Hi everyone. I’m back after taking the month of July off from writing! During these past four weeks I took the kids on trips, attended a wedding (outdoor) for the first time in years, read some books in a hammock, removed the (probably sentient by now) leftovers from my fridge, and watched “The Bear” and “The Old Man,” which made me very glad I’m in nonprofit, a field that can be very intense but usually not deadly intense like international espionage, or, worse, the restaurant business.
I’ve missed you all and hope you’ve been finding time to relax and recharge as well. Apologies in advance for the roughness of this post. My brain is still on vacation mode, so it may take a few weeks before I am at 100%.
Hi everyone. A couple of things before we get started on this week’s topic. First, if you’re planning to host some sort of PEEP (Party to Enhance Equity in Philanthropy), please fill out this form by June 10th so I can help spread the word. Second, I’ll be taking the annual summer break from this blog during all of July. And last, I mentioned in January that I’ll be removing ads from this website. Wellll….after looking at my finances, I realize that this is losing me a lot of money. I hate backtracking, but I need money to buy hummus and dark chocolate. So, the random google ads are still gone, but the display ads (the ads you see on the side of this website and not embedded into articles), are coming back starting August, after the break. Thank you for understanding. And thank you, Patreon supporters, for keeping this blog open to everyone and with fewer ads.
Over the past several years, we’ve been hearing the term “culture of philanthropy” a lot. According to the 2013 report Underdeveloped, by Haas Jr. Fund and CompassPoint, culture of philanthropy incorporates these key elements:
“Most people in the organization (across positions) act as ambassadors and engage in relationship-building. Everyone promotes philanthropy and can articulate a case for giving. Fund development is viewed and valued as a mission-aligned program of the organization. Organizational systems are established to support donors. The executive director is committed and personally involved in fundraising.”
Hi everyone. We are rapidly approaching the summer, which means it’s time for the annual Party to Enhance Equity in Philanthropy (PEEP), a series of events across the sector where funders and nonprofit folks get together, virtually or in-person (ideally outdoors), to break down the weird power dynamics we have, and just learn to see one another as human beings. It should be fun and informal, and usually taking place on the week of Summer Solstice (June 21st this year). If you are planning to host an event, please fill out this form by June 10th so I can help spread the word.
Hi everyone, this post will likely generate some vigorous discussions, but before we launch into it, I have an exciting announcement. Community-Centric Fundraising (CCF) is seeking to form a Global Council to lead the movement. I and other founding council members will step aside and play a supporting role, because it’s important for the movement to have leadership that is diverse in geography and lived experience. Details and application here. Don’t worry, the founding council members are not going anywhere; we will each get a cloak to mark us as elders, and we’ll be around, providing moral support and, when appropriate, snacks.
As today is Valentine’s Day, a lot of us will be pondering the age-old question famously asked by philosopher Haddaway: “What is love?” to which he added as a corollary, “Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more.”
I bring this up because we have a concept in our sector called “#DonorLove.” Going down the hashtag rabbit hole, I encountered many articles about showing donors “love.” Treat them like literal heroes. Cater to their emotional needs. Have an “attitude of gratitude.” Write thank-you notes within 48 hours, and not within weeks as if your donors were common peasants. And stop talking about your organization’s accomplishments, but about what your donors accomplished through your organization, for remember, you and your org are vessels whose only point for existence is carry your donors’ hopes and wishes and well-informed strategies for a better world.
Every year at about this time, as people become more inclined to donate to charity for the holidays, memes start floating around regarding nonprofit overhead rates. “Don’t give to these orgs! Only 4 cents of every dollar you donate go to helping people! The other 96 cents go to mansions and truffles for their well-paid executives!” Which is quite ridiculous; most nonprofit executives only have at most two mansions, and consume no more than 100 grams of Périgord black truffles each week. Sadly, the public is pretty clueless regarding our work and are quick to latch on to nonsense regarding overhead. I wrote about it here in How to deal with uninformed nonprofit-watchdogs around the holidays.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest drivers of the narrative around overhead being no-good-very-bad are nonprofits themselves. Specifically, large international organizations with significant brand recognition. They usually do vital, life-saving and life-changing work, so I am not here to question their programs and services. However, in their quest to raise funds, they continue to use archaic messaging around overhead that are toxic for the entire sector. Here are a few examples: