For decades, our sector has had this refrain: “Donors and funders deserve transparency. They have a right to know how nonprofits spend their donations and the outcomes they achieved.” Many of us agree with this, including me. Yes, nonprofits should be transparent. They need to report their revenues, expenses, program activities, and the results of their work. And most nonprofits do, as required by law. In the US nonprofits are legally required to file 990 tax forms each year. Most orgs release annual reports. Throughout the year they also let people know what they’ve been up to, using newsletters and other forms of communication.
The challenge is that for some reason the above level of transparency is not enough, and we’ve all convinced ourselves that not only do donors and funders deserve to know specifically how the dollars they contributed were spent and what outcomes could be personally attributed to them, but also that this somehow makes sense.
Hi everyone. Quick reminder: On August 30th at 11am Pacific Time, there is a FREE webinar on legislative reforms on Donor-Advised Funds. Get more details and register here. There will be live captioning.
Also, this week I’ll be speaking virtually at the Nonprofit Marketing Summit, which is free for everyone. My lecture, called “Burn It All Down: Achieving Radical Impact in Nonprofit and Philanthropy” will be on Thursday August 24 at 11am Pacific Time. Get details and register here. There will be auto-captions. And I might have a sexy, smokey voice from weeks of chronic coughing.
After doing this work a while, I realize there are a few words and phrases in our sector that absolute raise my hackles and cause me to go immediately into fight or fight mode (yes, I said “fight” twice). These words and phrases include “overhead,” “logic model,” “sustainability,” “donor love,” “strategic philanthropy,” “nonprofits should act more like for-profits,” and “can I give you some friendly feedback about your personal appearance on that virtual keynote?”
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.
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.
Hi everyone, before we get started, next week, May 23rd, at 10:30am Pacific Time, Edgar Villanueva (my brother from another mother and also another father) and I will once again be having a session of “Decolonizing AF.” It’s an informal Instagram Live conversation where we talk about nonprofit, philanthropy, and whatever else is on our minds, with much cussing. Captions auto-generated by Instagram. See you there.
Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve been using the hashtag #CrappyFundingPractices to publicly call out funders who were doing ridiculous and/or harmful things. Well, several years have passed, and it seems some funders are still doing crappy things. In fact, there are several innovative new shenanigans! Thank you to all the funders who are awesome. However, we still have many funders whose unreasonable and clueless requirements are jeopardizing nonprofits’ work and thus harming people.
Here is a list of #CrappyFundingPractices that have been called out under the hashtag. If you are at a foundation, please check that you’re not doing these things below, because your foundation may be called out by name:
Hey everyone, before we begin, here’s a cute and short video about foundations and their investments, which is a topic I’ll likely rant about later (after “Ask Vu: Love, Dating, Romance, and Relationship Advice for Nonprofit Professionals, Part 2,” which tens of people have been asking for. Here’s part 1).
I usually don’t write much about fundraising events. There’s been a general agreement that auctions, luncheons, golf tournaments, and their ilk are soul-crushingly awful and would make good deterrents for crimes: “You have been found guilty of armed robbery. I sentence you to be the event planner of four consecutive fundraising galas!”
As our colleague Paul Nazareth commented on Twitter: “The dislike I have for what was just weak fundraising strategy of charity galas; the garish glee of dress up, worshipping of wealth and culture of white supremacy, is evolving into disgust.”