Examining the equity implications of culture of philanthropy

[Image description: An adorable brown puppy, asleep on a beige rug, their eyes closed, facing the camera. Image by Pexels on Pixabay]

Hi everyone. A couple of things before we get started on this week’s topic. First, if you’re planning to host some sort of PEEP (Party to Enhance Equity in Philanthropy), please fill out this form by June 10th so I can help spread the word. Second, I’ll be taking the annual summer break from this blog during all of July. And last, I mentioned in January that I’ll be removing ads from this website. Wellll….after looking at my finances, I realize that this is losing me a lot of money. I hate backtracking, but I need money to buy hummus and dark chocolate. So, the random google ads are still gone, but the display ads (the ads you see on the side of this website and not embedded into articles), are coming back starting August, after the break. Thank you for understanding. And thank you, Patreon supporters, for keeping this blog open to everyone and with fewer ads.

Over the past several years, we’ve been hearing the term “culture of philanthropy” a lot. According to the 2013 report Underdeveloped, by Haas Jr. Fund and CompassPoint, culture of philanthropy incorporates these key elements:

“Most people in the organization (across positions) act as ambassadors and engage in relationship-building. Everyone promotes philanthropy and can articulate a case for giving. Fund development is viewed and valued as a mission-aligned program of the organization. Organizational systems are established to support donors. The executive director is committed and personally involved in fundraising.”

Continue reading “Examining the equity implications of culture of philanthropy”

Nonprofit and philanthropy: Stop with the BS and get serious about fighting white supremacy

[Image description: A hand cupping a lit candle in a clear glass. In the background are more lit candles. Image by Rebecca Peterson-Hall on Unsplash]

Hi everyone. Thank you for your patience last week, as I had to skip out on a blog post for health reason. I’m feeling better, though I wish I could skip writing this post too. This is going to be a serious piece that may piss off a lot of people.

Last week, we were reeling from the Supreme Court’s leaked decision to overturn Roe vs Wade. People will die, especially Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asians and NH/PI, and low-income people, because safe abortions will still remain accessible to higher-income mostly white people.

This week, a white man drove 200 miles to Buffalo and murdered 10 people, most of whom were Black, citing the “Great replacement theory” espoused by many right-wing white supremacists. It is horrifying, and my heart breaks for the families of those who were murdered by this racist terrorist.

Continue reading “Nonprofit and philanthropy: Stop with the BS and get serious about fighting white supremacy”

Inflation is killing nonprofits. Funders, you need to supplement your grants immediately.

[Image a green frog with an inflated vocal sac, standing on a leaf. Image by David Cole on Unsplash]

Hi everyone. We are rapidly approaching the summer, which means it’s time for the annual Party to Enhance Equity in Philanthropy (PEEP), a series of events across the sector where funders and nonprofit folks get together, virtually or in-person (ideally outdoors), to break down the weird power dynamics we have, and just learn to see one another as human beings. It should be fun and informal, and usually taking place on the week of Summer Solstice (June 21st this year). If you are planning to host an event, please fill out this form by June 10th so I can help spread the word.

While we are on the topic of the relationship between funders and nonprofit leaders, we need to talk about inflation, how it’s been affecting nonprofits, and what we need from funders. It’s really bad, the highest inflation rate in 40 years, and will likely stay bad or even get worse for a while. There are people more knowledgeable than I am who have written about this topic. This article (“Nonprofits and Foundations Need to Be Prepared for the Effects of Inflation on Services, Operations, and Endowments”), brings up several good points:

Continue reading “Inflation is killing nonprofits. Funders, you need to supplement your grants immediately.”

The way we manage conflicts needs to take neurodiversity into consideration

[Image description: Drawing of a profile of a human head, showing a cross section of the brain. Radiating white lines are shooting out of the brain, on light blue and dark blue background. Image by geralt on Pixabay]

Hi everyone. This is going to be a long post. And it’s one of the more difficult posts for me to write, because I am not an expert in neurodiversity, or conflict management, or how the two might intersect. And I don’t know enough to know whether I would be considered neurodiverse/divergent or not, though I’ve been told I exhibit some signs of inattentive ADHD. For example, being constantly distracted even during the middle of conversations and tasks (at this moment, for instance, I am trying very hard not to spend the next two hours googling the history of marshmallows, because that’s what randomly popped into my mind ten minutes ago while I was writing this paragraph, and now it haunts me). Colleagues made fun of the fact that I wrote notes on my hands, forgot basic information while remembering obscure facts, doodled and sometimes stared into space during meetings, and that my desk and office were always a trash fire of hummus-stained post-it notes and bags and boxes of miscellaneous stuff. This is balanced out by occasions when I get excessively focused and absorbed in a task, like the one time I was so engrossed in writing this blog post at the airport that I missed my plane even though I was sitting right in front of the gate and they called my name several times.

I know that neurodiversity is a huge umbrella that includes many different types, including autism, dyslexia, dyscalculia, sensory integration disorder, dysgraphia, synesthesia, anxiety, and many others. For the sake of this topic, I’m going to simplify it into “thinking and processing information in ways that may not be typical of how most people think and process information.” I’ve been thinking about this a lot because with everything that’s been going on and how stressed everyone is, I’ve been seeing a lot more conflicts in the sector. Some of it is heartbreaking, including conflicts I’m involved in, with and among people I care deeply about.

Unfortunately, the conflict-resolution tools and techniques we’ve been relying on don’t always work, or are actually making things worse, because these tools and techniques were designed with neurotypical people in mind, with the grounding assumptions that everyone involved in the conflict will have the same thought patterns, the same way of absorbing, interpreting, and communicating information.

Continue reading “The way we manage conflicts needs to take neurodiversity into consideration”

7 principles of community-centric boards

[Image description: Fluffy yellow and brown ducklings, one floating in a small metal bowl filled with water. Image by AdinaVoicu on Pixabay]

A while ago, a colleague and I, both haggard executive directors with involuntary eye twitches, were having lunch. Our conversation led us to our boards, and he told me of how his board chair scolded him for the egregious crime of forwarding a funding opportunity to another nonprofit. “He was mad that I helped our ‘competition’ by letting them know of a request for proposals from a foundation. I figured why wouldn’t we share RFPs with one another?”

Fast forward to now, several years and a pandemic later, and unfortunately, I still hear stories like this. Boards of directors are truly some of the biggest stressors in the sector, often more harmful than helpful, as I’ve written about here and here. But it’s partly because we’ve trained boards to think and act in certain ways, ways that over time help to entrench siloing, competitiveness, and survivalism.

Continue reading “7 principles of community-centric boards”