Strategic Planning Writ Larger

February 9, 2014

I have been actively engaged in the nonprofit/charitable sector for almost 20 years. (I am presently in disengagement mode, planning to take an extended break.) Through my experiences I learned many things, especially about how nonprofits differ from businesses and governmental agencies.

Large business entities—Microsoft, Chase, General Electric, etc.—work off of strategic plans. These organizations expend time and money figuring out where they want to be at given points in time, and how they will get there. The plans are not static, for sure, but they do not function in the “stuff happens, so don’t bother planning” realm.

The nonprofits with which I have been involved are all much, much smaller than the icons of the American economy. Budgets ranged

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Testing, Testing …

February 8, 2014

My Friends, my blog–Mark Rubin Writes–is alive … almost! The site lacks some features, I’m still trying to navigate and understand what seem like they ought to be simple maneuvers, etc., and I have to connect with “my people” about tweeting and other such stuff. (No, this blog does not feature tech guidance.) In the meantime, I’m tired of waiting for perfection.

Please like my new FB page and, as the spirit moves you, comment on individual posts. Also, I really, really want feedback about the blog, the look and feel, subjects, etc. You’ll see law and related topics during the week, food and fun as the week winds down, and opinions and analysis during the weekend. I started with

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Food Writers Have Foils: barleymash

February 8, 2014

Food Writers Have Foils: barleymash

Food writers often have foils, individuals in their lives off whom they can work. Calvin Trillin is a master of writing about food (and so many other subjects). Mr. Trillan had Alice, his wife of many years who died too soon in New York City on September 11, 2001 (not because of the WTC events, but as a result of a heart problem.) Alice, per Mr. Trillin, “had a weird predilection for limiting our family to three meals a day.” Another charming foil is Miss F, the real star of Domesticity by Bob Shacochis. In Domesticity Mr. Shacochis shares lots of stories about Miss F, most of which end with a recipe.

I do not

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March on Washington + 50 Years

August 26, 2013

It’s hard not to choke up listening to clips from the “I Have a Dream” speech. So much promise, so much death during the 60s, and I cannot help but focus on the fact that the many 1960s martyrs had children, my age, and never got to see their kids grow up! As a product of a pretty stable two-parent household, I cannot imagine the challenges these families faced in turbulent times!
Emotions aside, I’m fascinated by how easily anyone can argue for a nearly full or almost empty cup. On the full side? Exhibit A is President Barack Obama. Elected, and re-elected—in a not really very close election—despite a poor economy
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Substantiating a Charitable Donation

February 16, 2013

If you are make charitable gifts, you must play by the rules, and what may seem like substantial compliance won’t satisfy the Internal Revenue Service or the United States Tax Court. That’s the lesson from In re Durden, T.C. Memo.2012-140 (May 17, 2012).

Here are the basic facts. In 2007 David and Veronda Durden gave the Nevertheless Community Church $24,854 in a series of checks, each of which was for more than $250. The church sent an acknowledgment letter that covered every check, and sent it before the the Durdens filed their 2007 federal income tax return. Unfortunately, the church forgot to mention in the letter that the Durdens received no goods or services in return for the contributions.

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Kicking Kumbaya

February 9, 2013

Recently I met with a group from a nonprofit about funding their program. An issue arose about the focused nature of their efforts, and one of their board members–a fine fellow and a friend–quickly noted the fact that they don’t “just sit around and sing Kumbaya.” I took umbrage, right away, asking “what’s wrong with that?”

Somewhere, somehow, Kumbaya became the whipping boy for people who are not really serious about what they’re doing! In 2010 a nice little piece in the New York Times (A Long Road From Here to “Kumbaya”) detailed the history of the song and how it gets denigrated now. Interesting, especially, is the fact that all sides in the world of “important” people

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Romney and Bain-Some Thoughts

July 14, 2012

I’ve been watching the Romney/Bain Capital situation for a long while, wondering how it will play out. I’ve been convinced, since day one, that the story is not about Mitt Romney’s wealth or envy or anything like that, but let me share a few words about that matter before I address what really matters.

Governor Romney was enormously successful as a financier. Good on him! I don’t envy him and, frankly, am quite happy that my life does not involves the burdens attendant to making and having a financial fortune. My only quarrel about all that money relates to the several comments Governor Romney and his wife have shared about starting out with nothing, struggling, etc. For example, there’s Ann

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ROAD TRIP!

June 23, 2012

Later this summer my daughter and I will be driving to school–her school, my and Jane’s alma mater–for her sophomore year. It’s daddy/daughter time, and my chance for the road trip I’ve always wanted but never taken the time for!

Our route takes us from Tucson to the Grand Canyon and, then, to Winslow AZ. In Winslow we’ll be eating at the Turquoise Room at La Posada Hotel. We’ll also take a moment to “take it easy, standin’ on a corner in Winslow Arizona,” although I’m sure there will be no girl “in a flatbed Ford, slowin’ down to take a look at me.” (BTW, bricks can be purchased for placement at Second and Kinsley in Winslow. We’ll be looking

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You Can’t Go Home Again

April 21, 2012

Our daughter Cate matriculated at Beloit College, a fine, small liberal arts college in Beloit, Wisconsin. Beloit–the town, and the college within it–is located along the Wisconsin/Illinois border about 95 miles northwest of downtown Chicago. That Cate enrolled at Beloit College is totally fitting, as she would not be alive if Jane and I had not both been Beloit College students who happened to meet in the fall of 1977, as I was wrapping up my 3-1/2 years at Beloit and Jane was starting hers. (It did take us almost nine years to connect up for real, but that’s another story!)

Beloit was not my home or Jane’s before we arrived there. I was Tucson-raised, while Jane was born in

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Reflections and “Epiphanies” From the Social Venture Partners International Winter Conference in Scottsdale

April 20, 2012

From my life as a member of a venture philanthropy partnership–Social Venture Partners Tucson–here’s a piece I posted early today. For more information about SVP Tucson, go to www.socialventurepartners.org/Tucson.

There is an old adage about seminars:  Learn one thing and you’ve gotten your money’s worth! I attended the Social Venture Partners Turn Up the Heat: Next-Level Strategies for SVP Winter Conference in Scottsdale on April 16-17, 2012. I went to two programs, learned two big things and got a great reminder about the value of Social Venture Partners. Oh, and there was an EPIPHANY! Pretty good value!!!

First, I attended a dinner focused on collective impact. Several presenters related collective impact experiences in their communities. The issues on which

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