Do I Need a Policy Against Ponzi Schemes & Other Stories from the Trenches

In today’s blog we discuss some unusual policies that Non Profits have implemented over the years…

So in my 15 years of consulting with non profits and sitting on boards, you can assume I have seen some weird stuff. I think the weirdest was when one executive director reached out to me and asked if I had a policy for a ponzi schemes. Truth be told, I had sample policies against recruiting individuals for an MLM company, recruiting clients or co-workers for religious purposes but never had needed to specify a ponzi scheme. Turns out a staff member was reaching to the clients of the organization to sign them up for a ponzi/pyramid scheme. The clients were very vulnerable and the perfect candidates for a ponzi scheme.  The individual was later charged and the organization did implement a no pyramid or ponzi scheme policy.

While this is certainly strange, it is not the strangest out there. Take a read at some of these unusual policies some nonprofits have implemented.

  • No Garlic or Onions Policy: A health and wellness nonprofit, focused on yoga and meditation, implemented a policy that prohibited the use of garlic and onions in any meals prepared for events or at their facilities. This policy stemmed from the belief in certain dietary practices that consider these foods to disrupt meditation and energy levels.
  • Mandatory Clown Training for Staff: A UK-based charity that focuses on children’s entertainment and therapy introduced a policy where all staff, regardless of their role, must undergo clown training. This policy was established not only to ensure that everyone could step into a performer role if needed but also to imbue the entire organization with a sense of fun and creativity, essential to their mission.
  • Silent Mondays: A nonprofit dedicated to promoting mental health and stress reduction instituted a “Silent Monday” policy for its staff. On Mondays, all communication was required to be non-verbal, including the use of sign language, writing, or gestures. This policy was introduced to encourage mindfulness and give employees a break from the constant noise of digital communication.
  • Pet Adoption Matching Outfits: An animal shelter implemented a unique policy where potential adopters were encouraged to wear outfits that matched the pet they were interested in adopting. This quirky idea was part of a marketing strategy to increase adoption rates and attract media attention, making the adoption process more engaging and fun.
  • Mandatory Disaster Response Training: A nonprofit focused on disaster relief required all staff, even those in administrative roles, to complete basic disaster response training. This policy ensured that in the event of a major disaster, every member of the organization could be deployed to assist, maximizing their response capabilities.
  • Banned Words List: A literacy-focused nonprofit created a list of words that were banned from use in all internal and external communications. This list included jargon and overly complex words, in line with their mission to promote clear and accessible communication. The policy aimed to ensure that all written and spoken language used by the nonprofit was easy to understand for people of all reading levels.
  • Zero Email Fridays: A nonprofit dedicated to work-life balance implemented a policy where no internal emails could be sent on Fridays. The idea was to encourage face-to-face communication and reduce the stress of constantly checking emails. This policy aimed to improve workplace culture and employee well-being.
  • Compulsory Costume Days: A children’s charity, known for its creative approach to fundraising, instituted mandatory costume days for staff once a month. On these days, everyone from the CEO to volunteers had to dress up in costumes, often themed around the charity’s current initiatives. This policy was designed to boost team spirit and draw attention to their cause in a fun, visible way.
  • Bicycle-Only Commute Policy: An environmental nonprofit, advocating for sustainable transportation, implemented a policy where staff members were encouraged, and in some cases required, to commute to work by bicycle. This policy was part of their commitment to reducing carbon emissions and promoting a healthy lifestyle.
  • Random Acts of Kindness Requirement: A nonprofit focused on community service created a policy where each staff member had to perform a random act of kindness every week. These acts were logged and shared at weekly meetings. The policy aimed to foster a culture of generosity and empathy, both within the organization and in the community.
  • Silence Retreats for Staff: A mental health nonprofit introduced a policy where employees were encouraged to participate in annual silence retreats. These retreats involved several days of complete silence, meditation, and reflection. The policy was based on the belief that such experiences could lead to better mental health and increased productivity.

And the winner is…

  • Ban on Blue Pens: An environmental nonprofit once implemented a policy banning the use of blue pens. This peculiar rule stemmed from an incident where important documents were mistakenly signed with erasable blue ink, leading to legal complications. To prevent such mishaps, the organization switched exclusively to black ink, which is more reliable for official documents.

Have you ever heard of an unusual policy being implemented? Or has one ever been implemented in your workplace? Drop us a line



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