Category Archives: Work-Life Balance

A letter to Santa from the nonprofit sector

santa

[Image description: The image is of a man dressed as Santa, sitting in front of a fireplace with a white mantle. His robe is red with white trimmings, accented with a large black belt with a large golden buckle. He has a row of what may be red poinsettia flowers and green holly leaves lining the trimming of his hat, which is flopped over to the right side of his head. He is looking directly at the camera, his head slightly tilted. He has a stern or wry look. His hands are in white gloves. One hand is on his glasses, as if he were lowering them, the other resting on his belt. On the mantle there are several brown pine cones, white snowflakes, and red ornaments. Off to Santa’s right, in the background, is a tree decorated with red and white ornaments. There are several red stockings with white trimmings hanging from the mantle.]

Dear Santa,

I know you are extremely busy. I mean, you are technically a nonprofit, and this is December after all. My colleagues are wrapped up in licking thousands of envelopes, handwriting tons of thank-you notes, organizing a gazillion events for the community, and consuming leftover holiday party wine and chips. (Stop judging us, Santa. Like your lunch is always so balanced). Since they are occupied with year-end tasks, I asked my colleagues what they wanted from you, and I’m synthesizing their responses, to save you some time. I am writing a letter to you on behalf of all of us in the nonprofit sector.

Santa, this has been a horrible year. First-episode-of-Black-Mirror horrible. Superman-IV:-Quest-for-Peace horrible. And many of us are not exactly looking forward to next year either. It’s OK. All of us are rolling up our Ross-Dress-for-Less sleeves and are determined to fight for a just and inclusive society.

It won’t be easy though. That’s why we need you. You can help us out by granting some of these wishes below. This Christmas, please give us: Continue reading

Why the new overtime rules are good for nonprofits and thus for our community

chihuahua-820085_960_720If you work in nonprofit in the US, you have heard that new federal overtime laws/rules are coming. They affect how we categorize the professionals in our sector—“Exempt” or “Non-Exempt”—and how we pay them, whether through set salaries or through hourly wages that include overtime for hours worked over 40. If reading that sentence makes you want to hyperventilate into a paper bag for a few minutes, you’re not alone. Many people are freaking out about these new laws and how to comply with them, because they take effect this coming December!

By the way, since this post may be long and kind of dry, I’m going to insert more pictures of baby animals than normal to motivate you to keep reading. The baby animals have nothing to do with the content of this post.

The Basics

Basically, to be considered Exempt starting in December, an employee must now be paid $47,476, which is double the current level of $23,660. If an employee is paid less than $47,476, they cannot be considered Exempt and must be paid overtime for any extra hours worked.  

Since I am not an expert on this subject, I checked in with colleagues and organizations who are better versed and will be quoting them heavily. I highly recommend you spend some time on this page, Adjusting to New Overtime Rules, by 501 Commons. It has work duties tests, a workbook to help you calculate whether to pay overtime or increase someone’s salary, a free recorded webinar training hosted by a compensation expert, a list of other resources, and FAQs. Continue reading

Your self-care may be holding you back and making people around you hate your guts

meditation-473753_960_720On Friday I attended the Seattle chapter’s monthly ED Happy Hour. A bunch of EDs showed up and for four hours we all drank and laughed and stuffed our faces with sushi and discussed “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and its parallels to nonprofit work. It was awesome, as usual, to get to hang out with my brilliant colleagues. At 9pm, as the group disbanded, we found out an ED was planning to head back to her office for a couple more hours of work. “What’s wrong with you?!” we hissed, pelting her with edamame shells, “Go home to your family!”

The majority of us in this sector, probably 90%, work ridiculous hours at very stressful jobs, and we really do need to take better care of ourselves, and our organizations as well as society need to do more to create supportive conditions—fair wages, adequate benefits, sufficient family leave and vacation time, a culture of learning and camaraderie, a working printer, two-ply toilet paper, etc.—so it’s not just our individual responsibility to ward off burnout.

There are plenty of thoughtful articles on these topics, such as this one by Beth Kanter called “How Can Nonprofits Switch from Scarcity to Abundance Mindsets When It Comes to Self-Care?” and this one by Mary Cahalane called “Your work or a life: A painful choice no one should have to make,” and this one by B. Loewe calling for “An End to Self-Care” (in favor of a more holistic “community care.”) I’ve also touched on this topic a few times, such as “7 self-care tips for nonprofit professionals” and “The courage for mediocrity: Why we nonprofit professionals need to give ourselves a break.

This post today, though, is to bring some balance. In some ways, maybe because we talk so much about it, that self-care has become somewhat of a punchline to various jokes: “Hey, are you attending that breakfast gala of one of our partner organizations?” “Nope! Self-care!” “Hey, I heard you were asked to lead the diversity and inclusion committee?” “I declined. Self-care!” “Did you drink my bottle of Mike’s hard lemonade that I was saving for lunch?!” “Yup! Self-care!” Continue reading

10 rules for dating in the nonprofit sector

loveDozens of people have asked me to address dating within the nonprofit sector, and by dozens of people, I mean one drunk single person at a fundraising gala. This is not a topic that we talk much about, but it is important, because of self-care and blah blah, so I asked the brilliant and attractive people in the NWB Facebook community to help create a list of rules. Here is the list below. Please keep in mind that this is not a comprehensive list. Rules may be changed, and new rules may be added. 

10 Rules for Dating in the Nonprofit Sector

Rule 1, the Cardinal Rule of Dating in the Nonprofit Sector: Do not date other people from the nonprofit sector*. Yes, proximity is powerful, especially when so many of us work ridiculous hours and see each other all the time. But resist the temptations. First, because we deserve a decent car and house and occasional access to organic blueberries, and the chances for those things greatly decrease if we only stick with each other. But more importantly, our work depends on the rest of society understanding and appreciating the role that nonprofit plays, so we have to marry outward. It’s not gold digging, it’s thinking of the children. Continue reading

21 time-saving tips for busy nonprofit professionals

One of the most common questions that I am asked is, “Dude, how do you manage to find time to write a regular blog post each week, while being a full-time ED, while also maintaining a family that includes a two-year-old, while also coordinating the underground Nonprofit Fight Club?”

Oh wait…uh, forget the last part. There is no underground Nonprofit Fight Club. Not at all.

As nonprofit warriors, most of us are strapped for time. Many of us have work that does not end when the day ends. Like artists working on a painting, there is always something else that we can improve, another donor to call, another report to read, another board member to email, another grant rejection notice to weep softly over as Boys II Men plays gently in the background (“Let’s don’t wait till the water runs dry…” It’s like they know us and our pain.)

Sometimes, when I hear my business friends complain about their 9-to-5, I just want to grab them by the collars of their shirts and yell, “You exquisite fool! I would trade my soul for a 9-to-5! Look at these empty, haunted eyes! These are the eyes of an exempt nonprofit staff! Is this what you want?!” Then I would slap them once or twice to drive the point home.

Anyway, since time is of the essence, I asked the Nonprofit With Balls Facebook Community for creative tips on how to save time during our day so that we can use even more minutes to make the world better. Or else go home before our partners break up with us and our children forget our faces. Here are the tips, in no order of importance or coherence; the ones in quotations are contributed by NWB readers. I hope that these suggestions are helpful. Please add yours to the comment section. Continue reading