Learn more about analytics and research best practices, as well as real world examples and solutions for nonprofits.


Jun 10, 2019

Is Your BOD on Hopium?

I saw the term “hopium” for the first time in a recent blog by Victoria Christensen and immediately became fond of the term.

As Ms. Christensen defines it: hopium is a false sense of positivity in the midst of dire, evidence-based scientific research. Now, while her context for using the term was not related to fundraising, I couldn’t help but think of all our nonprofit friends who are in the midst of finalizing their FY20 budgets.

For our context, here’s an example of how to use the term “hopium”:

If your BOD has asked you to increase revenue 10% next fiscal year without any increase in your development budget, they are on hopium.

I don’t recall much from my Philosophy 100 class as a freshman in college, but I do remember the Latin term Ex Nilo Nil Fit coined by pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Parmenides:

From Nothing, Nothing Comes.

I believe there is a national hopium epidemic in our nonprofit board rooms today. Boards continue to ask development professionals to achieve lofty goals without adequately equipping them with the resources they need to get the job done.

And we wonder why turnover in nonprofit development departments is so high…

So, before you take your next development leadership role in a nonprofit organization, do some research to make sure the BOD isn’t on hopium.


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