Author Archives: Vu

New tax “reform” bill could seriously screw nonprofits and the people we serve

[Image description: A cute little brown bunny on a fluffy white carpet, in front of a light blue wall. Image from Pixabay.com]

Hi everyone. Before we launch into today’s exciting topic, check out the pilot episode of this hilarious show called “The Humanitarians.” It’s set at an organization called Stuff We Don’t Want (SWEDOW), and had me cracking up at clever one-liners like “Have we assessed the actual need for winter coats in Sub-Saharan Africa?” Check it out. We need to support more shows about nonprofit work.

Unfortunately, the rest of this post is about tax “reform.” I know, I know, I don’t really want to talk about it either. But, like taking out the compost or putting on deodorant or remembering our partner’s birthdays, we have to do it, or else bad things happen. To reward you for reading, though, and for me to actually write this, I’m putting in pictures of bunnies throughout this post. The bunnies have nothing to do with taxes.   Continue reading

7 nonprofit scary stories to tell in the dark

[Image description: A hand, glowing blue, with a creepy blurry blue background. Image obtained from Pixabay.com]

Hi everyone. I usually don’t post more than once a week, but I love Halloween. It’s my favorite holiday. So here are some terrifying stories set in the sector. Read them, but beware, they are really, really scary, so make sure you are prepared. Happy Halloween.

The Salary History

Every day, Francine applied for jobs, spending time to carefully tailor and craft her resume and cover letter. There were never any responses. It seemed hopeless, until she saw a posting for a job that seemed perfect for her. But as she scanned to the bottom, a sinking feeling swelled up in her stomach. From outside her cold attic room, a crow cackled ominously. There was no salary range listed. A shiver ran through her spine as her eyes rested on a solitary line “Please submit resume and cover, including your salary history for the previous three positions.” Three positions. Three. Why, she thought, what does why previous salary at a previous position have anything to do with this completely different job? What sort of unethical BS is this? Desperate to pay rent and to eat, she applied anyway. Francine got the job, and because she had been underpaid before, she was now doomed to be underpaid at this job too. And the next job. And the next. And at all jobs in her future. Continue reading

37 brilliant nonprofit-inspired Halloween costumes

[Image description: Picture of nonprofit professional, Leah Sakala. Leah has her hair in a bun on top of her head. A small sign on a stick is planted in her hair. The sign says “NONPROFIT.” She is demonstrating the “Nonprofit Overhead” costume. Source: Leah Sakala]

Hi everyone. Quick reminders. Reminder 1: If you haven’t reviewed a foundation on GrantAdvisor.org, please do so; GrantAdvisor lets you anonymously review foundations. Reminder 2: Nonprofit Happy Hour Facebook group, which has over 34,000 members, is now back from hiatus and open every day; thank you to all the new moderators and volunteers who signed up to make this community even more awesome than it was. And if you’re an ED/CEO, there’s a support group for you, because it’s lonely at the top, eating protein bars and crying over payroll. Reminder 3: Make sure to floss each day.

Halloween is tomorrow, and if you’re like me, you’ve procrastinated on figuring out your costume. Well, procrastinate no further. I asked the Nonprofit AF Facebook community for suggestions of costumes that are inspired by nonprofit work, and the brilliant people there did not disappoint! Here, I am sure one of these ideas will make you the most popular person at whichever Halloween party you’re going to. 

Note, there are more than 37 ideas here. I just like the number 37.  Continue reading

Your crappy chair is not a badge of honor

[Image description: A rolling black, high-backed office chair. Its seat is ripped in three places, with a large tear about eight inches long on one side. This was a chair in Vu’s office. Image taken by Vu. Because he was procrastinating from writing a grant proposal.]

[Hi everyone, before we begin today’s post, if you are in the US and have not written a review of a foundation or two on Grantadvisor.org, please take a minute to do so. It’s like a Yelp for foundations, but all the reviews are anonymous! And every new reviewer gets a puppy*!  *This may not be true]

 

This week, I went to Fort McMurray, Canada, to speak at events put on by FuseSocial and Capacity Canada. Fort McMurray is rebuilding after a devastating wildfire swept through and forced the town to evacuate. It was inspiring to feel the palpable sense of community and resilience from the warm-hearted people there, some of whom made a special whiskey from a bunch of barley that got smoked during the fire. As the old Canadian proverb goes, “When Life smokes your barley, you make whiskey, eh?”

During my keynote, which focused on the future of the sector and which heavily referenced Star Trek and included the trademark pictures of baby animals, I mentioned how we all need to get over the Scarcity and Martyrdom complex. “Half of you are sitting on crappy chairs that you got from a bank that moved or something,” I said, and people laughed and nodded.

The crappy chair is a hilarious trope in our sector. Everyone seems to have some sort of crappy chair story. There’s my ED friend whose chair was so bad her board had to force her to buy a new chair. At my own organization there was a chair with multiple holes in it; I took this picture of it and posted it on NAF’s Facebook page, which got sympathetic comments like, “My chair was missing a wheel for a full year. I just told people trying to balance was strengthening my core.” Someone wrote, “I am Spartacus!”

But one person wrote “Obviously you work for cheapskates. Everybody deserves to be at least comfortable in their workplace. This is degrading.” To which l replied, “Well, considering that I am the boss, you may just be right [crying face].” Continue reading

Can we agree on this simple definition of Equity?

[Image description: An open silver briefcase with stacks of 100-dollar bills held together with rubber bands. Strewn around the briefcase are loose bills. Image obtained from Pixabay.com]

In a previous article, I mentioned that equity has been like coconut water. It’s all over the place. It’s flavored with pineapple, sometimes with chocolate. Everyone is drinking Equity; it’s on websites, in conference themes, and in those “word-cloud” thingies. Given how pervasive it is, it’s weird that we don’t seem to have a common, universally-accepted definition for it. As this article states “Very few foundations had a clear definition of what equity meant to them internally, and absolutely no one saw any common definition emerging from the field anytime soon.” So, after thinking about it for a while and talking to other leaders, here’s my take on it, at least in the nonprofit/philanthropic sense:

“Equity is about ensuring the communities most affected by injustice get the most money to lead in the fight to address that injustice, and if that means we break the rules to make that happen, then that’s what we do.”

Some of you are probably thinking, “Money? That’s your definition? That’s simplistic AF. Maybe you should stick to writing nonprofit jokes.” Yes. It’s money. Equity is about money and whether that money is going to the people most screwed over by our society. All of us need to stop avoiding this basic premise. Continue reading