Hi everyone, next week we have PEEP (Party to Enhance Equity in Philanthropy), a series of fun events where nonprofit and foundation staff and board members get together and stare into one another’s eyes while the wind rustles through the leaves and the warm sun paints the afternoon with shades of rose-gold, heralding the beginning of a long, languid summer.
Or something like that; I might be romanticizing it a bit. It’s basically an agenda-free get-together. It won’t solve the power dynamics and systemic issues, of course, but it’s nice to find time for nonprofit and philanthropy folks to connect, and maybe cool stuff may result. Details for some of the events are listed at the end of this post. If you are having an event that’s not listed, fill out this form and I’ll mention it next week.
Some of you may recall that PEEP’s original name was Beverage to Enhance Equity in Relationships (BEER), which I came up with years ago. Lots of people found it amusing, and before the pandemic, BEER events were taking place in different geographic areas. But I was getting the occasional feedback from colleagues who are in recovery, or who have loved ones in recovery, saying that “BEER” was normalizing and possibly glorifying drinking. So the name was changed through a vote.
Over the past few years, I’ve been supporting a family member with alcohol addiction. The experience made me realize how awful this illness is, and also how ingrained a culture of drinking is in our society and in our sector. Our galas and other events are often saturated with booze. Drinking is often core to our hangouts. We joke about drinking all the time. I myself have made numerous jokes about alcohol on this blog, during meetings, and during my keynotes and panels, without stopping to think about how this may affect colleagues.
Considering how so many of us are so thoughtful of others in so many ways, this is an area I hope we can improve on. Here are some things we can all do:
At the beginning of the pandemic, I texted a friend, an executive director, to see how he was doing. “I share this in confidence,” he texted back, “current sitch, watching Frozen 2 in bed with [my daughter].” He sent over a picture of his TV, on which Anna was huddled against a rock, despondent, about to launch into a song about doing the next right thing. When everything was chaotic and stressful, it was nice to imagine my friend spending time with his little one.
It’s been more than a year since the pandemic started. All of us are overwhelmed and traumatized. And unfortunately, I still see many of us falling into the same terrible habits we had during the Before Times, when we met for lunch and dinner, orchestra music swelling as we embraced one another in slow-motion, golden sunlight burnishing our eyes into twinkling coins. (At least, that’s how I remember it).
Hi everyone. Quick announcement before we launch into today’s post. The Peery Foundation, whose CEO Jessamyn Shams-Lau and I co-authored the book Unicorns Unite (along with the amazing Jane Leu of Smarter Good), is having an Ask Me Anything on 2/14 at 11am Pacific time. They’re trying to “pull back the curtain on foundation decision-making. No question is off-limits and our host’s favorite question will win a box of chocolates.” Find out how philanthropy sausage is made.
I’ve been meaning to write about this topic for a while. Thanks to colleague Theresa Meyers, Chief of Staff at DC Central Kitchen, for bringing this back to my attention. Every once a while, we nonprofits get requests from students, usually from a nonprofit management program. The requests often go like this,
“Hi, I am a student at so-and-so college. I am
taking a course on organizational development this quarter. Part of our
curriculum is to interview several leaders at a nonprofit, and then develop a series
of recommendations on how your organization can improve. May I interview you
and your team? This project is due next Friday. Thank you for your time.”
The last four years have been rough on many of us. There is generalized anxiety caused by the relentless cruelty, racism, and inhumanity of this administration. My mental health professional friends have been getting more business than they can handle. All of us to a degree feel helpless against the overwhelming forces of hatred that we read about on a daily basis. Our dedication to the fight, though, means that we often channel this energy toward targets that are easier and closer in proximity. And thus, we sometimes turn on one another. As one colleague said to me, “People need closer targets, and ones they can successfully take down.”
Hi everyone, I am still in Vietnam. This was supposed to be a vacation, but I realize that I suck at vacationing. So I went on to the NAF Facebook community, made up of witty and attractive people, to ask for tips. The community did not disappoint! Over 500 comments came in within hours. I’ve highlighted a few below, in no particular order. If you are terrible at relaxing and recharging on vacation, perhaps some of these tips may help. Or not! Thank you to the colleagues who provided them, some while they were on vacation. With so many comments, it was hard to pick and choose, and many good comments were left out. Please check out the NAF FB page for the full thread (and add your own #NonprofitVacationTips on Twitter)