We need to restore romance in nonprofit and philanthropy! (No, not that kind of romance)

[Image Description: A old-school windmill, white building with black top and black blades, against a blue sky with wisps of white clouds. Image by Karabo_Spain on Pixabay]

Hi everyone, before we get into this week’s topic, on August 30th at 11am Pacific Time, there is a FREE webinar about one of critical things we all need to pay more attention to: Legislative reforms on Donor-Advised Funds! It’s hosted by CalNonprofits and will feature lots of brilliant minds on this issue: Jan Masaoka, Chuck Collins, Darryll K. Jones, Alex Reid, and Jon Pratt. Get more details and register here. There will be live captioning. Please be there if you can; we need to demonstrate there’s interest in the sector to reform DAFs.

You might read this week’s blog post’s title and are hoping for more advice on love and dating in the nonprofit sector, or part 2 of “Excerpts from Romance Novels Set in the Nonprofit Sector” (“His lips tasted of wine and social justice. They fumbled, unbuttoning each other’s shirts, both bought at Ross Dress for Less at 30% discount”).

Sorry, that’s not what this week’s post is about. Besides, I am a middle-age divorced man who has transcended romantic love and has fully embraced a shabby, gremlin-like existence of Netflix and Costco dried mango, so I am not sure I’m still qualified.

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Why I’m no longer donating to your no-good, very bad nonprofit

[Image description: Two human hands with gold rings and a gold watch, holding a dozen or so US dollar bills, most of them in denominations of $20, with at least one $100. Image by Brock Wegner on Unsplash]

I am a generous and humble man who wants to help sad poor people. This is why I give money to charity. If you help sad poor people, I might also give your organization money. But I have high standards, so I usually give initial donations to test organizations’ responses. Sure, $100 may not be much, though I believe one should be able to purchase at least 10 bananas with that amount. After making the initial donation, I wait in the shadows like a philanthropic hawk to see how charities treat me, which will determine whether I will give them more in the future.

I have been very disappointed to say the least. Some nonprofits don’t respond at all. Some wait excessively long periods of time before getting back to me. One time I had to wait a whole month like an animal for a handwritten thank-you note. Another organization received a huge grant from another donor, and I expected them to know immediately how that money would affect their operations, and more importantly, how it would affect me. My various attempts demanding answers were met with silence. In fact, across multiple charities I donate to, all seem to be avoiding communicating with me, which can only mean they are all no-good, very bad.

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You’re not lazy. Here’s what lazy looks like in our sector.

[Image description: A panda, resting their head on some tree branches. Image by shangshaistonemen on Pixabay]

Hi everyone, this will be the last blog post until August 8th, as I’ll be on my annual summer break. By the time you’re reading this, I am on my way to Vietnam to see the relatives. It will be three weeks of getting criticized for my career choice, divorced single status, and disheveled general appearance. It’s OK; relentless criticism is one of the love languages in Vietnamese culture.

I hope that you’re also taking time for yourself. Our sector sucks at this. Even during a pandemic, I see so many colleagues lamenting/bragging about how little vacation they’ve been taking, how they haven’t taken a break in literally years. Cut it out. There is no honor in burnout. You deserve to rest and to recharge and watch all 10 episodes of The Bear season 2 in one sitting, or whatever brings you joy.

However, it’s easy to say that. We’ve internalized some philosophies and messages that make rest feel shameful. One of these is the concept of “laziness.” Our self-worth and even identity are tied to doing stuff constantly, and when we think we’re not, we feel awful and useless. It’s a risotto of capitalism that we’re expected to stir perpetually while adding more and more heated broth of productivity.

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Hey journalists, we need to talk about your problematic portrayals of nonprofits

[Image description: A black and white cat in front of an iPad (or some type of pad), their mouth open in a shocked expression. This cat probably works in nonprofit and just read an irritating article casting nonprofits in bad light. Image by Kanashi on Pixabay]

Hi everyone, Juneteenth was this week, so a quick reminder to funders that Black-led organizations only get only a tiny fraction of all foundation dollars, so if you released a statement and then took the day off, give more money to Black-led organizations and Black leaders. Everyone else, support Black businesses, donate to Black orgs, and fight against racism, such as the fascists making the teaching of Black history illegal.

Today’s topic is the portrayal of nonprofits by the media, mainly by journalists covering nonprofits. A colleague wrote me, irritated by yet another article that portrays nonprofits in poor light. “There’s so much handwringing about how nonprofits are never held accountable, without any actual understanding of nonprofit experiences. Why don’t [nonprofits] just collect data, Vu? How hard can it be to collect data???”

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Unspoken words and unwavering actions: Lessons I’ve learned from my father

[Image description: The silhouette of an adult and a child, holding hands, walking toward the horizon, during sunrise or sunset. Image by Harika G on Unsplash]

Hi everyone, this coming Sunday is Father’s Day, so I thought I would write about my dad and what I’ve learned from him. The last few weeks, he has been staying with me. He had been living in Vietnam, and some health concerns sent him back to the US. Because of the pandemic, I hadn’t seen him in four years. Living with him the past three months, which I realized I hadn’t done in 20 years, has been fun, though I’ve had to make some adjustments. When he got back, the first thing he asked me was about a giant wooden beam he told me six years ago to guard. I had given it to someone else, I don’t even remember who. “You shouldn’t have done that. You’ll need that wooden beam someday.” I guess it doesn’t matter what cultures fathers are from, they will want to hoard pieces of wood and reprimand you for not doing so.

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