Hi everyone, I’ll be taking a break next month, so this will be the last post until August 1st. It’s probably good for me to take a break, because considering the rage I’m feeling, I might say things I’ll regret later. I know many of you are devasted by the overturning of Roe v Wade, and fearful of what is sure to come next: The reversal of marriage equality, the ending of rights to contraception, the further erosion of speech and other freedoms, among other horrible things.
(By the way, if you are a supporter of forced pregnancy who is celebrating this decision by five fascist Supreme Court Justices, get the hell off my blog and out of my life; you are not pro-life, you are pro-death, because this decision will kill millions of people, especially those of marginalized identities. I am not here to debate with you about basic human rights; take your 1850’s-era morality elsewhere).
In our line of work, there are amazing board members who make our lives easier. They look out for staff; remember their birthdays and send flowers; advocate for equitable policies like paid family leave and sabbaticals; and pick up the tabs at lunch and coffee.
And then there are board members whose unholy presence constantly threatens to open a gate for ancient god Cthulhu to enter this reality and cover the land in a thousand years of agony; who are so irritating and possibly destructive that you imagine a giant squid-faced being ravaging the world and you think “that might not be so bad.”
Hi everyone, next week we have PEEP (Party to Enhance Equity in Philanthropy), a series of fun events where nonprofit and foundation staff and board members get together and stare into one another’s eyes while the wind rustles through the leaves and the warm sun paints the afternoon with shades of rose-gold, heralding the beginning of a long, languid summer.
Or something like that; I might be romanticizing it a bit. It’s basically an agenda-free get-together. It won’t solve the power dynamics and systemic issues, of course, but it’s nice to find time for nonprofit and philanthropy folks to connect, and maybe cool stuff may result. Details for some of the events are listed at the end of this post. If you are having an event that’s not listed, fill out this form and I’ll mention it next week.
Some of you may recall that PEEP’s original name was Beverage to Enhance Equity in Relationships (BEER), which I came up with years ago. Lots of people found it amusing, and before the pandemic, BEER events were taking place in different geographic areas. But I was getting the occasional feedback from colleagues who are in recovery, or who have loved ones in recovery, saying that “BEER” was normalizing and possibly glorifying drinking. So the name was changed through a vote.
Over the past few years, I’ve been supporting a family member with alcohol addiction. The experience made me realize how awful this illness is, and also how ingrained a culture of drinking is in our society and in our sector. Our galas and other events are often saturated with booze. Drinking is often core to our hangouts. We joke about drinking all the time. I myself have made numerous jokes about alcohol on this blog, during meetings, and during my keynotes and panels, without stopping to think about how this may affect colleagues.
Considering how so many of us are so thoughtful of others in so many ways, this is an area I hope we can improve on. Here are some things we can all do:
Hi everyone. Just a reminder, before we dive into this week’s post, that the pandemic is not over. Some of y’all are acting like it is. Cases are surging. Get your boosters, wear masks, avoid indoor dining when you can, and stop double-dipping when you’re eating with other people lest you want me to smack the chopsticks out of your hand.
A few months ago, a colleague told me that they were writing a grant application. One of the questions was “what is your board’s giving rate? If it’s not 100%, please explain why.” This is a silly and archaic question that all funders need to stop asking. My colleague had written an answer to the effect that her org believed it was inequitable to focus on money as the most prioritized contribution, that they valued time and lived experience, and so they didn’t have 100% board giving nor did they care to measure it, etc. A dose of refreshing honesty so rare in our sector, like decent chairs and retirement savings.
Last week, I had bought my 9-year-old Viet his first bicycle. He got to choose it and he was very excited about it. It was my fault for leaving it overnight on our porch, where it got stolen. While he was at school, I went around the city to a few different stores, trying to find the exact same bicycle, coordinating with his mom so he wouldn’t know what was going on. We could have just told him the truth—and we will, someday, as an amusing anecdote when he’s older—but knowing our son, he would be worried about his bike, about the world. His excitement would give way to fear and anxiety. We wanted to save from that, to let him be a kid for a bit longer.
I was able to find the same bike, and he never knew what happened, and I left town for a speaking engagement in Park City, Utah. There I learned about the students and teachers who were murdered in Uvalde, Texas. We parents try to protect our kids from the horrors of reality. We replace their stolen bikes and sick goldfish and kiss their foreheads and tell them the world is not a terrible place. And then we send them to school, where they do active shooter drills to learn how to hide and remain quiet if someone comes to gun them down, and we hope they return home safely each day. The unimaginable pain and anguish the Uvalde families must be feeling, their lives forever shattered, knowing their loved ones, their babies, will never come home again.