We should build a nonprofit-themed theme park!


theme parkHi everyone, I am still in Hawaii on vacation. However, that does not mean I can slack off on writing a blog post on Monday. Consistency is very important. As I often tell my son, “Son,” I would say, “whatever you decide to do, always be consist–aaarrrgh, why did you bite Daddy’s toes?! Do you think that was funny? That was not funny!”

Hawaii has been great, something I have sorely been needing for a while. The people here are so friendly and sweet, and the shaved ice tastes like happiness and childhood and unrestricted funds. I have been spending a lot of time with my wife and baby son and taken lots and lots of naps and drank a bunch of drinks that have little paper umbrellas on them. And I only checked my work emails about 20 times total.

There has been a couple of highlights on this trip. First, I met with the ED Ryan and Development Director Cheri of Hands In Helping Out (HIHO), a wonderful organization that recruits, trains, and matches volunteers with opportunities, all the while making the experience of volunteering fun for everyone involved. We went to a raw vegan restaurant, and while chewing on some “escargots” made from mushrooms and cashews, we grumbled about restricted funding and the lack of support of critical things like volunteer management. Even in paradise, nonprofit directors are frustrated with certain things, like all of us in the mainland are. “Funders only want to support NEW programs, forget tried and true ones,” we grumbled, using flaxseed crackers to scoop up some raw olive tapenade.

On one of the days, we went to the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC), a nonprofit theme park that teaches visitors about the different Polynesian cultures. In different “villages,” you learn about Samoan, Tongan, Fijian, Hawaiian, Aotearoan, Marquesan, and Tahitian cultures. Visitors get a chance to throw spears, make coconut bread, start fires with sticks, make hats out of palm fronds, learn different dances, and gain basic understanding of cultural norms, such as which door one must use when entering a Fijian temple.

It was pricey to spend the day there, but well worth it. And it made me think, “Dude, we should totally have a nonprofit-themed theme park!” Think about it, we have all sorts of theme parks. Some, like the PCC, are actually educational. While others–Ghost Town in the Sky, Dollywood, Holiday World–are wacky or just insane. If people can make an entire theme park out of Legos or vampires or Smurfs, I don’t see why we can’t have a park that exposes visitors to all the fun that is nonprofit work. We need to start thinking of ways to get kids to want to grow up to be nonprofit warriors.

Nonprofit Land

Bring your family and spend an unforgettable day in Nonprofit Land. Fun and educational, it will be an experience you and your little ones will cherish forever!

Walk through the different Nonprofit villages and learn different skills and interact with nonprofit professionals.

In Development Village, you will be greeted by development staff, who will teach you the basics of fundraisings. Kids will each leave with a draft of an LOI.

In Strategic Planning Village, everyone will learn to write vision and mission statements and figure out how to do 3 or 5 year plans as well as 1-year workplans.

In the Operations Village, you put on nonprofit staff uniforms (jeans and a button-down shirt), and take part in different types of meetings and test your skills in solving problems. Oh no, we have cashflow issues, what should we do?!

In the Board Village, you learn Robert’s Rules and all the kids can try their hands at revising bylaws. Don’t forget to bring your strategic plans!

There are also Evaluation Village; Communications Village, where you learn to build a website with a budget of 14 dollars; Volunteer Management Village, which is run by the talented Operations Village staff; and take a tour of the HR Hut, where kids can learn about the 403b savings plan.

Nonprofit Land features lots of fun rides. For example, the Funding Rollercoaster, which goes up and down and up and down and sometimes completely stops and everyone is forced to get off. Between rides, test your skills at fun and challenging games, like Whack a’Email.

In the evening, come to our dining hall for a dinner buffet of hummus, baby carrots, ramen, and kale salads before attending a spectacular live performance featuring a cast of nonprofit professionals attending a planning retreat and wordsmithing a tagline. At the performance, you will learn the unique nonprofit skill called “Raising the Paddle.”

All this and more. Come, bring your family, and create memories that will last a lifetime.