An apology to everyone I’ve offended for speaking up against g3nocide

[Image description: A cute brown and white dog, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, with their head down, looking up with big, liquid eyes. Image by PicsbyFran on Pixabay]

My esteemed colleagues,

Since October 17th, when I published my first blog post talking about IsraeI and PaIestine, I have received many, many comments, emails, texts, and private messages on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook from many of you, expressing sadness and disappointment in my words. Over the next several months, I doubled down, condemning Israel’s relentless slaughter of untold children and civilians. I encouraged actions such as contacting elected officials and demanding they support a permanent ceasefire. I called for us in this sector to support an end to Israel’s settler colonial occupation and apartheid regime, and for a Free Palestine.

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When nonprofit staff are paid so low they qualify for their org’s services

[Image description: A whitish/orangish kitten, lying on the ground, their face scrunched up with eyes nearly closed. They’re either sleeping or resting. Image by Naturell on Pixabay]

A while ago, at the request of some colleagues, I talked about “Nonprofit Math” and created a little video that went viral. One of the examples I brought up was “paying your staff so little that they qualify for the services your organization is providing.” That line got a lot of chuckles.

It’s so great how we can laugh at ourselves! One of my favorite pieces of humor is an Onion article called “Nonprofit Fights Poverty with Poverty.”

But OK, a lot of humor is rooted in at least some fraction of truth, and it’s time we confront this one. Although the idea that some people are paid so little they could qualify to be a client for their own or another nonprofit’s programs seems ridiculous, the reality is that it does happen. And probably with more frequency than we realize. Last week, a friend of mine who lives in a very expensive area of the US texted me this:

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The nonprofit rut, and what we can do about it

[Image description: Four adorable grey and white kittens, sitting in a tiny four-wheeled wagon with a long pull stick. Image by u_uf78c121 on Pixabay]

Hi everyone, I am writing from Nairobi Kenya, where I am listening to local leaders and engaging in reflections about global aid and the many challenges around it. It has been nice to physically avoid the dumpster fire that is much of US politics, especially over the past few months as most of our politicians have been offering their full-throated support of Israel’s gen0cide of Palestinians. I’ve also been disappointed with our sector, where, with a few courageous exceptions, we’ve mostly been silent as Israel massacres thousands of children and civilians using our tax dollars.

To be honest, I think I’ve reached a point now where I am starting to lose faith in our unicorn magic, and I’m more bitter and jaded and have been randomly mumbling under my breath about the hopelessness and futility of it all. I’ve become an old man yelling at clouds. Is our sector effective? Surely, with so many kind, compassionate, justice-minded individuals in the trenches, we must be. Everywhere there are signs of good, vital work being done.

So why does it always still feel so Sisyphean? Why do we keep having the same conversations, the same challenges, the same grumblings when we get together and can speak our minds freely?

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Nonprofit work and its toll on our physical health, and what we need to do about it

[A grey striped cat, lying on the grass outside, staring kind of blankly into space. They look bored or just nonchalant. Image by guvo59 on Pixabay]

Hi everyone. It’s been four years since I left being a nonprofit executive director and became “Financially Untethered” (FU), and let me tell you, it’s been amazing. I sleep better, no longer waking up in the middle of the night, whimpering “I hope we can make payroll, I hope we can make payroll.” The involuntary twitch in my left eye is still there, but it’s gradually devolving into a sly wink. And I have started reverse-aging and now only look 54!

Jokes aside, today’s topic is about the toll nonprofit work takes on our physical health, and what actions we can take. The work that many of us do in this field often comes at great costs, such as taking financial hits that leave many people unsure about their future retirement plans. There are also mental health challenges that come from being stressed out all the time. I don’t think, though, that we often stop to think about what this work does to us in terms of our physical health and the years it’s taking from us.

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Vital and invisible as air: An appreciation of nonprofit professionals

[Image description: A grassy hill, linted with pine trees, standing before a mountain. This was taken by me on a trip to Mt. Rainier. I had altitude sickness and could barely breathe!]

Hi everyone, last week was my kids’ first week of school. This always brings bittersweet emotions as I watch my little ones find their lines, reconnect with their friends, and increase a notch in their confidence and independence. I know the days of them holding my hands as we walk to their classes each morning are numbered, as are the moments when they turn around to wave to me before they disappear behind the walls and doors of their school. It’s beautiful. But also heart-wrenching, when I let myself ruminate about the unforgiving passage of time.

But this post is not about my kids. While dealing with the logistics of school starting, I was filled with appreciation for the nonprofits and nonprofit professionals in our sector. Kiet, my younger one, asked when his “art classes” will start up again. This is an after-school program run by a local organization here. Last year, I dropped by the program, and the wonderful staff were leading creative games and having the kids express themselves by drawing on little squares of paper.

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