Crappy Funding Practices (CFP) has been building momentum. Join in the fun on LinkedIn! This is the movement where we call out foundations publicly and by name who engage in practices that waste nonprofits’ time and energy when there are so many societal issues to tackle. Making a grantee write a quarterly report for a $2500 grant? We’re calling you out. Telling grant applicants they can’t spend more than 10% on overhead? We’re calling you out. Making grant applicants use your budget format, which is in Word? We’re calling you out.
Declaring a grant application deadline but then saying you’re only going to review the first 100 submissions? We’re calling you out and likely also bestowing upon you a Ghost Orchid Award for Rare but Super Crappy Funding Practices, which will come with press releases and probably an award ceremony where your team will be invited to dress up in evening formal wear and explain how you came up with such a clueless and heinous decision.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on how no funder deserves their own unique snowflake financial or outcomes report from grantees, and that they should just accept nonprofits’ annual report and comprehensive financial statements. A colleague pointed out that these burdensome and nonsensical requirements are a result of many funders having a “Main Character Syndrome” (MCS).
MCS, according to my quick consultation with fellow cool young people, is basically where someone thinks they are the main character in the universe, and that everyone else is just a support character in their fascinating and enthralling story. And they act like it. This phenomenon helps to explain many things that happen in our sector, such as the egotistical executive director who needs to take credit for everything. Or the board member/donor who demands to be treated like royalty and who gets offended at the slightest injury to their image or sensibilities.
Hi everyone, if you’re free this Thursday evening and are in the Seattle area, please drop by MOHAI for a book reading I’ll be doing. It’s free with registration, and there will be hummus and door prizes (or possibly hummus AS door prizes, we’re still deciding). REGISTER HERE. This is the only book reading I’m doing in the foreseeable future, because “Castlevania: Nocturne” on Netflix is not going to rewatch itself.
Last week, I created a short video on “Nonprofit Math,” following a trend on social media all the kids have been raging about, regarding different types of math: boy math, girl math, corporate math, etc. The 50-second clip I made went kind of viral, watched nearly a million times. Sure, I look super sexy there, with only one eye involuntarily twitching from stress, and the grantwriting-induced wrinkles smoothed out by hotel room lighting. But I think the topic hit a nerve with folks in the sector because we’re all exhausted by the various shenanigans we’ve been forced to endure.
Hi everyone. It is October, which means my favorite holiday is coming up: Halloween, a time when children can dress up in costume and go door-to-door for free food, while adults dress up as sexy versions of healthcare workers and politicians.
And of course, it’s also a time to give ourselves a good scare. In our sector, there’s plenty of terrifying things: Restricted funding, 360 evaluations, lack of retirement savings, and creepy colleagues who tip-toe behind you in darkened hallways and whisper, “Would you consider joining the gala planning committee?” I’ll tell you a story about one of the scariest things that happen though. Make sure all the lights are on and you’re not by yourself:
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.