10 terrifying tales set in nonprofit and philanthropy guaranteed to give you shivers

[Image description: Three jack-o-lantern pumpkins with menacing faces, one directly facing the camera. Image by Vladvictoria on Pixabay.]

Happy Halloween everyone! Below are the 10 winners of the Nonprofit AF Scary Story Contest 2022. Thank you to the dozens of colleagues who sent in entries. I read them all under a blanket with a flashlight, shivering with mounting fear and dread as if I was creating a budget using a funder’s budget format set in Word. It was a very difficult task to choose the 10 winners. We have some talented writers (and at least one amazing actor, as you’ll see in a video below) in our sector. These stories won based on creativity, scariness, and originality. Understandably, many colleagues asked to remain anonymous. I did very little editing, except to add Oxford Commas. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

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We must prioritize nonprofit leaders’ rest and healing, and here are some cool funders doing that

[Image description: An empty rowboat on calm water. The water reflects the beautiful warm colors of a sunrise or sunset. In the distance there is a small house standing on stilts. Image by Quang Le on Pixabay]

Hi everyone, it’s almost Halloween, and the NonprofitAF Scary Story Contest closes this Thursday! Write (or record) and submit a story of up to 250 words, by 11:59pm on 10/27. 10 winners will have their stories published here next week. If you need inspiration, here are some stories; beware, they are very scary (one involves someone who REMOVES Oxford Commas!)

I know I criticize our sector a lot (and more is coming!). But there are amazing things going on, and I am really grateful for the organizations and leaders who are doing awesome stuff. Recently in my state, the Washington Women’s Foundation released a grant to provide $100,000 each to 10 Black women working in nonprofit in Washington State, with the expressed purpose of funding their rest and renewal. This is mind-blowing! The approach is thoughtful, recognizing the burdens Black women have carried in our sector and trusting Black women to know what’s best for themselves.

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Advice for white allies going through existential crises while doing DEI work

[Image description: A single barren tree, standing on a green hill, overlooking a sunrise or sunset. Image by jplenio on Pixabay]

Hi everyone, if you haven’t registered for the free webinar “Where Has All the Money Gone?” on October 19th at 1pm Pacific, please do so; it’s an important discussion. Also, on October 28th at 10:30am, I am giving a virtual keynote “A Better Normal: Reimagining Nonprofit and Philanthropy.” It’s FREE, thanks to ONEplace at Kalamazoo Public Library, but there is a cap on the number of attendees so please sign-up right away. Both events will have captions.

🎃 👻 🎃 Meanwhile, it’s been a long time since we’ve had a contest, so I’m announcing the Nonprofit Scary Story Contest! Write (or record) and submit a story of up to 250 words, by 10/27. 10 winners will have their stories published here on Halloween, as well as receive a package of assorted NonprofitAF swag. If you need inspiration, here are some terrifying stories. 🎃 👻 🎃

A while ago, a mid-age white male colleague emailed me asking to meet over lunch, and I said yes, because I used to never turn down free vegan food (and I still don’t!). He asked me to connect him with young professionals that he could mentor. “I’ve been learning about DEI. I just want to be helpful, especially to younger leaders of color. I’ll do it for free.” I sat with him, trying to find a way to gently let him know that few, if any, leaders of color would take up his offer to mentor them. Not that white colleagues can’t ever mentor people of color (some of my mentors are white), but the young leaders I knew would not go for it.

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Keeping the fire lit: Reflections from my trip to Aotearoa New Zealand

[Image description: Driftwood on a beach in Aotearoa New Zealand. Foam block letters attached to the wood spell out “DO GOOD.” In the background is the ocean and a lot of clouds. I took this picture with my phone.]

Hi everyone, this post may be rambly not not very deep due to my travel-induced exhaustion, so apologies in advance. But first, October 10th of this week is Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the US, and we should all be reminded that less than half a cent of every dollar in philanthropy goes to Indigenous-led organizations. So to all those funders out there who are releasing statements about this day, please give more money to Indigenous communities. Everyone else, donate to Indigenous-led orgs and mutual assistance efforts and read this article by an Indigenous colleague for more actions you can take.

I just came back from a whirlwind speaking trip to Pueblo Colorado, Halifax Canada, Aotearoa New Zealand, and Monterey California. It’s been three weeks on the road and I finally just got home. It’s the longest I’ve been away from my kids, and I had some irrational fear that they wouldn’t recognize me, and they’d be weirdly formal when I got back and be all like, “Hello, Father. Would you care for some crumpets?” I don’t know why they’re British in this scenario. Luckily that did not happen; they just hugged me and immediately asked for presents.   

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Let’s gear up for the midterm elections and save democracy!

[Image description: A crowd of people holding various signs, including “We demand voting rights now!” Caption from Unseen Histories on Unsplash: “Marchers with signs at the March on Washington, 1963. Original black and white negative by Marion S. Trikosko. Taken August 28th, 1963, Washington D.C, United States (@libraryofcongress). Colorized by Jordan J. Lloyd. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA https://www.loc.gov/item/2013648849/”]

Hi everyone, I am in Aotearoa (New Zealand), and embarrassingly forgot to bring an adapter for my laptop charger, and the hotel doesn’t have one, so I have about 1.5 hours of power and this blog post will likely be short and full of typos. I’ve been learning so much from my experience here and will do a proper reflection for a future post.

Before we get into today’s topic, though, a couple of announcements. Please join me, Susannah Morgan, Ray Madoff, and Chuck Collins on October 19th at 1pm Pacific for a webinar on Donor-Advised Funds, how they’ve been used to hoard money, and what we need to do about it. It’s free, and will be captioned. Register here.

Also, please fill out Building Movement Project’s Race to Lead Survey 2022. It is a bit long, but this survey provides vital information about our sector, and the more of us fill it out, the more accurate and useful the data will be. Thank you in advance.

Aotearoa has been amazing. The people here are wonderful and kind, and it is spring here, so the flowers are blooming everywhere. It almost makes me forget (or want to forget) that back in the United States, we are getting ready for probably the most consequential mid-term elections of our lives.

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