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We are not family: Debunking a capitalist myth in nonprofit organizations

In one of my first nonprofit jobs, I worked for a small organization. In my interview I remember being told that the staff was so close that they were like a family. As a recent college graduate just starting my professional career, I was excited by this idea. What could be better than a group of passionate advocates caring so much about creating social change in our community that they are brought together like a family? Unfortunately, I quickly learned that they were in fact like a family – an extremely dysfunctional and problematic family. This “family” narrative didn’t make it easier for me to connect with my job - it gave the higher-ups license to gaslight the staff making it harder to call out issues within the company.  Since it was an organization steeped in white supremacy culture, anyone who spoke up was villainized. The treatment of the BIPOC staff was worse.

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Proposals For Doing Nonprofit Storytelling More Ethically and Equitably

As a white Minnesotan and American, I feel I must acknowledge this blog is being published shortly after eight women, six of whom were Asian, were murdered in a mass shooting in Georgia (if you haven’t already read it, the YNPN-TC statement is available here). Rather than thinking of this as an isolated tragic incident, we must recognize what UMN Professor Erika Lee testified to Congress on Friday: “...unfortunately, [anti-Asian discrimination and racial violence] is very American.” 

White Americans have stood by and benefited as Anti-Asian and xenophobic rhetoric have been strategically weaponized throughout our nation’s history. To support and stand with Asian communities now, we must feel an individual and collective responsibility to vocally reject and condemn anti-Asian racism, to intervene in and report any instances of xenophobia and racism we witness, and join with others to change the white supremacist culture and institutions that allow this hatred and violence to continue. Only then could we hope to declare violence against Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders “un-American”.

As I discussed in my earlier blog, I chose to do my final research for my strategic communication masters on the need for ethical/equitable storytelling practices for communicators due to questions that have come up during my career about the power and responsibility I hold as a nonprofit communicator. When I’ve talked to other communicators, I found others who (like me) have an uneasy feeling about the way our sector takes an individual’s words and story, repackages it, and then uses it as a story of our organization’s success. However, as I’ve had these conversations, I have found that many of these individuals are no more certain than me about what to do about this. How can we create the types of short and tight stories and messages we need in today’s fast-past social media world while also sharing everything an individual wants in a story? Additionally, even if we are convinced, how can we get buy-in from our supervisors and organizations?

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Our Opposite Future

I’ve heard the writing advice that to emphasize a moment in a scene, spend more time on it. I’ve found myself digging into the pieces of my day that are different from pre-COVID times, the parts I’ve come to love that are slower and more deliberate. I’m spending more time thinking about these moments, in anticipation that they will likely go away or evolve into something else.

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Tips to working from home

I’d be willing to bet you’re reading this from home. As you should be! It’s a strange and uncertain time for all of us right now, and although we’ve all had routine changes and things that have flipped our day-to-day inside out, we still have to work. 

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We want your blog

main.jpgHave you always wanted to write a blog but didn't know where it could be published? If so, you should sign up to be an YNPN-TC blog writer!

We hear all the time from people across the country (and even people across the world!) that love the YNPN-TC blog, so this is a great opportunity to get your name and ideas in front of a whole variety nonprofit professionals. 

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Calling all blog writers

main.jpgDo you have an opinion about something we don’t talk about on the YNPN-TC blog? If so, you should sign up to be an YNPN-TC blog writer!

We hear all the time from people across the country that love the YNPN-TC blog, so this is a great opportunity to get your name and ideas in front of a whole variety of people. 

Still undecided? Here are answers to some of the questions we most often get:

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Reader's Choice: What Would You Like to See on the Blog?

So you’ve got an idea for a blog post. Well, it’s not quite a fully formed idea yet. More like a thought you had in passing while brushing your teeth the other morning. You saw something that made you think, someone ought to write a blog about that. Or you don’t have a blog idea in particular, but would like to learn more about a subject.

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