Horseshoes is a familiar lawn game in the United States, especially during the summer holiday seasons.  The rules of the game and scoring are simple. Players throw the horseshoe at a stake about forty feet away.  A horseshoe completely enveloping the stake (called a “ringer”) is worth three points; one leaning on the stake (called a “leaner”) is worth two points; and the closest to the stake is worth one point if there are no ringers or leaners.   I will be using this scale to rate some Not-For-Profit (“NFP”) entities in the news recently.

A RingerGrant Thornton, an international accounting firm, announced it will help smaller NFP entities with financing.  Larger NFP organizations can find funding more easily than smaller entities. A smaller entity might be doing excellent work in a niche area and may never attain enough critical mass to attract funders.  Alternatively, an NFP might be in a start-up phase and is struggling with working capital.  Grant Thornton is graciously funding selected NFPs through its Purple Paladin program. For more information, please see their website at: This is wonderful news from a great organization. 

A LeanerAmtrak anticipates breaking even in 2020, fantastic news for this railroad system since it has run losses for almost fifty years.   The most recent year saw Amtrak posting an operating loss of approximately $30 million (that’s right—million with an “m” and not billion with a “b”) dollars, setting the stage for its first breakeven year.  This would be fantastic, not only for the taxpayers and Amtrak riders, but for those with a sense of nostalgia.  W.W. Rostow (who was unfortunately called ‘Bomber Rostow” by one of my professors because of his support of the Vietnam War) claimed railroads were a leading industry in the development of the United States.  While this theory has drawn much criticism, it is fair to say the railroads were an important part of American history.

Completely Missing the Stake:  The U. S. Post Office estimated its loss for this fiscal year could be $8 billion.  Even worse, there is no turnaround in sight. The amount of first-class mail will continue to decline, and its unfunded pension liability has been estimated to be about $40 billion.  You don’t have to be a business school graduate to figure out declining revenues with big liabilities is not a good thing.

If you have any other favorites, please forward them to me for my next game of horseshoes!

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