Alarmists, disruptors, weasels, and 9 other annoying types of people in nonprofit


opossum-309264_960_720Hi everyone, life with a newborn has been going well. The baby has all these cute and amusing facial expressions, and he smells really nice, like general operating funds. In my sleep-deprived state, however, my memory is terrible, and I’ve been having more vivid and terrifying dreams. For instance, the other day I dreamed I was attacked by this aggressive possum who kept biting my pant legs and I kept trying to kick at it in futility. I woke up in cold sweat and remembered it was time to plan our annual gala.

So anyway, there’s no deep analysis in today’s post. Instead, I want to continue my belated birthday tradition of poorly edited ranting about people who get on my nerves. Last year, I ranted about board members who don’t give, people who suck at designing forms, the reply-all people, volunteers who only want to do stuff around the holidays, people who don’t respond to Doodle polls, the chronically late, gossipers, whiners, people who don’t follow through and are sucky team players, automatic naysayers, people who should work for for-profits, and those who don’t wash their damn dishes.

Thanks to the NWB Facebook Community, we can add to the list. Now, 95% of people in our sector are awesome. But we can all certainly improve. Check these out below, and if you’re guilty of any of them, stop it right now:

12 More Types of People who Get on Everyone’s Nerves in Nonprofit

  1. The Opinion Zombie: This is what I’m calling people who keep trying to resurrect an opinion or failed motion, despite the majority having voted against their ideas. Look, we discussed things and then voted, OK? You had your chance to voice your opinion. You lost. Now that the decision is made, we need to move on, all right?! We are using Arial font for our spring mailing campaign letter, and that’s final!
  2. People who don’t update their calendars: A well-functioning team needs an effective and up-to-date calendar system where everyone can see everyone else’s availability. Your calendar is only partially about you. Your coworkers rely on your calendar to schedule group meetings. If you don’t update your calendar, people may schedule a meeting, and then you’re like, “um, that time doesn’t work for me, I just forgot to update my calendar, blah blah blah, I’m a doo-doo head.” You don’t actually say that last part, but you might as well.
  3. People who mysteriously disappear for short periods of time: Says a colleague, these people “say they will be at the meeting, then just fail to show. At all. And do not bother to answer texts, calls, etc. [leaving others] wondering if they are going to show. And do not even apologize later.” It’s like the Rapture happened, and they were taken, but only during meetings where quorum is absolutely needed.
  4. Manipulating weasels who get people to do their jobs: Either through feigned incompetence, or actual incompetence, they weasel their way out of doing work. It’s worse when it’s their own work they weasel out of, leaving others who already have their work to do, to now take on additional responsibilities because it is too much time and energy to sit down with this weasel. Hey weasel, do your job!
  5. People who don’t read stuff in advance and then chime in: From board members who don’t read meeting packets that are lovingly and painstakingly assembled, to staff who didn’t review last year’s strategic plan before the retreat, not being prepared is annoying and sets everyone back. And it’s even worse if they start chiming in: “OK, so I didn’t read the development plan, but I propose we open a social enterprise. I’m thinking we sell notecards with our after-school program kids’ design, but get this, they’re edible!”
  6. People who use anecdotes as evidence in arguments: “How dare you say nonprofit staff need to be paid more. I mean, my cousin works for a nonprofit, and she makes $180,000 and gets a bonus puppy every year, so therefore you are wrong!” Oh yeah? Well, my cousin survived a car crash even though he didn’t wear a seat belt, so therefore seat belts are obviously not needed!* (*NWB does not endorse the non-usage of seat belts. This sentence was made to demonstrate the invalidity of using anecdotes to prove a point. Please wear your seat belts at all time, even when you’re not in a car).
  7. People who do not know how to format documents to conserve paper: Please, please, please do a print preview before you print. Check the last page. Is there like a single sentence on the last page? If you print this document without fixing it, there will be a page with just a single sentence on it. Go back and reduce the font size by .25, or change the margins by an eighth of an inch, or whatever. For the love of hummus, don’t print out a page with just a single line of text on it! And if you have a document in Excel, make sure the orientation and the column widths make sense. If I see another printed document with a single line of text, or a single column, on the last page, I will make you eat your document.
  8. People who think nonprofits are dumpsters for their crap: An entire post will (probably) be written about this. I’ve heard horrors stories of nonprofits getting used underwear, broken furniture, adult books, a teddy bear with a single eye that bores into the depths of your soul, etc. People mean well, but come on, we’re not dumpsters, no matter what our chairs look like, and the people we serve deserve better.
  9. People who “disrupt.” Holy hummus, enough with the disruption already! I was in the Bay Area a few weeks ago, and I swear, I heard some variation of “disrupt” at least twelve times within three days: “We need creative disruption,” “let’s disrupt our thinking process a little,” “so what you’re saying is that we need disruptive marketing strategies.” Can we just figure out the crap that’s working and keep them going? You know, like general operating funds and investing in people to do stuff? What we need is meta-disruption. It is time for us to disrupt disruption itself!
  10. Board members who don’t focus on the big picture and instead micromanage or interfere: Please stop spending hours debating minor things like what font our mailings should be. Your time and brilliance is needed focusing on major policy and strategy decisions, such as whether we should invest in a line of edible note cards as earned-income revenues. 
  11. The hyperventilating alarmists: Every little thing sets them off. The stress and logistics of planning an annual gala will probably give them a heart attack. This may not be the biggest problem, except you now have to spend a lot of time reassuring them that everything is going to be OK.
  12. The irritating optimist: Damn it, everything is not always going to be OK, all right?! Stop saying it’s all going to be OK! Our gala is coming, and we haven’t notebookgotten a single sponsor! We’re doomed, doomed! You aren’t having nightmares about possums, so you don’t get to tell me things are going to be OK!
  13. (Bonus rant) People who say I look tired: Get out of my face before I eat your face.

And that concludes the annual poorly-edited birthday ranting. Before you go, check out NWB’s new shop, where you can get awesome t-shirts, hoodies, notebooks, etc.

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