10 shows about nonprofit and philanthropy that would be way better than “The Activist”

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By now you’ve probably heard about the new show to debut on CBS called “The Activist,” in which six activists compete for funding and attention for their causes, success measured by social media engagement and the input of celebrity mentors Usher, Priyanka Chopra, and Julianne Hough.

Of course, everyone is rightly up in arms. There are so many things wrong with this concept. Forcing activists to compete against one another in a Hunger Games for the crumbs thrown out by the wealthy. Measuring success through social media engagement. Having celebrities who know little to nothing about these issues judging activists with years of experience. And doing it all as entertainment:

Maria, your TikTok video about rising poverty and deaths in the Global South caused by climate change was informative, but garnered the lowest number of likes. One viewer commented: ‘The video made me sad. I wanted to see something more fun and hopeful, with maybe some dancing while gesturing at statistics.’ Unfortunately, we have to eliminate you from the competition. But you won’t leave empty-handed. One of our sponsors has generously decided to donate 500 pairs of shoes to your organization to give to villagers fleeing their flood-ravaged homes!

#CancelTheActivist is the hashtag someone started. Let’s get mobilizing.

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Imagine if Marvel made a movie about nonprofit superheroes

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Hi everyone, I’m back from a month of not writing. Thank you for your patience. During this time, I was able to find myself, rethink my life, and finally understand what it means to truly live. And by that, I mean hung out with the kids and when they were at summer program or asleep, I watched Sweet Tooth, The Queen’s Gambit, Superstore, Mare of Easttown, Pen15, House of Flowers, The Crown, The K2, Castlevania, Kim’s Convenience, and whole bunch of movies. I learned very little.

Anyway, I’m back, and my brain can’t manage a serious column yet. While I was watching Loki, I thought, You know, our sector barely has representation in popular media. This is too bad, considering how exciting nonprofit and philanthropic work is. You know what we need? Marvel to make movies about our work. Here’s some random scenes of what one might look like.

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10 tips for spicing up your love life if you work in nonprofit and philanthropy

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Valentine’s Day is this coming Sunday. Even without an endless pandemic, it can be challenging for people in relationships to keep the spark alive. So here are some tips, written with nonprofit/philanthropy professionals in mind, and not just for Valentine’s Day, but every day. As usual, please use what you find helpful and ignore the rest. Add your own advice in the comment section.

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Scary nonprofit stories for Halloween 2020

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Hi everyone, before we get to today’s less-serious post, please have your organization sign this letter urging Congress to enact legislation requiring foundations and Donor-Advised Funds to increase the amount of they are giving out to nonprofits, from a minimum of 5% of their endowments to 10%. This would free up $200 billion USD over the next three years, money that is desperately needed as our communities face this pandemic.

Halloween is this coming Saturday, which means it is time for Scary Nonprofit Stories. Here are several terrifying stories set in our sector. Make sure you are not reading them at night. If you are in the mood to share your own stories, use #NonprofitScaryStories on Twitter. And of course, if you’re looking for nonprofit-themed costumes for that virtual party, check out #NonprofitHalloweenCostumes.

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Honest email auto-replies you can use during these challenging times

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Hi everyone. The past few months have been ridiculous. If you’ve emailed me, you literally got this auto-response back:

“Hi. This is an automatic reply. Due to parenting and homeschooling two small children, I will be slow to respond to emails. And I’ll be honest, I may forget to respond completely. If something is urgent, please call or text me. Thank you. Vu.”

This has actually been extremely helpful to have in place, as folks have been a lot more understanding when they hear from me three months after they email. Things are not normal. We all need to be a little more honest with one another in our communications. With that in mind, here are some auto-responses I drafted to serve as inspiration for you all. Feel free to adapt them to suit your needs:

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