The executive column: a nonprofit no-no

How to avoid this tempting transgression.

When you’re a communicator in the nonprofit world, you accept the pay, which is generally lower than that of your corporate counterparts. You find creative ways to stretch your limited budget. You wear many hats because you have a small staff. Maybe you are the staff.

As a result, it can be tough to grind out high-quality work, all the time. So sometimes you end up publishing something you just shouldn’t. Let’s call it a nonprofit no-no.

A nonprofit no-no is something that your journalistic instincts tell you to avoid—something you would be ashamed or embarrassed to have in your portfolio of work. Someday you could find yourself in, say, a job interview, begging forgiveness for the indiscretion. “You don’t understand how much pressure I was under,” you’ll plead. “It was so easy to take a shortcut, so I gave in to temptation, just that once.”

Take the executive column (aka the “president’s message,” “view from the top,” or some other bland title). The executive column can rear its ugly head in a member publication, in a conference brochure, on a page of a nonprofit’s Web site—anywhere you can plaster some words (and usually a picture) of some muckety-muck in your organization. Corporate publications often contain similar columns.

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