15 poems about nonprofit that will move, anger, and inspire you

road-1226873_960_720Hi everyone. Thank you to all who participated in NWB’s first-ever nonprofit poetry contest. This weekend, the two other judges (Nate Thomas of Rainier Beach Action Coalition, and Rainier Valley Corps Fellow, and Jody Schreffler of Nonstop Wellness, the contest’s sponsor, who is providing the cash prizes) and I spent hours reading through the 260 entries we received. We had no idea what to expect, but we all left this experience feeling grateful and inspired, even moved.

Some of the poems were hilarious. Some were bitter. Some were hilarious and bitter. Others were touching. A few were hysterically crass or vulgar. Many poems taught us a something new, made us think. Clearly we have a lot of talented poets in our sector, with many of us sublimating our artistic talents so we can keep our organizations and programs running.

This was an incredibly difficult task to choose 3 winners among the 260. At the end, we chose poems that revealed a glimpse into our sector, that made us think and feel some sort of emotion, that haunted us, even if we don’t agree with the content. They are below, after a list of honorable mentions. Nate, Jody, and I admit that our system is not perfect, and that if we reread the entries again, our reactions to the poems may change completely. That’s the wonderful nature of poetry though, in that different poems affect us differently in different times and circumstances. So if you don’t see your poem below, please know that this is not a reflection on how awesome you are. There were many beautiful poems that are not included here. It was a tough and painful decision, and the judges didn’t agree on everything. What we all did agree on, though, was how grateful we are that you took time from your work of making the world better to share your art with us. Continue reading “15 poems about nonprofit that will move, anger, and inspire you”

Capacity Building 9.0: Fund people to do stuff, get out of their way

gulls-343235_960_720Some people think capacity building is boring. Well, I think it’s sexy, and I’ve spent many hours writing romantic poems about it: “Can Love’s arrows seek truest rapture/Without the quiver of Infrastructure?/Can e’er Equity take flight and sing/Save with steadfast Capacity ‘neath her wings?” (What, like your hobbies are SOOO much more interesting).

Since most of my work is now focused on building capacity of communities-of-color-led nonprofits, I’m glad that there seems to be a new resurgence of people talking about capacity building. Here’s a great paper from Grantcraft with cool concrete recommendations for funders  including a brief discussion on the importance of general operating funds for capacity building. And here’s one from the TCC Group on what they call “Capacity Building 3.0.” According to this briefing paper, Capacity Building 1.0 is about individuals, Capacity Building 2.0 is about nonprofit institutions, and 3.0 is about the entire nonprofit ecosystem, which includes funders, businesses, even the government.

These white papers are all written by very intelligent people who have thought long and hard about the critical role that capacity building plays in our ability to do our work. After reading through them and other articles on the topic, I want to offer some reflections and recommendations. Continue reading “Capacity Building 9.0: Fund people to do stuff, get out of their way”

“I Can Write the Saddest Grant Proposal Tonight” and other nonprofit love poems

heart-700141_640pdHi everyone. OK, I think I’ve almost recovered from the Seahawks’ Super Bowl defeat. I can now eat Skittles without bursting into tears. All of you were very helpful throughout this grieving process, giving gentle encouragement like “Get over it! It’s a ridiculous football game!” and “Ha ha, your team lost! Go Patriots!” (If you haven’t joined the NWB Facebook community, you’re missing out on daily hilarity and unicorn jokes.)

Valentine’s Day is coming up this week. Last year, I wrote “Nonprofit professionals, you are each a unicorn,” sort of a Valentine to all the dedicated, smart, and highly attractive people in our field. This year, I thought I would try poetry. Below are three love poems dedicated to various people in the sector. I hope they inspire you. Happy Valentine’s Day, you sexy nonprofit muffins, you. Continue reading ““I Can Write the Saddest Grant Proposal Tonight” and other nonprofit love poems”