Walk through this spooky nonprofit-themed haunted house…if you dare

[Image description: A silhouette of a hand, directly facing the camera. In the background is a blurry figure. It’s like someone is holding up a hand. It is so spooky. Just looking at this picture so I can write the image description is giving me the creeps. Why do I write blogs at 1am? Oh man, I am getting creeped out. Pixabay.com

Hi everyone. Quick announcement: This Wednesday, 9/18, from 1pm to 2:30pm EST, the co-authors of Unicorns Unite and I are having a conversation about how all of us can work together more effectively as a sector. Join virtually (or in person in San Francisco). It’s free.

It may seem too early to write a Halloween-inspired post, but Halloween is awesome, so it’s never too early to get into the spirit. Also, next week’s post will likely be extremely serious and possibly get a whole bunch of you mad at me, so might as well butter you up with a lighter piece this week.

A few years ago, my partner took me to a haunted house. It was dark and spooky, with grisly lights and decorations and there was fog everywhere and people dressed up like zombies and serial killers and sometimes they would chase you while holding chainsaws and screaming. So basically very much like our sector!

This gave me an idea. We need a nonprofit-themed haunted house! Here is what one might look like. Thanks to everyone on the NAF Facebook page who contributed ideas; and apologies that not all were incorporated and that individuals couldn’t be credited. Make sure you don’t read this by yourself at night, because it is terrifying. Add your thoughts in the comment section, and on Twitter with #NonprofitHauntedHouse

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Foundations, it’s time to stop using grant applications to distribute funding

[image description: a happy and very tiny little brown mouse, being held in someone’s thumb and maybe two other fingers. Their head is scarcely bigger than the person’s thumb. Their eyes are closed, and they seem to be smiling contentedly. Aw, what a cute little mouse. Pixabay.com]

Hi everyone. Today’s post will be long and serious. But before we get into it, here are ways you can help victims of Hurricane Dorian. Also, my org RVC is growing and hiring a Capacity Building Lead. It’s an amazing position that combines capacity building and equity. Don’t take my word for it, here is a quick video from the team.

Our sector talks a lot about grants. Out of 380 posts on this blog, the most popular post of all time is “Answers on grant proposals if nonprofits were brutally honest with funders.” On GrantAdvisor (a Yelp-like website where you can provide anonymous review of foundations) the top complaints are about grant processes. I came up with the FLAIL Scale a while ago, a 61-point checklist for funders to measure how aggravating their grants are, followed up with the GRAVE Gauge, to determine the level of annoyingness of grantseekers. There are endless articles and workshops on how to increase your chances to get grants. And many foundations, to their credit, have been working to streamline their grant applications.

But maybe we are not having the right conversations. Maybe the question is not “how do we improve grant applications” but rather “are grant applications the best way for funders to determine who should be funded? Have they ever been? Is this tool broken or even harmful, and if so, can we afford to keep using it?”

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10 lessons for nonprofits I learned from getting a vasectomy

[Image description: A golden pair of scissors, lying on the ground, holding a beige twine of some sort. Wow, this image is actually relevant to the topic at hand, while being both suggestive and yet not graphic. But I am sure I will stay up wondering if I should have used a picture of a baby animal. Pixabay.com]

Hi everyone. Last week, I got a vasectomy. Normally I would not talk about highly personal stuff like this, but there are lots of guys who are still squeamish about this simple and relatively painless procedure, so I am trying to help normalize it by being public about it. We dudes should do our part in family planning, and getting a vasectomy is a great option, as it is extremely effective while less intrusive and with fewer complications than what women have to go through. As this is a nonprofit blog, however, I am going to extrapolate my experience into lessons for all of us in the sector. So here are the lessons:

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Are you an overheadhole? Why we need to just stop talking about overhead

[Image description: A black rottweiler puppy, looking slightly bashful. Maybe it’s because they’ve been bragging about their nonprofit’s overhead ratio on their website. Pixabay.com]

One of the points Unicorns Unite (the book that I co-authored with Jessamyn Shams-Lau and Jane Leu; you can order it here) is “Don’t be an overheadhole.” An #Overheadhole is a person, nonprofit, or foundation who is obsessed with low overhead. They reinforce the idea that any organization that has “high” overhead is terrible and ineffective, with immoral staff who hoard money for themselves and who have bad personal hygiene and never call their mothers. Oh yeah, overheadholes?! Take a look in the mirror! YOU’RE the ones who never floss! Is that a piece of spinach stuck in your teeth, or just your blatant ignorance?!

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Content creators, here’s an Equity Screen to use as you work on your next blog post, book, podcast, or video

[Image description: Two otters, staring off into the distance. They look kind of solemn. But they’re soooooo cute. In fact, I would say they’re…otterly adorable! (Shut up, I’m allowed to make one bad pun per blog post). These otters have nothing to do with this post; it’s just been a while since we had pictures of cute animals for no reason. Pixabay.com]

A while ago, someone emailed me to ask for help getting word out on a blog post they wrote on a report about workplace satisfaction or something. I asked, “Did your report disaggregate data on employees of color?” They said no, sounding apologetic. This happens all the time, where diversity and inclusion are an afterthought, something that is a nice-to-have, but not an essential element.

I understand there are times when it makes sense to talk about issues in the general sense. But all of us need to develop and sharpen the lens we use to look at the world and the issues we are addressing. The problems we are tackling are all affected by multiple forms of intersecting inequity, and we must train ourselves to see and analyze race, ethnicity, class, age, gender, disability, neuro-diversity, LGBTQIA identity, etc. Those of us who create content, especially, must take this seriously, as our blogs, articles, podcasts, tweets, videos, books, rock musical, etc., may reach thousands of people. And if we are not thoughtful and deliberate, then we may be unconsciously reinforcing certain things as the default, namely white heteronormative cis-male able-bodied neuro-typical norms.

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