Hi everyone, before we get started, it’s been five years since Unicorns Unite: How Nonprofits and Foundations Can Build EPICPartnerships, a book I wrote with co-authors Jessamyn Shams-Lau and Jane Leu, was released. Here’s a free webinar taking place on February 14th at 10am PT to discuss what we’ve learned since then. Auto-captions will be enabled. Also, please use promo code UNI50 here to get 50% off your copy of the book.
Today, we talk about an issue that many of us probably had no idea existed, but one that is very annoying to those affected, and it perpetuates inequity. The concept of “tipping.” This is basically the idea that if a foundation gives a nonprofit “too much” funding, it would “tip” that nonprofit into becoming a foundation itself, which would then open a hole in the fabric of spacetime and an ancient evil would breach our dimension to rain chaos and destruction and there would be fire and brimstone and terrible wifi.
Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Those of us who are in nonprofit, philanthropy, and other fields focused on making the world better rely on his words as a beacon for our work. Which is why this week we will be inundated with MLK quotes.
Before we quote him, though, let’s do some serious reflections about Dr. King and what he said and what he stood for. Otherwise, we run the risk of choosing the least controversial quotes, the ones that don’t make us uncomfortable or force us to confront our privileges or change the way we do things. Then we feel good about ourselves and continue perpetuating the injustice he fought against.
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.”
Hi everyone. My plane is boarding for Aotearoa, so apologies for any errors or clumsy wording in this post.
When I was in high school, I took AP Psychology. A few weeks into the class, my teacher, Mr. Henderson, approached me to ask how I was doing in class. I said I didn’t think I was doing OK, that I was nervous about the AP exam, and that I was afraid I would fail it. He then told me that we would be learning about the Dunning-Kruger effect (DKE) and gave me a brief synopsis. (I did end up passing the exam with a 5, and Mr. Henderson, with his mustache, piercing insights, and gentle sense of humor would end up becoming one of the most important mentors in my life; he advised me that a career in psychology may not pay very well, so I took his words to heart and went into the lucrative field of nonprofit.)
The Dunning-Kruger effect is basically this (though I’m paraphrasing a bit): People with lower skills, knowledge, and expertise tend to overestimate themselves, while those who are more skilled, knowledgeable, etc., tend to underestimate themselves. Some of this is hypothesized to be because incompetent people may be too incompetent to recognize that they are incompetent, while competent people are competent enough to realize they may not yet know everything and still need to learn and improve.
Hi everyone, I’ll be taking a break next month, so this will be the last post until August 1st. It’s probably good for me to take a break, because considering the rage I’m feeling, I might say things I’ll regret later. I know many of you are devasted by the overturning of Roe v Wade, and fearful of what is sure to come next: The reversal of marriage equality, the ending of rights to contraception, the further erosion of speech and other freedoms, among other horrible things.
(By the way, if you are a supporter of forced pregnancy who is celebrating this decision by five fascist Supreme Court Justices, get the hell off my blog and out of my life; you are not pro-life, you are pro-death, because this decision will kill millions of people, especially those of marginalized identities. I am not here to debate with you about basic human rights; take your 1850’s-era morality elsewhere).