An apology to everyone I harmed with my insensitive words regarding donors and philanthropy

[Image description: A light brown dog, lying on the floor, look remorseful, as if they too had said some offensive things on a webinar on systemic inequity. Image by Pexels on Pixabay]

To my esteemed colleagues,

On a webinar about Donor-Advised Funds that took place on October 19th, 2022, with Susannah Morgan, Ray Madoff, and Chuck Collins, I used words that were deeply offensive and hurtful. Words that included “the rich,” “white,” “hoarding,” “equity,” “SkyMall catalog,” and, most egregious of all, “hobby.” I am here to apologize, take accountability for my thoughtlessness and insensitivity, and humbly ask for your forgiveness.

During this unfortunate presentation, I said something to the effect of, “Philanthropy has often become a hobby for the rich, and it should not be.” I also said that I considered a “family legacy of philanthropy” to be “gross.” I am truly sorry that I uttered such unconscionable words and brought trauma to you, your donors, as well as to anyone near you who may have accidentally caught glimpse of these vile invectives.

Continue reading “An apology to everyone I harmed with my insensitive words regarding donors and philanthropy”

Greek Myths if They Were Set in the Nonprofit Sector

[Image description: A stone statue of Heracles against a blue sky. He is standing, clad with a cloth around his waste, one hand resting on the head of a lion. Image by FelixMittermeier on Pixabay]

Over the past several months, my kids have been obsessed with Greek Mythology, thanks to a podcast they listen to called “Greeking Out.” Greek myths are awesome, and there’s a lot they can teach us. Actually, many of the terms we use in this sector have Greek origins. For instance, the word “philanthropy” comes from the Greek “philos” which means “love of” and “anthropos” which means “burdensome and pointless grant applications.”

Anyway, while listening to Greeking Out with the kids, I couldn’t help but imagine these iconic stories being set in the nonprofit sector, so I wrote some of them out below. Enjoy. (And stop judging. Like your Saturday nights are so much more interesting.)

Continue reading “Greek Myths if They Were Set in the Nonprofit Sector”

The joy of fundraising: How fundraising can be truly, authentically joyful

[Image description: A long-haired person standing outdoors with arms outstretched looking at a yellow sky with a bright sun. Image by Fotorech on Pixabay]

When I was younger, one of my favorite things was the Skymall catalogue, which some of you may remember. It was a catalog that every airline had at every seat, and it was a glorious collection of some of the coolest stuff ever. I couldn’t afford the life-size gorilla lawn statue, or the fountain pen filled with tiny Swarovski crystals, or a lamp made out of pink salt that generated negative ions, or whatever. But it gave me a small measure of happiness to flip through the catalog and learn about the wacky products and what they did and how much they sold for.

Why am I bringing this up? I’ll get to that in a moment. A few weeks ago I was invited to give a keynote on the joy of fundraising. Now, I know at least a handful of people in the sector are rolling their eyes. That’s like inviting a teenager to deliver a lecture called “The Importance of Listening to Your Parents and Other Authority Figures.” Over the past few years, I have criticized many aspects of the way we do fundraising, and have been helping advance a movement to change it. So there may be this perception that I hate fundraising, fundraisers, and donors.

Continue reading “The joy of fundraising: How fundraising can be truly, authentically joyful”

Nonprofits: Get over learned helplessness and stop standing in your own way

[Image description: A pug shrouded in a beige blanket, just their face peeking out as if wearing a hooded cloak, looking tired or maybe just unimpressed. Image by Matthew Henry on Unsplash. I love this picture. It’s creative commons, so feel free to use it]

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%.  

Continue reading “Nonprofits: Get over learned helplessness and stop standing in your own way”

Examining the equity implications of culture of philanthropy

[Image description: An adorable brown puppy, asleep on a beige rug, their eyes closed, facing the camera. Image by Pexels on Pixabay]

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.”

Continue reading “Examining the equity implications of culture of philanthropy”