10 terrifying tales set in nonprofit and philanthropy guaranteed to give you shivers

[Image description: Three jack-o-lantern pumpkins with menacing faces, one directly facing the camera. Image by Vladvictoria on Pixabay.]

Happy Halloween everyone! Below are the 10 winners of the Nonprofit AF Scary Story Contest 2022. Thank you to the dozens of colleagues who sent in entries. I read them all under a blanket with a flashlight, shivering with mounting fear and dread as if I was creating a budget using a funder’s budget format set in Word. It was a very difficult task to choose the 10 winners. We have some talented writers (and at least one amazing actor, as you’ll see in a video below) in our sector. These stories won based on creativity, scariness, and originality. Understandably, many colleagues asked to remain anonymous. I did very little editing, except to add Oxford Commas. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

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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.)

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What Loot, the show on Apple TV+, gets right and wrong about nonprofit and philanthropy

[Image description: A yacht at a port in Corsica France. Image by markusspiske on Pixabay]

Hi everyone. It’s been a while since I’ve written about a TV show. I was scarred by Game of Thrones and its outlandish, horrifying ending (turns out Daenerys, Mother of Dragons, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, stole classified nuclear documents, kept them at her castle, and engaged in espionage for the White Walkers). But so many people (2) have asked for my opinion on the new show Loot, that I am compelled to dust off my TV analysis skills, which got a significant number (4) of endorsements on my LinkedIn profile.

For folks who have not seen it, there will be **SPOILERS** so please feel free to skip this post if needed. We will be back to regular rants and shenanigans next week.

Loot stars the amazing Maya Rudolph as Molly Wells, who lives a ridiculously lavish life—she gets a yacht on her birthday, and David Chang is her personal chef—with her billionaire tech tycoon husband John Novak (played by Adam Scott). She finds out Novak has been cheating on her, files for divorce, and keeps 87 Billion dollars. Hurt and untethered, she parties hard, embarrasses herself in public, which leads to a phone call from Sofia Salinas (played by Michaela Jaé Rodriguez), the ED of her foundation. Molly had no idea she even had foundation. The ten short episodes follow her as she learns about philanthropy and nonprofit, rediscovers love, and grows as an individual. Clearly this is at least partly inspired by MacKenzie Scott.

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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%.  

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“Plaque and Sack”: The art of getting rid of terrible board members while making them feel appreciated

[Image description: A hand holding a clear glass globe with a flat bottom. It looks like an award of some kind. Image by David Dvořáček on Unsplash]

Hi everyone, in honor of Juneteenth, I want funders and donors to remember that only 1.8% of traditional philanthropic dollars go to Black-led orgs. So, if you’ve released or are releasing a statement about Juneteenth, back it up by giving significant money to Black orgs and movements.

In our line of work, there are amazing board members who make our lives easier. They look out for staff; remember their birthdays and send flowers; advocate for equitable policies like paid family leave and sabbaticals; and pick up the tabs at lunch and coffee.

And then there are board members whose unholy presence constantly threatens to open a gate for ancient god Cthulhu to enter this reality and cover the land in a thousand years of agony; who are so irritating and possibly destructive that you imagine a giant squid-faced being ravaging the world and you think “that might not be so bad.”

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