Gift Guide: 12 amazing gift ideas for your nonprofit staff or grantees!

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Hi everyone, just a quick reminder that this week on December 7th, the amazing Sandy Ho and I are having a conversation called “Dismantling the Culture of Professionalism,” part of a series of talks in celebration of the brilliant Alice Wong’s new book, Year of the Tiger: An Activist’s Life. Join us for this fun discussion. I think a few lucky people in the audience will also get Alice’s book for free, which I have read and which fills me with awe, joy, and gratitude, and not just because she uses the Oxford Comma consistently. Register here. ASL/CC will be provided.

It is December, which means that many of us are thinking of gifts for the people in our lives, thanks to the joy of capitalism and consumer culture. Now, if you work in this sector, especially if you are an executive leader, board member, or funder, you may be trying to figure out the best gifts for your staff or grantees. They can be so hard to shop for! That’s why I’ve compiled a list of gifts sure to please even the most discerning of nonprofit professionals:

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18 tips to help you become a kickass writer!

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Hi everyone, before we get started on today’s topic, if you’re free on December 7th at 4pm Pacific Time, please join me and Sandy Ho of Disability Inclusion Fund at Borealis Philanthropy, for a conversation called “Dismantling the Culture of Professionalism,” sponsored by the Longmore institute on Disability. This is a series of conversations sparked by Alice Wong’s brilliant and hilarious new book, Year of the Tiger. It is FREE, and ASL and captions will be provided. We will talk about how the concept of professionalism plays out in work culture, hiring processes, philanthropy, communications, etc. It’ll be informal, Sandy and I will be cussing, and at least one of us will be dressed in a unicorn onesie, you have been warned. Register here.

People often ask me for advice on writing. (No one ever asks me for my skincare routine, which is understandable, but hurtful). First of all, you don’t need to make writing your main form of communication if writing is not your thing. There are others, possibly more enjoyable and effective ways for you to get your ideas out into the world. Videos, for example. Or Vietnamese water puppetry. I always say we don’t have enough Vietnamese water puppetry in our sector. 

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Zombie Missions: Organizations that should close but won’t

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There is often the complaint that we have too many nonprofits in our sector. I don’t necessarily agree, and in fact I think that when it comes to some types of nonprofits, such as certain ones led by marginalized communities, we may need MORE, not fewer. But that’s for a future conversation.

However, I do think we have organizations that are floating aimlessly around the sector in a state of limbo. Over the past few months, I’ve heard at least two stories of these orgs that are holding on for dear life, and not for the usual “holding on for dear life” that most nonprofits do as par for the course. These orgs have missions that were once vital, but as needs change, or as other organizations overtake them in effectiveness, or both, they find themselves in denial about their own effectiveness and relevance. They become “zombie missions.” This usually leads to a lack of direction and purpose, perpetual morale issues, and constant staff turnover.

And it is sad, because these orgs have usually done important work; they do not deserve this limbo-like state of existence. Here are things we should consider:

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20 Nonprofit Dad Jokes to Brighten (or Possibly Ruin) Your Day

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Hi everyone, before we get started, here are a couple of cool and free webinars that you can register for. If you’re interested in exploring shared leadership, check out this session on December 1st, led by Ananda Valenzuela and Roshni Sampath, two brilliant thinkers on the subject. Meanwhile, if you need a jolt of energy, join the virtual Nonprofit Day celebration on November 30th; I’ll be delivering a short pep-talk there. Both events are free thanks to various sponsors, and captioning will be available.

I got feedback earlier that Nonprofit AF has gotten a bit too serious over the past few years. You’re right, this blog needs more humor! And what is the highest form of humor? Dad jokes! I hope you enjoy these below. Contribute your own in the comment section or go on twitter with the hashtag #NonprofitDadJokes and add to the fun before Twitter collapses.

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An apology to everyone I harmed with my insensitive words regarding donors and philanthropy

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To my esteemed colleagues,

On a webinar about Donor-Advised Funds that took place on October 19th, 2022, with Susannah Morgan, Ray Madoff, and Chuck Collins, I used words that were deeply offensive and hurtful. Words that included “the rich,” “white,” “hoarding,” “equity,” “SkyMall catalog,” and, most egregious of all, “hobby.” I am here to apologize, take accountability for my thoughtlessness and insensitivity, and humbly ask for your forgiveness.

During this unfortunate presentation, I said something to the effect of, “Philanthropy has often become a hobby for the rich, and it should not be.” I also said that I considered a “family legacy of philanthropy” to be “gross.” I am truly sorry that I uttered such unconscionable words and brought trauma to you, your donors, as well as to anyone near you who may have accidentally caught glimpse of my uttering these vile invectives.

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