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From the Executive Director: Fiction or Fact? Myth or Truth?

Hedy Nuriel
Executive Director
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 41 No. 5, October-November 2005, p. 98.

Who can be a Leader? What can nonprofit organizations do? What is changing about LLL? Do you know the answers to these questions? Sometimes we think we know answers -- we've "heard" things that lead us to a conclusion; yet what we "hear" may be based more in myth than fact. I would like to examine some common assumptions and offer some clarity.

About Leader Accreditation

Myth: If a mother has worked outside the home for pay and been separated from her children, she cannot be a Leader Applicant.

Fact: Appendix 18 of the Policies and Standing Rules Notebook (PSR) states:

A mother can sometimes combine commitments that take her away from her baby with an experience of mothering through breastfeeding that is consistent with LLLI philosophy.
Each situation is unique. It is a Leader's responsibility to dialogue with an interested mother to determine if and how her experience fits with an experience of mothering through breastfeeding. The Guidelines for Leaders numbers six through 13 in Appendix 18 can help the Leader and mother look for examples of LLL philosophy in her experience. Leader Applicants write to their Leader Accreditation Department (LAD) representatives about this topic, just as they do about other aspects of LLL philosophy.

Myth: Any mother who human milk feeds cannot be considered for LLL leadership.

Fact: The Prerequisites to Applying for Leadership specify: "Mother values nursing at her breast as the optimal way to nourish, nurture, and comfort her baby." They also note: "Special consideration may be given to a woman whose personal breastfeeding experience is outside the realm of a normal course of breastfeeding." This "special consideration" clause usually applies to situations where physical challenges or abnormalities (e.g., adoption or cleft palate) prevent normal breastfeeding. Often in these cases the mother is able to partially nurse at the breast. Her parenting would mimic mothering through breastfeeding. For example, one Leader whose cleft palate baby was unable to nurse held her baby close to her every time she gave a bottle of her milk, changing sides as if she were nursing.

Leaders who have questions about Leader accreditation can consult with a LAD representative.

About Nonprofit Organizations in the USA

Myth: Nonprofit organizations can't make a profit.

Fact: The United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidelines clearly state that profits cannot be distributed to nonprofit board members (as corporate profits are to shareholders), but they don't say that nonprofit organizations can't have profits. In fact, nonprofit organizations need surpluses ("profits") to even out cash flows, to provide reserves for emergencies, and to pay for equipment, research, staff development, building renovations, and other necessary investments.

Myth: Nonprofit organizations can't charge for their services.

Fact: Actually, many nonprofit organizations exist mostly on fees charged. Some examples include nonprofit preschools that charge tuition, community choirs that sell tickets to their concerts, and counseling agencies that charge for services. LLLI made a decision that Leaders would be volunteers and not charge for their services.

Myth: Nonprofit organizations can't lobby.

Fact: Nonprofit organizations may not engage in any electoral activity -- i.e., they cannot support or oppose candidates. However, they may support or oppose ballot measures or issues of importance to their members (such as for public school bonds or against new immigration laws). In addition, nonprofit organizations may encourage legislators to support or oppose various pieces of legislation -- as long as such lobbying activities are an "insubstantial" part of their activities.

Under IRS rules in the USA, a 501(c)(3) organization is allowed to endorse and fully support legislation. We may educate legislators on any issue, and a nonprofit organization's staff and volunteers are allowed to write to law makers, city councils, etc.

About Change within LLL

Myth: There is some underlying force that is trying to change who we are as an organization.

Fact: The LLLI Board of Directors has repeatedly affirmed that it will not change LLL philosophy or concepts. It has added a Vision Purpose to the existing purpose statement, but has not altered nor attempted to alter the philosophy or concepts. The Bylaws require that at least two thirds of the Board must be Leaders; this majority will ensure that LLL maintains its original focus, values, and approach.

Myth: The reason mothers who work outside the home can now be accredited is because of the Renewal Initiative.

Fact: The Prerequisites to Applying for Leadership were reviewed by a committee beginning in 1994; new prerequisites and accreditation guidelines were developed and released in 1998. An article in LEAVEN (Vol. 34, No. 4), "History of the Committee to Evaluate Leader Accreditation Criteria" stated, "These new prerequisites and guidelines contained more flexibility in the area of mother-baby separation." On the other hand, the Renewal Initiative's Drafting Team met for the first time in April 2001 to begin exploration of LLL purpose and principles.

Myth: The Chaordic Commons is trying to change LLL.

Fact: Based on recommendations from an internationally diverse population of Leaders convened at a Feasibility Meeting in 2000, the LLLI Board of Directors voted to work with the Chaordic Commons (at this time named the Chaordic Alliance) to effect organizational restructuring, a topic that had been studied and discussed for at least eight years prior. The Chaordic Commons' role has been to guide and support Leaders in making changes Leaders expect to benefit LLL. The Board is interested in Leaders' ideas and opinions related to renewal and encourages them to communicate thoughtfully and respectfully about them. It has no intention of changing (or letting any group change) the organization in a way that would upset the majority of Leaders.

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