25 proverbs, rewritten for nonprofit and philanthropy

[Image description: An adorable baby horse, light brown with a streak of white on the face. This foal is outside, with a field of grass in the blurry background. Look at their fluffy mane. Aw, now I want a pony. Image by Blaer of Pixabay.com]

Hi everyone, quick announcement: If you are interested in forming a community-centric fundraising local affinity group in your area, please register to join me and some other folks this Thursday, 8/20 at 12pm PT. Meanwhile, check out some new content on the CCF Hub, including “Reparations: How we white relatives must try to pay back the unpayable debt” by Hilary Giovale, “Nonprofit Industrial Complex 101: a primer on how it upholds inequity and flattens resistance” by Sidra Morgan-Montoya, “Why I decided to give up complicity in order to be an anti-racist volunteer manager” by Laura Pilati, and more.

We’ve had a string of serious posts here on Nonprofit AF. This week we’ll mix it up a bit. Proverbs! As a wise man once said: “Proverbs are the roux that binds the gravy of existence.” Or something. I totally made that up. Anyway, here are a bunch of famous proverbs that have been re-written to be more applicable to our sector. Feel free to add your own in the comment section, and on twitter using #NonprofitProverbs.

  1. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, provide multi-year general operating dollars, invest in BIPOC leaders, and cut out all the BS in your grant applications.
  2. Once bitten, twice unlikely to join your DEI committee.
  3. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a corny icebreaker.
  4. A bunch of meetings a day keeps the progress away.
  5. It is better to light a candle and THEN curse the foundations that refuse to fund electricity.
  6. A spoon does not know the taste of soup, nor a corporate leader who has only had board experience automatically know how to be an effective ED/CEO of a nonprofit or foundation.
  7. The reputation of a thousand years may be determined by the conduct of a single Zoom meeting.
  8. Actions speak louder than white papers.
  9. One man’s junk is another man’s silent auction items.
  10. Measure twice, cut once, unless you are most nonprofits and foundations, then measure 100 times and forget where you put the scissors.
  11. A funder in need is a friend indeed.
  12. Misery loves tedious grant applications.
  13. Too many wordsmiths spoil the mission statement.
  14. You can lead a horse to a strategic planning meeting, but don’t be surprised if the horse says nay to everything.
  15. The road to hell is paved with book clubs.
  16. It takes a whole village to raise some money.
  17. A rolling stone will likely be among the useless items donated to your nonprofit.
  18. The squeaky wheel gets offered a severance package and an NDA.
  19. Rome wasn’t built on one-year grants.
  20. A fool and his money are often asked to join nonprofit boards.
  21. Do unto your interns what you would like your interns to do unto you when they are your boss in the future.
  22. Multi-year general operating funds are the best medicine.
  23. Where there is smoke, there’s probably a group of employees talking about how annoying the ED is.
  24. People who live in glass houses should pay more taxes. Those houses look expensive as hell.
  25. Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and that doesn’t mean he has the supplies, or that the pond is accessible or hasn’t been depleted or made toxic by commercial fishing. Also, did he ask you to teach him? I didn’t think so, Kevin.

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And continue to support Black Lives Matter