurial. Furthermore, with my involvement, we almost annually restructured the company as it was growing so that decentralization could be implemented and sustainable. And it was. Thus, the good people came and stayed. Thus, the closeness to the client. Thus, the innovation. Thus, the success.

Jim Morgan: Yes. We insisted on decentralization, and the book I authored makes points on delegation and decentralization.

Dr. Adizes: What is the worst decision you have made?

Jim Morgan: Getting into the implant business.

Dr. Adizes: What was wrong?

Jim Morgan: The company had a good product when we bought it. But it did not succeed in its subsequent products, and it never became number one in its industry.

Dr. Adizes: Why did this division fail with new products?

Jim Morgan: They were not close to the market like the rest of the company. They were in England, and our culture did not get transmitted to them as well.

Dr. Adizes: Adizes was with you all the way, for twenty-some-odd years. What was it that Adizes did for you or for the company that made it worth holding on to?

Jim Morgan: Adizes was instrumental in leading the ongoing decentralization of the company by continuously working on restructuring. And, Adizes knew how to handle different cultures and teach the executives from different nation how to listen to each other and work as a team. Applied Material was like a United Nations in its top management: Indian, Iranian, Israeli, Argentinian, etc. You helped unite them and taught them how to work together in spite of their different cultural backgrounds.

Also, you taught us how to make the changes without losing alignment. To change a culture, you need to change structures and to change the process which will change the people and eventually the culture.

Dr. Adizes: Growing from $17 million to $10 billion through continuous reorganization and restructuring means a lot of change. How did you, as the CEO, handle those who were resisting change. You and I know who they were.

Jim Morgan: By never getting involved in the politics of the company. By always following what is strategically and functionally right for the company long-term and steering away from politics. We developed a culture that is included in Applied Wisdom: bad news is good news….. if you do something about it!! Dan and I could not remember a time bad news got to the Board, Wall Street, or the press that we did not know about.

Dr. Adizes: You had a very good Board of Directors. What are your guidelines for building the board and managing it?

Jim Morgan: I wanted competence on the board with a diversity of knowledge and of styles. We had equity fund managers, people from the industry, leaders from the accounting profession, etc. And I always worked to ensure that they would not be surprised but instead fully knowledgeable about the company’s problems and affairs. Board members should help think about solutions to problems, not be there to just cheer on the CEO.

Dr. Adizes: You retired…..

Jim Morgan: At 65, I stepped down as CEO after we hired Mike Splinter from Intel. He had a ten-year run until he retired. These were a tough ten years because the whole industry was in a downturn. But, he kept it going. Today, under the leadership of CEO Gary Dickerson, it is a $15 billion company setting new records and celebrating fifty years of global innovation.

Dr. Adizes: Thank you, Jim. It was a pleasure working with you, and it was a pleasure reading your book. I am sure future readers will find it fascinating.

Jim Morgan: Good talking to you, Ichak. Come see me when in the Silicon Valley.

___________

1) Applied Material (AMAT) is the leading company in the world in manufacturing wafer-producing equipment. Those wafers produce the chips that drive computers. AMAT byline: “The information highway starts here.” AMAT has been a client of Adizes Methodology for over twenty years, starting when the company was at $400 million in sales. The service was discontinued when a new CEO came aboard. At that time, the company was ten billion in sales.

2) Morgan, J. C., & Hamilton, J. O. (2016). Applied Wisdom: Bad News Is Good News and Other Insights That Can Help Anyone Be a Better Manager. Los Altos, CA: Chandler Jordan Publishing.

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