Frank Underwood’s Tips for Your Organization

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I’m in a White House withdrawal right now. I just finished The West Wing on Netflix, waiting on Scandal‘s season to start back up, and still pondering the House of Cards 3rd season.

Sarah in DC
Me in front of the Capitol, basically being Claire Underwood without the shady or illegal stuff.

So, I was pretty pumped when I found Vu Le‘s blog post 9 Lessons from House of Cards We Can Apply to Nonprofit Work.  (If you have not subscribed to Vu’s blog Nonprofit With Balls, I need you to do that now.)

In this March 2014 post, Vu pulls nine quotes from Frank Underwood and relates them back to nonprofit work, which are all applicable for arts organizations.

My favorites from the article:

1. “That’s how you devour a whale, Doug: One bite at a time.” Frank Underwood didn’t get nominated as Secretary of State, and he is as pissed as a porcupine in a bucket. He wants to destroy everyone who has wronged him. A huge undertaking, says his Chief-of-Staff, Doug, prompting Frank to respond with the above quote.

Lesson for nonprofits: Even difficult tasks, like creating a strategic plan, or planning an event, or moving an entrenched board, or cleaning out the office fridge, can be done if you are methodical and break the goal into smaller chunks.

5. “Doesn’t matter what side you’re on, everybody’s got to eat.” Marty leads a teachers’ strike, which takes place in front of a fundraising dinner that Claire is organizing. Frank and Claire bring out ribs and offer them to the protesters, who take the food, dealing a critical blow to the strike.

Lesson for nonprofits: Two lessons: First, no matter what our nonprofits do, we all need resources to keep going. Second, figure out weaknesses and exploit them. For the sake of making the world better, of course. (By the way, that fundraising dinner raises half a million. I had to take a break during this episode to weep softly into a throw pillow).

9. “The foundation of this White House is not brick and mortar. It’s us.” The First Lady, trying to explain to her husband why it’s important that they work on their marriage by getting some counseling.

Lesson for nonprofits: The foundation of our work is not the office, or the computers, or the capital projects or the funds or whatever. It is the people who choose to be here doing this stuff. We must take care of each other, because good staff and board and donors and volunteers, they are what makes everything possible. Be nice to people.

About Sarah Marczynski

Sarah joined the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera in 2010 working with the Marketing and Development staffs and quickly became interested in community engagement and education. She holds a Master’s of Public Administration focusing in Nonprofit Arts Management from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where her capstone and other work under Dr. Christopher Horne examined attendance patterns in high-art cultural institutions and network relationships between local arts agencies and cultural partners. She also holds a Bachelor’s of Vocal Music Education from UTC, where she studied under Dr. Kevin Ford and Ron Ulen.

Sarah has been active in the Chattanooga arts community, serving as the founding chair of the Chattanooga Young Artistic Network (CYAN), graduating from the Holmberg Arts Leadership Institute, and working with the Chattanooga Boys Choir, the Choral Arts Society, the Hunter Museum of American Art, the Chattanooga Bach Choir.

Outside of the arts world, Sarah pretends to be an excellent cook (but she's broken 2 ovens), reads Jane Austen novels, and watches way too much House of Cards.

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