I’m a firm believer that non-profit organizations need to have a strategy, too. Maybe even more than for-profit ones, because of the constant lack of resources. I’ve been watching without commenting the development of the five-year strategic plan for Wikimedia Foundation: fascinating. The process has entered the last phase, synthesis. There is lots to learn from it. I hope I’ll find time to blog about this later.

Some background info on HBR.

A very good read and something I have seen happen many times with the non-profit groups I worked with:

If your non-profit isn’t acting with as much energy and guts as it takes to get funded in Silicon Valley or featured on Digg, then you’re failing in your duty to make change.

via Seth’s Blog: The problem with non.

During the past weeks in the mobile world at Funambol I’ve started deepening my thoughts about how computers are still inefficient and largely too hard to use. One thing that I hate is how the whole online things are separated from the file system.’  I keep my hard disks organized in folders separating my work projects from my home/fun activities.’  Down the tree the classification is done by clients and individual projects.’  I’ve always found this strict classification too limiting, because after many years I have now duplicate files and finding things gets harder.’  Software like beagle or spotlight are only a partial solution.

What is really annoying me though is the separation of all web activities from the files on the disk. Is an email related to a project and a client?’  Why are bookmarks and web pages so difficult to retrace? I would like to find such information grouped in the project folder, available on my disk, tagged properly. I don’t like Google’s idea to move everything online and keep my files there, out of my hands and off my disks.

I look forward to see the new Mozilla Thunderbird. They seem to start on the right foot: it’s not just an email, it’s messaging.

The name Mozilla Messaging is supposed to indicate that it’s focusing on the Internet messaging and communications space as a whole, not just e-mail.

My hope is that within a short time frame Thunderbird will innovate messaging as much as Firefox did in the browser world.

Mozilla Thunderbird Gets Its Own Company @ ENTERPRISE OPEN SOURCE MAGAZINE

After many years of working in a non-profit organization I became convinced that the main difference between for-profit business and non-profit business is in the availability (or lack thereof) of dividends. Plus for-profit companies prefer not to pay dividends and markets pressure corporations to act in stakeholder’s interests (not just shareholder’s) … I leave the math to you.
Given these premises I’m not surprised that Mitchell Baker, CEO of Mozilla Foundation, was paid good money in 2006 (see Mozilla Financial FAQ for a breakdown of her $500,000 salary). Charity Navigator’s FAQ (a site that helps US-based donors evaluate non-profit organizations) comment on non-profit’s CEO salaries:

it is important to consider that it takes a certain level of professionalism to effectively run a charity and charities must offer a competitive salary if they want to attract and retain that level of leadership.

And that’s the important bit. According to Charity Navigator, average salary for a charity CEO is $145,000 per year. That’s peanuts, compared to the $14 million compensation received by the average CEO of a S&P company.

Of course, if you pay peanuts you get monkeys, as my father-in-law says, and you don’t want monkeys running your charity. Mitchell has done a good job at Mozilla Foundation and she deserves recognition and an incentive to keep it up. Not only I don’t see a problem but I hope salaries for non-profit CEOs will get higher to attract the best managers.

The problems start if non-profit CEOs compensation is very high compared to total expenses. Peter Brown, FSF’s Executive Director, received about $70k in 2006 (9% of expenses) while Shari Steele, EFF’s Executive Director, received about $150k in 2005 (5% of expenses). Salaries are proportional to the size of the organization: EFF’s income is $2.7 million, compared to a mere $800k for FSF.

Unfortunately this level of transparency is non-existent in comparable non-profit organizations in Europe. I don’t feel comfortable donating without knowing exactly how my money will be spent in detail, especially regarding compensation for the executives.

Politecnico di Torino and Regione Piemonte have launced SeLiLi, Servizio Licenze Libere, a service to offer information and consulting services on legal, technological and economical matters regarding copyright licenses. Given the credibility of the Politecnico and in particular to the group that maintains the Creative Commons licenses I think they can do a good job spreading news in Italy.

SeLiLi’s mission includes giving advice on copyright for all kind of creative arts, from graphic arts to software, making its scope wider than that of FSFE’s Freedom Task Force. This, BTW, proves that everybody, for-profits and non-profits, have to face competition. I wish the best to these friends in Torino.