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A common complaint we have in the nonprofit sector is that kids don’t dream about going into nonprofit as a career. Well, that’s because there are so few children’s books about our work! Just imagine how inspired our kids would be if only there were more books about being an ED, or raising money, or running programs, or filing tax forms. Here, read these classic books re-imagined and tell me they wouldn’t inspire children and maybe a few adults to do what we do.
The White-Paper Princess
Elizabeth was a princess who lived in a castle that provided many programs and services to the surrounding villagers. She was talking to the King’s representative named Ronald at her castle and was just about to get a commitment for a three-year boon from the King when a dragon swooped down and burned her castle and the forest around it that many villagers relied on for food.
Ronald said, “Uh…it looks like you’re going through a period of instability, and the Royal Family would be jittery about giving you a boon at this point. Let’s talk when you’re back on your feet.”
That makes no sense, thought Elizabeth, this is exactly when we would need the support. She was angry so she decided to go talk to the Royal Family. She knocked on the door. “Go away,” said a Royal Family member, “we are busy doing important things. Only Royal Family members and key staff are allowed in.”
“A dragon burned down the forest,” said Elizabeth, “people will need food.”
“Do you have a white paper to prove this is so?”
“No, but I will write one.” Elizabeth worked day and night to do research and write a white paper on why the forest and castle’s burning down will lead to starvation and other problems. After a month, with lots of people hungry, she finished her work and handed the white paper, written on parchment, to Ronald to give to the Royal Family.
Ronald came back and said, “Sorry, you don’t have the backing of an elite research institution. Your white paper is worthless.”
Elizabeth quit helping villagers and went into real estate.
Don’t Let the Pigeon Talk to a Major Donor
Hi, I’m a Development Director. I’m taking a quick break. Please handle things while I’m away. And remember, don’t let the pigeon talk to a major donor.
[Pigeon enters]. I thought she would never leave. So, hey, can I talk to a major donor? Please?
I promise I’ll be careful. I can ask for money. How hard can it be? My cousin Herb asks people for bread at the park all the time.
You look skeptical.
I’ll tell you what, I’ll just call a major donor and ask for one million dollars.
No? OK, I’ll ask for five dollars.
Please please please pleeaase?!
Come on! The previous Development Director would let me!
Hey! I have an idea! You pretend to be a donor, and I’ll tell you that 100% of your donations go toward programming, none for overhead!
What? That’s not a good idea? That’s terrible? You’re no fun!
What’s the big deal anyway?
LET ME TALK TO A MAJOR DONOR!!!
Fine. Whatever. You never let me do anything.
[Development Director reenters]. I’m here! Did you let the pigeon talk to a major donor? No? Thank you! See you later!
[Pigeon reappears] Hey, she’s gone! So…can we plan a golf tournament?
Harold and the Purple Budgeting Crayon
One night, Harold decided to take his purple crayon and finalize his organizational budget. Hos chair was held together with duct tape and uncomfortable, so he made a new, ergonomic chair to sit on. As he sat on his chair, he saw that his computer was 12 years old, so he created a brand new computer with dual monitors.
Harold looked at the draft budget that his senior staff had put together. There was a huge gap between expense revenues. He made some fancy buildings, each with a group of people sitting around a table discussing grant proposals he had submitted. They wanted a logic model so he produced some arrows and boxes with words in them. Harold made a calendar, then another calendar, then another calendar. Meanwhile, he drew a bunch of individual donors writing checks.
Harold looked at his budget. There was still a gap. He used his purple crayon to cross out a few things. He made an org chart with some happy smiling faces and made some X’es over a few of the faces. The faces were now sad, and so was Harold, so he drew some tissues and used them to wipe away his tears.
The Pout-Pout Boss
Deep in a nonprofit, as sometimes is the case, works an Executive Director, who has a punchable face.
“I’m a pout-pout boss, with a pout-pout creed. So I’ll whine and undermine, and ensure we don’t succeed. Bleh. Blehh. Blehhhh.”
Along came an admin assistant, very bright-eyed and smart, who hoped that her advice would be taken to heart.
“Hey there, Boss, I think it would be grand, if you created some goals and timelines, and maybe stick to plans.”
“Nice try, Ms. Assistant. Why don’t you just do your work. You were late two minutes today. I know because I lurked.”
“I’m a pout-pout boss, with a pout-pout creed. So I’ll whine and undermine, and ensure we don’t succeed. Bleh. Blehhh. Blehhhhhhhh.”
Along comes a program director, hard-working and very gracious. She recently attended a workshop in conversations courageous.
“Hey there, Boss, it needs to be said: When good things happen, you can’t just take all the creds.”
“Ms. Program Director, I’m not sure that I agree. You can do it how you want, when you are the ED.”
“I’m a pout-pout boss, with a pout-pout creed. So I’ll whine and undermine, and ensure we don’t succeed. Bleh. Blehhhhh. Blehhhhhhhhhhhh.”
Along comes a consultant, after the team threatens to quit. He hopes to help make it better, if only a little bit.
“Hey Mr. Director, I have these charts and graphs, that show when the board criticizes you, you take it out on staff.”
“Well, Mr. Consultant, it’s obvious it would seem, that you are biased against me, and this is all part of a scheme.”
“I’m a pout-pout boss, with a pout-pout creed. So I’ll whine and undermine, and ensure we don’t succeed. Bleh. Blehhhhhhhh. Blehhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.”
Along comes a new board chair, who is strong and full of sass. She mobilizes enough votes, to fire pout-pout’s ass.
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