Scary nonprofit ghost stories: The Honey Badger’s Paw


halloween-1702531_1280Halloween is coming up, arguably one of the best holidays ever. There is so much that I love about Halloween. The decorations. The smell of apple cider and pumpkin spices. The license to stuff our faces with candy. The fake body parts carved out of homemade seitan, dyed to look bloody, which we then go around eating all night as part of our zombie costume. (What, like you’ve never eaten a bloody fake hand stump that you made out of wheat gluten, cornstarch, and red dye).

However, Halloween has gotten less scary and more…sexy. So I say we bring back the tradition of telling scary stories. Gather your coworkers into your conference room, turn out the light, turn on a candle app, and prepare to be chilled by the tale of the “The Honey Badger’s Paw”:

The Honey Badger’s Paw

A packaged arrived to a local nonprofit. The staff opened it and inside was what appeared to be a small, dried up paw from some sort of animal. “What the F is this?” the ED asked, to which the Development Director replied, “Oh, someone called and said she wanted to give us this thing for our auction. She said she got it at a bazaar in far-away country. It’s a magic paw from a honey badger. Supposedly it grants three wishes or something.” At that moment, a chill blew through the room. 

“Sigh,” said the Development Director from her squeaky non-ergonomic chair, “our auction is four weeks away and we barely have 10% of registrations. Table captains are not responding to my emails and phone calls. I think they’re trying to avoid me.”

“Hey, wait a minute,” said the ED, “why don’t we use this paw? I mean, it couldn’t hurt, right?” He picked up the paw. It was shriveled, mummified, a grotesque and sad little thing in his hand, much like the organization’s balance sheet. “I wish for our 30 table captains to fill all their tables by the end of this week.”

The entire staff burst into laughter, which echoed down the empty hallway, and everyone got back to work.

Soon, however, the registrations started coming in. The names kept appearing. Names that they had never heard of. “Mysterious donors, maybe?” they were hoping. By the end of the week, the event was completely sold out. The event planning team was ecstatic. 

The evening of the event came, and the staff were excited to meet these new donors. Everything was perfectly arranged. Vases had been bought from IKEA for $2 each. LED tea light candles on every table. Soon the guests started arriving. The staff noticed something different about the arrivals. They all wore skinny jeans. They had asymmetrical hair. They all rode to the auction on fixed-gear bikes! They…they were all wearing scarves…

“Oh God,” whispered the ED, standing next to the bar, “The room is full…of hipsters…”

At that moment, a guest wearing a vintage Ghostbusters T-shirt walked up to the bartender. “Uh…I got this beer, but I’m not sure it’s gluten-free?”

“Quick,” said the ED, “where is that paw? Wish for something else! You know hipsters don’t donate much!”

The Development Director grabbed the paw from the silent auction table. “I wish everyone in this room will be inspired to give tonight.” She thought she felt the paw twitch in her hand. The dinner proceeded—with a few complaints about the lack of sriracha sauce—and finally it was time for the ask. The hipsters watched the video, riveted. They listened attentively to a testimony by a client. Some were moved, their tears flowing down past the rim of their hipster glasses. They were all inspired to donate that night. But not money.

“I’m so inspired, I’m going to form a nonprofit and do stuff,” said one, and the others thought it was a great idea. They were ALL going to form nonprofits. “I think we should collect donated scarves and send them to kids in Africa,” said another.

“What have we done?” whispered the ED in horror. He looked at the paw the Development Director was holding. Taking it in his hand, he silently concentrated. Suddenly, the hipsters all started calming down and talking about obscure bands no one has ever heard of. The evening ended, and they all dispersed into the cold, dark night, using their iPhones to light the paths to their bikes.

“What did you wish for?” asked the Development Director.

“Nothing,” said the ED, “as soon as founding a nonprofit was trendy, I knew they wouldn’t want to be a part of it.”

They both breathed a sigh of relief.

“The event netted $1400 and some scarves,” said the ED, “what are we going to tell the board?”

“I wish we had a few more board members,” said the ED wistfully, realizing too late that he was still holding the honey badger’s paw. 

At that moment, they heard a voice.

“Hey, I was told you guys need new board members. Will the hummus you serve at meetings be organic?”

The End.

And if that didn’t scare you. Next week’s tale, “The Wailing Founding Board Member,” may just.


Make Mondays suck a little less. Get a notice each Monday morning when a new post arrives. Subscribe to NWB by scrolling to the top right of this page and enter in your email address. Also, join the NWB Facebook community for daily hilarity.

Donate, or give a grant, to Vu’s organization, Rainier Valley Corps, which has the mission of bringing more leaders of color into the nonprofit sector and getting diverse communities to work together to address systemic issues.

Also, join Nonprofit Happy Hour, a peer support group on Facebook, and if you are an ED/CEO, join ED Happy Hour. These are great forums for when you have a problem and want to get advice from colleagues, or you just want to share pictures of unicorns. Check them out.

Oh, and support the maintenance of this website by buying NWB t-shirts and mugs and other stuff.