Hi everyone, this post may be more personal than what I am used to sharing on this blog. Yesterday, my little sister Linda texted me “please don’t freak out cuz I’m fine and home now.” She had tested positive for COVID two days before, was recovering, and then suddenly had to be taken to the ER because of pneumonia, high fever, and high blood pressure. She knew I was going to freak out so didn’t tell me she was in the ER. (I got her permission to share all this).
This year has been one unending series of awfulness. I have been trying to put on a brave face, but it has been rough. I’ve been trying to support another family member who has been dealing with alcohol addiction, and others who have depression or other mental health challenges or who are experiencing severe isolation and loneliness.
A few years ago, I led a Vietnamese-community-focused nonprofit as a youthful executive director filled with equal parts optimism and adult acne. I remember though one time at a board meeting trying to get board members to donate. “Please,” I said, “just give something. Anything! Even $5! I just need us to be able to tell funders that we have 100% board giving!” The elders stared back blankly at me. I was desperate. “OK,” I said, “how about I give you each $10, then you donate $5 back, and you make a profit of $5!” I was joking, but also kind of not.
The idea of “100% board giving” is one of those concepts that somehow have become entrenched in our sector, an unwritten truth that we don’t question. To this day, I still see funders asking about it on grant applications. Fundraisers, meanwhile, whisper warnings to one another: “There was one organization that only achieved 50% board giving. Their donations eventually all dried up. If you walk by the office, you can hear faint ghostly echoes of weeping from the development team.”
Happy Monday, everyone! The happiest I can recall in a while! I was able to sleep soundly for the first time in a long time, and my stress acne magically cleared up and has been replaced by hope acne. (Look, even my sense of humor is returning!) Before I forget, Crystal Hayling, ED of the Libra Foundation, and I will be having an informal conversation this week, November 10th at 1pm PT, to debrief philanthropy and anything else that we want to discuss. We didn’t plan any talking points, so half of the conversation may just be about our favorite shows, who knows, join us.
I know that most of us are taking some time to celebrate this political and moral victory. Some of us are still in disbelief, and like a large multi-year pledged donation that hasn’t been paid, we can’t really believe that this is real until our new president and vice president are sworn in on inauguration day. I too am a jumble of emotions: hope, catharsis, joy, but also hypervigilance and fear at the backlash that may be coming.
Hi everyone, before we get into today’s post, I’ll be having a conversation with the amazing Crystal Hayling, executive director of the Libra Foundation, next week November 10th at 1pm Pacific. We’re calling it “2020 Philanthropy Debrief AF” and will be discussing the good, bad, and ugly of foundations’ response to the pandemic, protests, elections, etc., as well as what we hope to see in 2021. It’s FREE and it’ll be fun and informal. Register here. [Updated from earlier link]
The elections culminate this week, and if you’re in the US and care about democracy, chances are you are as anxious as I am. I’ve been unable to sleep. I’ve been eating way too much chocolate while doomscrolling on Twitter. I’ve been picking at my face! There is just so much at stake. If you’re feeling the same way, you’re not alone. So here are a few tips to endure the next few days, combined with pictures of baby animals. This is not to make light of what’s in front of us. I just can’t focus enough to write something more hard-hitting, and I’m not sure anyone wants a serious post.
Hi everyone, before we get to today’s less-serious post, please have your organization sign this letter urging Congress to enact legislation requiring foundations and Donor-Advised Funds to increase the amount of they are giving out to nonprofits, from a minimum of 5% of their endowments to 10%. This would free up $200 billion USD over the next three years, money that is desperately needed as our communities face this pandemic.
Halloween is this coming Saturday, which means it is time for Scary Nonprofit Stories. Here are several terrifying stories set in our sector. Make sure you are not reading them at night. If you are in the mood to share your own stories, use #NonprofitScaryStories on Twitter. And of course, if you’re looking for nonprofit-themed costumes for that virtual party, check out #NonprofitHalloweenCostumes.