Greek Myths if They Were Set in the Nonprofit Sector, Part 2

[Image description: A statue of a man being attacked by an eagle, while another person tries to fend off the eagle. Sculpture of Prometheus by Eduard Müller (1872/79) at Alte Nationalgalerie Berlin. Picture by Christian Paul Stobbe on Unsplash]

Hi everyone, a couple of announcements. Starting next week, Nonprofit AF posts will be published on TUESDAYS. I know, many of you have told me how you appreciate these posts to help you start the week. But publishing on Mondays over the past decade meant that I lost many hours of my weekends to writing, editing, and weeping softly over a bowl of ice cream at midnight. As my kids grow up, I want to spend as much time as I can with them, so thank you for your understanding.

Also, a reminder that I will be moderating a conversation on Artificial Intelligence and what it means for our sector next week on March 14th. On the panel will be Beth Kanter and Allison Fine, the co-authors of The Smart Nonprofit, as well as Philip Deng, founder and owner of AI-supported grantwriting platform Grantable. It’s free, and automatic captions will be available. If you can’t make it, register so you can get access to the recording.

On to today’s post. A few months ago, we had Greek myths if there were set in the nonprofit sector, including the story of Sisyphus and how he was forced to write one-year grants forever, Cassandra and her prophecies about equity and diversity never being believed, how Echo became a consultant, etc. Here is part 2 in the series.

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Nonprofit pickup lines you can use this Valentine’s Day (and year-round)

[Image description: A bunch of paper hearts in red, pink, and white, and in various sizes, scattered on a white rug and wooden floor. Image by Element5 Digital on Unsplash]

Hi everyone, a couple of things before we get started. On March 14th, 9:30am Pacific Time, I’ll be moderating a conversation on Artificial Intelligence and what it means for our sector, in partnership with Beth Kanter, Allison Fine, and Philip Deng. It’s free. There will be automatic captions. Register here.

Also, this week, on Valentine’s Day at 10am PT, I’ll be having a 5-year reunion with the co-authors of Unicorns Unite: How Nonprofits and Foundations Can Build EPIC Partnerships, to discuss what we learned. Also free and will have captions. Hope to see you there.

Speaking of Valentine’s Day, for the past few years we’ve been having lots of fun on Twitter with the hashtag #NonprofitPickupLines. As Twitter is becoming less and less stable, I thought we should capture some of the contributions for posterity. If you have a crush in the sector and don’t know how to make your move, give these lines a try:

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20 new rules regarding handwritten thank-you notes we must all adopt immediately

[Image description: A beautiful fountain pen of wood with gold trimmings, lying on a blank sheet of stationery, its cap off and resting nearby. There is a white feather in the background. Image by Bru-nO on Pixabay]

Hi everyone, before we get started, it’s Black History Month, so let’s all remind ourselves that only about 2% of philanthropic dollars go to Black-led organizations. Funders, release all the statements of support you want, but increase funding and donations to Black organizations, movements, and individual leaders. Have more grants like the Washington Women’s Foundation’s Rest and Repair Awards, which provides $100,000 grants each to individual Black women leaders. The rest of us, meanwhile, should be donating to Black-led orgs, supporting Black-owned businesses, and calling our representatives and writing op-eds to protest the banning of AP African American Studies, among other actions.

Handwritten thank-you notes (HWTYN) have been a contentious topic in our sector of late. Some people think they are an absolute necessity for proper etiquette and relationship-building, while others believe they are an outdated relic of ancient times, like denim jackets and fair elections. Even Dr. Glaucomflecken weighed in. I have written about the cultural and equity implications of thank-you notes, so I won’t rehash.

But given that society is changing rapidly, we need some new rules. So forget everything you’ve been taught about thank you-notes, and instead follow these guidelines, which are in no particular order because I am not that organized:

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12 predictions for nonprofit and philanthropy for 2023

[A hand holding up a shiny crystal ball. Or possibly a large frozen soap bubble. There are interesting patterns that look like ice crystals on it. Image by Uki_71 on Pixabay]

Hi everyone! I hope the new year is treating you well. Since it is a brand new year, I thought I would use my Pisces power to predict what’s in store for our sector over the coming months. As everyone knows, we Pisces are attuned to the vibrations of the universe and are often blessed with clairvoyance. (We are also known to be kind, caring, sensitive, artistic, humble, and good-looking in unconventional ways.)

Here are the predictions, based on the alignments of the stars, planets, and a proprietary divination method that I like to call “surfing the internet and then guessing.” Please read with a critical eye and consult with your doctor, lawyer, or astrologer before acting on any of these predictions below:

1.Artificial Intelligence will bring hope and fear to many: AI will be on the forefront of many minds. It is exciting! It is terrifying! It is coming! Will it allow us to quickly take care of pointless and time-consuming tasks such as writing grant proposals? Will we see a spike in creepy, unsettling images on websites and donor solicitation letters, creepier and more unsettling than just the usual white savior surrounded by kids of color? Is this the beginning of a tech Renaissance…or possibly the beginning of a Matrix-style robotic revolution that we will probably need to work into our theory of change and then fundraise to resist later? Be on the lookout for more of these discussions.

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A Christmas Carol, Updated for Our Times

[Image description: An illustration of Scrooge, sitting in an armchair in his robes and floppy hat, being visited by the ghost of Jacob Marley, who appears to be shackled with chains and money boxes. Image by Prawny on Pixabay]

Hi everyone, this will be the last post of 2022. I will be back on January 3rd.

Charles Dickens’s novella a Christmas Carol is a timeless classic. It was first published in 1843 and has never gone out of print. But 1843 is nearly 180 years ago. It’s time for us to update the story to be more relevant to our times:


The story opens at a large foundation’s headquarters on Christmas Eve. Ebenezer Scrooge is the president of the foundation’s board of trustees. He is a miser who hates spending money, Christmas, and people in general. Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s executive assistant, is looking at some documents. “Mr. Scrooge,” he says, “it seems we haven’t met our legal minimum for how much money the foundation has to spend each year. What do you say we give some extra money to a few nonprofits in the area? Look at this one. Tiny Dem. It’s a small organization working to end voter suppression, gerrymandering, and corruption in politics. This is the fifth time they applied to us.”

“Tiny Dem? Bah humbug!” grumbles Scrooge, “that is the most ridiculous name for a nonprofit! And their mission doesn’t align with the foundation’s main priority, which is teaching financial literacy to toddlers. If children learn early, they won’t grow up to be impoverished hornswogglers suckling at the udders of society. No, just put enough money into a Donor-Advised Fund to meet the legal minimum.”

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