There are a lot of people doing interesting and creative things on the internet related to philanthropy, and this is just another wonderful example. On Emily Chang – eHub Interviews, Emily talks with Tom Williams, the creator of GiveMeaning. Wonderful stuff. Just read it!
I’ve had many reactions to the Square Peg logo and name. Lots of folks like it and are intrigued by the idea. Somie even think it’s brilliant! but we do get some other responses. Several people have HATED the circle logo with the word “Square”. One non-profit professional told me, completely seriously, “We recommend that non-profits name themselves something related to what they do”.
So today I have some vindication for those responses that sometimes worry us. In the article Maybe you should be attracting enemies, on Donor Power Blog, Jeff Brooks talks about the value of stirring things up. I’m going to put some thought into this in the coming weeks. Beyond our name, how can we really distinguish ourselves and set ourselves apart? What really makes us “us”. What is it that’s interesting enough about what we do to make some people dislike it?
Thoughts? Please let me know!
Written by Marta B:
Horsemanship is the art falling off with style coupled with using what
remains of your good sense to apply body-salvaging pharmaceutical science.
Written by Amy 7th grade:
It’s both, because of this:
You have to know math in order to keep a horse, otherwise, financially you
would be broke, but spiritually, it is an art. You must feel the spiritual
bond of the horse, otherwise you will never enjoy the beauty of riding and
becoming one. You and the horse are a bond, a team, a herd. What some people
don’t get is that a horse is much more then an animal. (But animals are
beautiful and important people already aren’t they?)
Horses help people feel like they can do anything, people feel power when
they are with horses. But also what some people get confused with is that
horses are big animals, so they need to be controlled, show no mercy toward
That’s sounds pretty stupid if you think about it. Horses are loving gentle
giants that are teaching people how to be disoplined and resourceful. (In my
case, horses are what get me outdoors.)
Horsemanship, you must think about the business, about also the horses. What
is your education on mathematics and spirituality on these powerful,
That is what I think.
So I was reading the other night and the thought occurred to me; “is horsemanship an art? is it a science?” Certainly, Horsemanship has elements of both. But I realized that how I might approach a student to teach them might have a lot to do with how the student might answer the question, not how I would. That said, I’m posing the question to you, our supporters, horsemen, students and the community at large. How do you answer the question?
Paul Graham has written a wonderful essay How to Do What You Love. Everyone should read this!
As a Square Peg, it’s important to think about the meaning we are creating. Each of us have things we’re rather be doing at any given moment, and as Paul Graham points out, doing what you love does not mean just doing whatever you feel like doing.
I always wanted to create something that made a difference. That’s why I studied engineering, that’s why I went into customer support, that’s why I started different groups and projects in my career, that’s why I decided to help Joell start Square Pegs. It’s that recurring theme of making meaning in my life.
So find that which creates meaning for you, and I think you’ll find yourself embracing that which makes you a Square Peg.
The subject has come up lately about bringing in new horses and selling others. I’ve been faced with students, parents and supporters who feel like this reduces our horses to commodities to be bought sold or traded at will. It seems like time to debunk this train of thought.
First, for every horse for whom we find a wonderful home, we are able to receive, rescue, care for another soul. The number of horses in America who end up at slaughterhouses is staggering. This year, the number of horses sent to slaughter in the US and Canada is expected to be 100,000. The work we do at Square Pegs is committed to be “one horse, one student at a time.” This is important work to us here.
Currently, with staff (that’s me) and volunteers at this level, the 9 horses we are caring for today is about all we can handle. This means that each horse is cared for, groomed, vaccinated, has regular vet and hoof care, special diets and exercise and lesson plans appropriate to their mental and physical needs are attended to. If you have spent any time at the barn, you know that there is ALWAYS work to be done. During the short days of winter, darkness seems to fall about 20 minutes too soon. Our board bill would make you cry. And our board just recently went up!
The Donor Power Blog has a good article on the reasons a non-profit should blog and the reasons they should not:
So, what are our reasons for starting this blog? Well, for one thing, it was easy. Joell and I are comfortable writing, so that makes it easier for us (other than finding the time). The blog software we use, Movable Type, is very easy to use and provides all the sophisticated interfaces for syndication, plug-ins, authoring, comments and trackbacks. And now we’re going to hook it more directly into our website so that it serves as regularly updated content there. Joell uses ecto, which is wonderful on the Mac, and I use Performancing and the Movable Type web interface because ecto on windows just doesn’t work as well. (I can’t WAIT to be off of my windows machine! But that’s a topic for anotherposting.)
But mostly we started this blog because we wanted to capture more of the stories about what we do and what happens every day at Square Pegs. As we teach, learn about running and non-profit and note interesting trends and ideas, we hope people come to understand better what this is all about a are compelled to get involved. Maybe they’ll send us a check, or maybe they’ll volunteer. Or maybe they’ll be inspired to go support some other cause that really has their heart. That’s OK too!
The Donor Power Blog article mentions how few people are “reading blogs”. But I don’t think that’s really a barrier. Your own supporters are your first customers for your blog. If they know you are blogging and are interested in your cause ( and have computer access), they’ll come and read what you write. Make sure they like it, and make sure they believe that what you’re writing captures the story of your organization.
I also believe that many people have read a blog but don’t even know it. To them it’s just a website. But folks (techies like me) get hung up on the specifics and on the buzz-words. Heck, our friend Joe Shelton has a blog, and doesn’t even know it – because he just writes a new story every day on the front page of his website. No archive, no categories, no RSS feed, just great stories about life on a Horse Rescue ranch. I don’t just call it a blog because he updates it all the time, but because it’s all about the stories. That’s the key – the stories.
Boomer writes a fun bit on what it means to be a square peg
I enjoyed reading it and a like the “now way, dammit!” attitude! Needless to say, too many people never get that sense of value from their own uniqueness.
Well, since I mentioned Guy I’ll point you to his blog and a specific posting that is one of my favorite Guy-isms. It’s a version of his commencement address that he’s given a few times and it’s a great illustration of why I read everything Guy puts out.
The rest of Guy’s blog is also some familiar stuff if you’ve already been reading Guy’s books, but I think his blog will be worth following. I’ve certainly got it on my GoogleReader…