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The Other Rules for Scrabble and Nonprofits

scrabble and nonprofit other rules           In managing organizations, there are official rules and there are the other rules. The official rules that come in the Scrabble game box tell you how many tiles to draw, that play passes to the left, what “triple letter score” means. How the game works. Without them you couldn’t play. Likewise, nonprofits have official rules. For finance, they tell us how to behave with regard to 501(c)(3) status, payroll taxes, budgets. HR has rules, as do boards of directors, and so on. As with Scrabble, without following these rules, an organization would find itself in chaos and in trouble. (The Foundation Group has a great list of the Dirty (half) Dozen Nonprofit No-Nos.)

The “other rules” are situational. Created to make life more civil for the players, based on what’s going on. Games with my former in-laws are always a blast. Any time the group gathers at the beach or for Christmas a Scrabble board appears. The games are spirited, with passionate people who really want to win. While there are dull moments, dreadfully long dull moments waiting for certain people to play, there are never dull games. One time, my sister-in-law, Lois, felt it might add a bit of civility if she just wrote some rules for us to follow as the situations came up. So, based on her observations, she created a list of Other Rules of Scrabble. Here are some:

  • No flat out lying about whether a word is in the dictionary
  • No sarcasm used on children
  • No intimidating guests so they’ll agree with you
  • No asking for the pen in an ugly tone of voice
  • No demeaning someone who makes only a few points just because it took a long time to play
  • No shaking your finger and saying “I hate you!” to other players
  • No droning on and on about how many points you could have gotten
  • No acting resentful when you have to lose your turn because you challenged someone who told you it was a word
  • Having a lung disease and whatever other sickness doesn’t mean you get your way
  • No throwing the scrabble book outside

nonprofit rules, scrabbleSo, in a like manner, we may consider some other rules for nonprofits. Here are a few suggestions to get the conversation going:

  • No using interns as vassals
  • No using big-eyed children to guilt people to donate
  • No using big-eyed puppies to guilt people to donate
  • No telling people they can solve an intractable problem by “liking” something on Facebook
  • No telling people they can solve an intractable problem by buying more stuff
  • No jumping up and down on Oprah’s couch
  • You are not God, not the Guiding Light, so no pretending your work is the direct work of The Almighty—unless you do so humbly
  • No partnering with Evil Empires or others destroying the world just to get their funds
  • No telling the staff to double the income
  • No telling staff to make a really viral video
  • No encouraging children to break curfew and vandalize city property
  • No squeezing out smaller do-good groups to “increase market share”
  • No more logos with hands, hearts, stars or figures with their arms extended in the air
  • No public relations campaigns involving Disney princesses

Perhaps you can think of some to share, as well. If we will all follow these rules, maybe our efforts will be more civil.

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