Imagine if we talked to other professionals the way people talk to nonprofit folks


[Image description: An irritated-looking lemur, white with grayish fur, with brown eyes, starting directly at the camera, surrounded by some leaves. This lemur is me when someone who has no nonprofit experience gives me advice on running a nonprofit. Image by Michelle Phillips on Unsplash.]

Happy Monday, everyone. Before we get into today’s post, a quick announcement: My organization is now accepting applications for our first-ever Green Pathways Fellowship program, which we are launching in collaboration with our awesome partner Got Green. This cool new program will diversify the environmental movement by finding awesome leaders of color and supporting them as they work full-time at environmental organizations. Check it out!

Nonprofit work is great, but we do deal with all sorts of headaches. But many of our friends and families and even board members may have never worked at a nonprofit before, which means it’s hard sometimes for them to understand what we go through. Here is what it might be like for other professionals if they got the nonprofit treatment.

Apologies to Shannon Reed for forgetting to credit her hilarious article in McSweeneys (“If People Talk to Other Professionals the Way They Talk to Teachers”) in the earlier version of this post.

  1. “Before I buy this cheese-and-potato piroshky, what is your plan to sustain your business without relying so much on customers like me?”
  2. “Thank you for this taxi ride. I am a reimbursement-based customer. Please send in these forms and you will be paid in 4 to 6 months.”
  3. “Good morning, I am your new Chief Surgeon. No I am not a doctor, but I did run a successful tech company for 32 years.”
  4. “I heard that you are trying to land a shuttle on Mars. I’d like to invest $500. I will need quarterly reports.”
  5. “What do you mean you won’t accept my donation of 8 pallets of 1967-era math textbooks? What kind of accounting firm is this?!”
  6. “Your shoes are really nice for a landscape architect! I guess maybe you don’t need me to pay for your design services, haw haw!”
  7. “Why are there so many cafes all over the city competing with one another? Can’t you all just merge into one giant cafe?”
  8. “I love this program. What do you call it, “seventh grade”? How do you plan to scale it?”
  9. “I don’t benefit at all when you vaccinate people against various diseases, so I have every right to scrutinize you and your work!” 
  10. “What you should do is open up the right pulmonary artery and connect it to the aortic semilunar valve. No, I’ve never done heart surgery, but I have served on the board of various hospitals for several years.”
  11. “Our family is not interested in paying for the salaries of the engineers and technicians who maintain and control traffic lights. We only want our taxes to pay for the traffic lights themselves. Since the city budget indicates a significant portion is going to salaries, we will not be paying our taxes this year.”
  12. “Has your legal firm heard of this thing we do in business called ‘accounting’?”
  13. “Do not go to a Beyoncé concert! 94 cents of every dollar just goes to paying for salaries for her and her team!”
  14. “Shelly, please pass the gravy. Also, when are you going to find a real job and knock it off with this ‘mechanical engineer’ nonsense?”
  15. “Why do you have an anesthesiologist? Can’t you just get your niece to do the anesthesia? I heard she’s pre-med.”
  16.  “Have you thought about opening a thrift store to supplement your architecture firm?”
  17. “Please explain the Higgs-Boson and its role in the Standard Model of particle physics in 250 characters or less.”
  18. “We only support disruptive, innovative ideas. What are innovative new firefighting techniques you are using to put out wildfires?”
  19. “So you only treat couples as part of your couples counseling practice? What about single people? What about babies? Why don’t you treat them too? What do you have against babies?!” 
  20. “You totally fixed that clogged pipe that no one else could fix! I need a report on what the $650 I am paying you is being spent on. Please make sure none of it is paying for your rent or utilities.”
  21. “I could just write you a check for the co-pay, but I’d like a more meaningful experience. Can I work the drill when you do the root canal?”

Add your own in the comment section, and on Twitter using the hashtag #NonprofitTreatment (For example: “So what’s your hose-to-water spending ratio?” If firefighters got the #NonprofitTreatment)

Now, if you need me, I’ll be writing a quarterly report for this $1000 grant we got that only allows us to buy binder clips.

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