Nonprofits and Honesty

I have had the pleasure of working with many nonprofits and for the most it has been satisfying being able to contribute my skill set.

Let me put a disclaimer and address the white elephant in the room. I take notes and I also keep and archive conversations during my time as a signing officer at a nonprofit organization.  Should you feel that this is about you – the lesson to be learned is to be a better human being. Do not bully! Should there be a need for regulatory forensic audit I can and will provide supporting evidence.


Libel and slander, known broadly as defamation, are untrue statements made by someone that are harmful to someone else’s reputation. The statements can be about a person, business, organization, group, nation, or product that tends to hurt the person’s reputation. Also, the false statements must be made to other people, not just to the person it is about. Libel refers to written statements and slander refers to oral statements. Under the law, both are grounds for a civil lawsuit.


Bullying is a conscious, willful, deliberate, repeated and hostile activity marked by an imbalance of power, intent to harm and/or threat of aggression.

Bullying can be verbal (name-calling, put-downs, threats), homophobic bullying, transphobic bullying, social (exclusion, gossip, ganging up), physical (hitting, damaging property) or cyberbullying (using the computer to harass or threaten). Bullying can occur within a peer group or between groups. It can occur at home, at school, at work and in sports.

Now that, that is out of the way.

Good nonprofits look at the mission and foster growth from within. The community is then able to expand the vision from leadership. It is the mission that steers honesty in the community and thereby provides accountability.

Bad nonprofits sell the mission in disguise and foster dishonesty. The community falters , it stumbles, as the vision is in conflict with not being accountable where the culture can not be accountable.

Nonprofits like any organization starts with a core statement. That core statement is the mission. The moment you wander off the mission path it is imperative that you and the team re evaluate the statement and it’s relevance.

Nonprofit organizations operate like a business with the difference in that it is compassionate. A nonprofit as the name implies  in that the driving force for the operation is not of a profit nature.  There are three objectives that are key to a nonprofit being successful and what it really comes down to is the constituents; the members. People make the organization, not the other way around.

  1. Credibility (Honesty)
  2. Safe workplace
  3. Governance

Credibility is a value that resonates with the constituents. No one wants to be part of an organization that is “fake” and built upon lies. This is the building block of an organization. If the organization can not be honest in it’s mission statement and provide meaningful impact then it will be short lived. No one wants to invest their time and donate funding towards a dishonest organization. That relationship is extremely important to the organization. From there it builds the path to relevance, trust, accountability, reputation, and governance.

A safe workplace goes without saying. No one will volunteer their time to an organization that promotes an unsafe environment or a toxic environment. Bullying or misconduct is an issue in any environment. People like to give shade to it and label it passion and that these people are being passionate. It is just an excuse for bad behavior.

Governance is where processes and procedures are born. Like all rules and laws it follows a life cycle and is always evolving to the needs of the organization. It should always be challenged to it’s relevance. It keeps people honest, transparent,  and through that honesty it builds accountability.

These three objectives work together and builds a strong foundation for any organization, not just a nonprofit. The core values of credibility, a safe workplace, and governance carries a common theme, and that is trust.  People only join and volunteer to an organization that is honest and one that can be trusted.

Some information for the Alberta area:

I may write a bit more in this topic as I broke up with an organization that I felt was a good organization. What happen is that the core group of volunteers got corrupted and swayed from the mission – governance and financial accountability was put on the bench. Dishonesty is being replaced in the mission statement.

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