I love coffee shops – the smell, the positive vibes, and the interesting people.  I use coffee shops for networking meetings, writing, and quiet time.

Recently, I was dumbfounded by my experience at a local coffee shop.  On my right, two well-dressed, middle-aged professionals were speaking loudly:  sharing travel stories and chatting about favorite operas.  On my left, an elderly man, appearing to be homeless, reading the paper, and sipping his coffee.

The professional couple represents a certain portion of the nonprofit sector: patrons of the arts, top-level donors, and board members.

The elderly man represents a certain portion of the nonprofit sector:  a recipient of services and a reminder of the need for greater progress in social justice issues.

What is a nonprofit professional to do?  Discuss the latest community news with the donors (in the hopes for philanthropic conversation later) or ask the man to share his story (in the hopes for further insight into our ills as a society)?  Who has more to contribute to progress in our sector?

Ask my trusted colleague, Nathan Hand, likes to say, “Rainbows and puppy dogs OR dark, difficult issues?”

What would YOU do?  Please leave a comment with your response!

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