Hey businesses: Act more like nonprofits if you want to succeed!

[Image description: A metal spoon balancing on a small black calculator resting on its side. A yellow potato is impaled on the handle end of a spoon, while the concave end holds a stack of about ten coins. The ground is covered in spreadsheets and additional coins. If y’all want to exercise your brain, try to write some image descriptions. Pixabay.com]

Businesses are all truly inspiring and contribute so much to our community. However, many businesses are failing to reach their full potential. During this pandemic, demands for business products and services have decreased significantly while demands for nonprofit services have skyrocketed! Is this just a coincidence? Unlikely. It would benefit for-profits to be as nimble, agile, and innovative as nonprofits. Although I have never run a business before, I do frequent many of them, and when I retire from a long career in nonprofit, I hope to do something relaxing and fulfilling, like open my own bank or grocery chain. Until then, here are some lessons I have learned that would help your business run more like a nonprofit and be successful:

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11 annoying jargon phrases we’re overusing, and new jargon to use instead

[A beautiful little dik-dik, a type of tiny antelope that are super cute and about a foot tall. This one has big doe-like eyes. Awww. This dik-dik has nothing to do with the content of this blog post. Pixabay.com]

Quick announcement before we start today’s post: In light of the fact that certain funding practices are not just annoying, but actually endangering people’s lives, such as funders requiring anything to be signed or mailed, I have decided to start naming and shaming on Twitter, using the hashtag #CrappyFundingPractices. DM me @nonprofitAF (or email vu@nonprofitAF.com) any ridiculousness you see, and I will tweet about it and tag the funder so you can remain anonymous. Then I want everyone following to like and retweet because it notifies the funder every time you do that.

All crappy funding practices and general philanthropic shenanigans are fair game to be called out. (updated to add: I always recommend direct communications and feedback to funders, so please try to do that when you can. However, because of power dynamics, sometimes it helps to remain anonymous.) To balance things out, let’s also publicly acknowledge funders engaged in #AwesomeFundingPractices. If you can keep your DM to 280 characters and also find me the funder’s twitter handle, that will save me some time, but don’t worry too much about it. Feel free also to use the hashtags yourselves. I also encourage you to write anonymous reviews of foundations on Grantadvisor.org.

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Hi everyone, like you, I’ve been on lots of Zoom calls. And I noticed we use tons of jargon and cliches. So, for a break from serious COVID news and discussions this week, here is part 5 of the NAF jargon series, where we examine annoying and overused jargon, and then come up with other phrases we should use instead, until those jargon themselves become annoying. New game: You get a point for every new jargon you use this week on video meetings (Here are parts 1, 2, 3, and 4, with classics like “silos” and “in my wheelhouse.” The new jargon in those posts also count towards your points.)

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A sample annual appeal letter, if nonprofits were brutally honest with donors

[ Hi everyone, this is the last post of this calendar year. NAF will take a short break and will return with a feisty article on January 6th, 2020. Happy holidays! ]

[Image description: A blank white sheet of paper on some untreated wood planks, with various round gold ornaments and green pine branches surrounding it. The top right corner of the paper is covered with a smiling cartoony angel ornament, while the bottom left corner has a gold bow and a red bow, the kind one puts on presents. Pixabay.com]

Dear John,

As the year winds down, I know you are getting inundated with appeal letters from dozens of nonprofits. This letter is one of them. Just like other missions, we are writing to ask you to give money so we can keep vital programs and services running. And don’t worry, despite all those memes floating around about nonprofits spending 94 cents of every dollar on luxury cars and unicorn steaks or whatever, the money you donate is being put to good use. By being spent on staff, who do all of the work, along with critical things like office rent, utilities, etc. Your support makes it all possible.

Let me insert a story designed to affect you emotionally. Our program director Katie had terrible dental pains caused by her wisdom teeth, but we could not afford to give staff health insurance AND dental insurance. For months, she just carried on, but it really affected the program. The kids we serve could not understand what she was saying due to all the agonized mumbling. It made consoling them when ICE raided their parents’ workplaces a little more challenging. But thanks to donors like you last year, we were able to upgrade our healthcare from Copper to Copper Plus, which includes dental! Katie was finally able to get her wisdom teeth removed (with a $1200 deductible that she can pay off gradually with interest)! The afterschool program is stronger than ever!

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8 nonprofit-themed cocktail recipes to brighten up your holiday party

[Image description: Six hands holding up various colorful cocktails together, clinking glasses. I hope those straws are compostable. Pixabay.com]

Hi everyone! It’s the holiday season, which means many of you are hosting parties. Spruce up your gatherings with these cocktails below and prepare to wow your colleagues*. Also check out parts 1 and 2 of this series, “Nonprofit Cocktail Recipes” and “9 Nonprofit-Inspired Cocktail Recipes for Your Holiday Party.” Share your own recipes in the comment section, or on Twitter using #NonprofitThemedCocktails. (*Please consult with your doctor and/or a mixologist before implementing these recipes below).

1. The Founder Syndrome

2 oz absinthe

1 oz chilled grapefruit juice

4 oz cold water

1 sugar cube

Splash of Peychaud’s (or Angostura’s or whatever bitters you have lying around)

Set absinthe spoon (or a fork) over a cocktail glass. Place the sugar cube on top of spoon or fork. Pour absinthe onto the sugar cube and into the glass. Set the sugar cube on fire. Wait 10 seconds or until flame goes out. Slowly drip cold water onto the sugar cube until it is dissolved. Add the rest of the water, along with grapefruit juice and splash of Peychaud’s. Was once on fire; can be great in small doses at the right time, but otherwise overwhelming and bitter.

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We need to stop joking about the sad state of retirement security in nonprofit. It’s no longer funny.

[Image description: An exhausted cat sleeping with their head on a wooden platform. They are white with some gray hair on their head, and pink ears. Their eyes are closed. I wonder if they’re dreaming. Do cats dream? Excuse me while I spend the next hour googling whether research has been done regarding whether and which animals dream. Pixabay.com]

A couple of weeks ago, I asked the NAF Facebook community, “What are creative ways you are thinking of in terms of retirement? Me, collecting kitchen gadgets in hope that these cherry pitter and pickle grabber etc., will appreciate in value!” The comments that came back were hilarious, because this is a group of brilliant, witty, and extremely good-looking folks. Here are a few:

  • “I intend to die in whatever museum I’m working in, and have my corpse be mistaken for part of the exhibit program. Until a century later, when an intern is cleaning they figure out that I’m that curator who disappeared. It’s the price of fame.”
  • “Dumpster dive former board members homes.”
  • “Relying on my love of the outdoors, because I’ll be living in a tent. When I’m ready to die, it’ll be with honor- just wandering into the forest and letting the coyotes eat me.”
  • “I plan on selling black market pies at the train station. Not kidding. I make excellent pie.”
  • “Work until I die – in debt”
  • “Commune / small house community with all of the other women I know who gave their best years to the cause and never got enough in salary or retirement benefits to be able to “plan” for retirement.”
  • “I feel like Pokémon will still being a thing in like 40 years, so hopefully I can sell the cards that I hoarded in 1999 to help make the student loan payments I’ll have until I die.”
  • “I’ve thought about dying at my desk”
  • “Counting on society to totally collapse before then, so currency and debt will be meaningless.”
  • “I plan on dying on the phone line, most likely in the middle of an ask.”
  • “My retirement plan is climate change and/or the total collapse of late stage capitalism.”
  • “I will die in my broken office chair.”
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