Author Archives: Vu

10 lessons for nonprofits I learned from getting a vasectomy

[Image description: A golden pair of scissors, lying on the ground, holding a beige twine of some sort. Wow, this image is actually relevant to the topic at hand, while being both suggestive and yet not graphic. But I am sure I will stay up wondering if I should have used a picture of a baby animal. Pixabay.com]

Hi everyone. Last week, I got a vasectomy. Normally I would not talk about highly personal stuff like this, but there are lots of guys who are still squeamish about this simple and relatively painless procedure, so I am trying to help normalize it by being public about it. We dudes should do our part in family planning, and getting a vasectomy is a great option, as it is extremely effective while less intrusive and with fewer complications than what women have to go through. As this is a nonprofit blog, however, I am going to extrapolate my experience into lessons for all of us in the sector. So here are the lessons:

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Are you an overheadhole? Why we need to just stop talking about overhead

[Image description: A black rottweiler puppy, looking slightly bashful. Maybe it’s because they’ve been bragging about their nonprofit’s overhead ratio on their website. Pixabay.com]

One of the points Unicorns Unite (the book that I co-authored with Jessamyn Shams-Lau and Jane Leu; you can order it here) is “Don’t be an overheadhole.” An #Overheadhole is a person, nonprofit, or foundation who is obsessed with low overhead. They reinforce the idea that any organization that has “high” overhead is terrible and ineffective, with immoral staff who hoard money for themselves and who have bad personal hygiene and never call their mothers. Oh yeah, overheadholes?! Take a look in the mirror! YOU’RE the ones who never floss! Is that a piece of spinach stuck in your teeth, or just your blatant ignorance?!

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Content creators, here’s an Equity Screen to use as you work on your next blog post, book, podcast, or video

[Image description: Two otters, staring off into the distance. They look kind of solemn. But they’re soooooo cute. In fact, I would say they’re…otterly adorable! (Shut up, I’m allowed to make one bad pun per blog post). These otters have nothing to do with this post; it’s just been a while since we had pictures of cute animals for no reason. Pixabay.com]

A while ago, someone emailed me to ask for help getting word out on a blog post they wrote on a report about workplace satisfaction or something. I asked, “Did your report disaggregate data on employees of color?” They said no, sounding apologetic. This happens all the time, where diversity and inclusion are an afterthought, something that is a nice-to-have, but not an essential element.

I understand there are times when it makes sense to talk about issues in the general sense. But all of us need to develop and sharpen the lens we use to look at the world and the issues we are addressing. The problems we are tackling are all affected by multiple forms of intersecting inequity, and we must train ourselves to see and analyze race, ethnicity, class, age, gender, disability, neuro-diversity, LGBTQIA identity, etc. Those of us who create content, especially, must take this seriously, as our blogs, articles, podcasts, tweets, videos, books, rock musical, etc., may reach thousands of people. And if we are not thoughtful and deliberate, then we may be unconsciously reinforcing certain things as the default, namely white heteronormative cis-male able-bodied neuro-typical norms.

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Why art and music matter in the fight for social justice

[Image description: A beautiful spiral made up of stained-glass windows, depicting various scenes, likely from the Bible, since this looks like a dome of a chapel of some sort. Pixabay.com didn’t identify it. Update: It’s the Chapel of Thanksgiving in Dallas, TX. Thanks Marijana Ababovic for identifying it]

Hi everyone, before we dive into today’s subject, my organization is growing and hiring three new positions. I’m highlighting here our Capacity Building Lead position. If you are a capacity building geek who also loves using an equity lens to support organizations led by and serving communities of color, this may be your dream job. Check it out. Must be able to tolerate rain, transformative work, and the Oxford Comma.

Last week, I gave a keynote at the conference held by the Association of California Symphony Orchestras (ACSO), whose staff and board are some of the nicest people ever. And extremely talented, with everyone seeming to play one or more instruments. There was beautiful, moving music everywhere. At one point, I stood in the corner, sipping on a margarita and listening to a duo of mandolin and fiddle players whose virtuoso performances for a few minutes lifted me away from thoughts of the gradual apocalypse our country is going through.

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The ethical argument for foundations to increase their annual payout rate beyond 5%

[Image description: A lit candle in the darkness, being shielded by the wind by a hand. Image by Ai Nhan on Unsplash.com]

I know many of you are reeling from the domestic terrorism that happened over the weekend, committed by white supremacists, spurred on by the racist president of the United States, aided by coward Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who stopped two gun control bills passed by the House this year (HR 8 ad HR 112) from even being voted on in the Senate.

I wish I had words of comfort, maybe some inspirational quote by MLK Jr. or Gandhi about how Good Always Wins in the End, or something, but I don’t. I am just as sad and angry and heartbroken for all those lives lost as you are. My oldest child is about the same age now as the kids who were killed at Sandy Hook, and all I can do is send him off to his school each day hoping that some white supremacist won’t gun his class down. Same with the preschooler. I start having ridiculous thoughts about buying bulletproof backpacks for them, as if that would actually protect them.

This is where we are as a nation. The last few years have been hellish on all fronts, and things do not seem to be getting better, despite my best attempts at optimism. We nonprofits have been dealing with the increased challenges our communities, especially marginalized communities, have been facing.

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