The Walking Dead Sabotage Nonprofits
Recently I've written about my personal epiphany regarding the expense-is-all-that-matters filter through which we/I have looked at nonprofits' effectiveness.
The new movement afoot to evaluate nonprofits with effectiveness as part of the measure is sabotaged by villains like the ones characterized in this NBC article.
Organizations like Children's Cancer Fund of America and the Breast Cancer Society are now in a settlement agreement, so I don't have to use the word "alleged" when I describe them as bottom-feeding, without remorse or social conscience, ego-centric ... What? Finding that appropriately disgust-conveying word is tough. "Pansy" or "Pudding Head" or "Daisy" or "Doofus" just doesn't do it.
I am going to use "Walker."
The Walking Dead is my current favorite show. With the beloved, I've binge watched it for weeks, every season available. I just got to the episode for which the series is entitled. That episode finally clarifies that it is not the zombies who are the walking dead, it is the people who gave up their humanity in exchange for survival.
These people not only stole a bunch of money—call it "misdirected" if you want to—but they sabotaged those working in nonprofits trying to do good work for the world. We didn't just lose the money they stole, we lost the confidence of a lot of people who gave, or who simply read the articles about them. From the good and true nonprofits and those they serve, the Walking Dead have taken many multiples of what they stole outright. They have taken food from babies, cures from patients and counsel from those who need it.
The people who led these organizations are even worse than the Walking Dead. They didn't give up their humanity for survival. They did it for money.
Otis Fulton, Ph.D., spent most of his career in the education industry, working at the psychometric research and development firm MetaMetrics Inc., Pearson Education and others. Since 2013, he has focused on the nonprofit sector, applying psychology to fundraising and donor behavior at Turnkey. He is the co-author of the 2017 book, ”Dollar Dash: The Behavioral Economics of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising,” and the 2023 book, "Social Fundraising: Mining the New Peer-to-Peer Landscape," and is a frequent speaker at national nonprofit conferences. With Katrina VanHuss, he co-authors a blog at NonProfit PRO, “Peeling the Onion,” on the intersection of psychology and philanthropy.
Otis is a much sought-after copywriter for nonprofit fundraising messages. He has written campaigns for UNICEF, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, March of Dimes, Susan G. Komen, the USO and dozens of other organizations. He has a Ph.D. in social psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Virginia, where he also played on UVA’s first ACC champion basketball team.
Katrina VanHuss has helped national nonprofits raise funds and friends since 1989 when she founded Turnkey. Her client’s successes and her dedication to research have made her a sought-after speaker, presenting at national conferences for Blackbaud, Peer to Peer Professional Forum, Nonprofit PRO, The Need Help Foundation and her clients’ national meetings. The firm’s work is underpinned by the study and application of behavioral economics and social psychology. Turnkey provides project engagements, coaching, counsel and staffing to nonprofits seeking to improve revenue or create new revenue. Her work extends into organizational alignment efforts and executive coaching.
Katrina regularly shares her wit and business experiences on her and Otis Fulton's NonProfit PRO blog “Peeling the Onion.” She and Otis are also co-authors of the books, "Dollar Dash: The Behavioral Economics of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising" and "Social Fundraising: Mining the New Peer-to-Peer Landscape." When not writing or researching, Katrina likes to make things — furniture from reclaimed wood, new gardens, food with no recipe. Katrina’s favorite Saturday is spent cleaning out the garage, mowing the grass, making something new, all while listening to loud music by now-deceased black women, throwing in a few sets on the weight bench off and on, then collapsing on the couch with her husband Otis to gang-watch new Netflix series whilst drinking sauvignon blanc.
Katrina grew up on a Virginia beef cattle and tobacco farm with her three brothers. She is accordingly skilled in hand to hand combat and witty repartee — skills gained at the expense of her brothers. Katrina’s claim to fame is having made it to the “American Gladiator” Richmond competition as a finalist in her late 20s, progressing in the competition until a strangely large blonde woman knocked her off a pedestal with an oversized pain-inducing Q-tip. Katrina’s mantra for life is “Be nice. Do good. Embrace embarrassment.” Clearly she’s got No. 3 down.