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.Read more
You’ve completed a year’s worth of grants, appeals, social media posts, and e-blasts. Treat yourself for your hard work right now! We need it.
But if you’re working remotely because of COVID-19, you’re probably used to spending all day behind a screen. How can you write conversationally when you’ve gone days without face-to-face contact? Try borrowing some ideas from the art of speech writing!
Public speaking principles are useful because they’re designed to hook audiences, ignite emotions, and pack meaning into a limited time frame. Even if you never step on stage to speak (in-person gatherings? What are those?), your writing will benefit from these principles. Below you'll find some core ideas, how they apply to nonprofit writing, and inspiration from skilled public speakers.Read more
With COVID-19 continuing to plague the state, and the timeline for everyone getting vaccinated still months away, it looks like we will be working from home for the foreseeable future. And I don’t know about you, but working virtually from a one bedroom apartment can sometimes be exhausting. Fortunately, my nonprofit has implemented seven practices for improving our team culture that could transfer to your nonprofit:Read more
For the podcast Sugar Calling, Cheryl Strayed interviews authors during quarantine. In a recent episode, Billy Collins, former Poet Laureate of the United States, read and recited poetry. Collins is a poet who reminds me that I like poetry. In the podcast, he quoted Irish poet Eavan Boland, “Poetry begins where language starts: in the shadows and accidents of one person’s life.”
If ever there was a time that felt like a shadowy accident, it’s now. Thus, I can’t write anything resembling advice. Dozens of COVID-19 think pieces exist or will soon, and I can’t do that to you or to myself. Also, I have no sourdough tips.
So instead of a blog, I’ve written a poem, followed by some poems I enjoy.Read more
What kind of person do you picture when you hear the words board of directors? Take a few seconds and think about it. Now, take out the old white guy you’re imagining, and put yourself in.
Yes, you. Millennials are vastly underrepresented on boards of directors in the nonprofit world—only 17% of nonprofit board members are under the age of 40 (meanwhile, more than half are over 50). While a typical board recruit might be someone with decades of job experience, young professionals have more to offer as board members than one might think.Read more
How effective do you feel in your ability to challenge the power structure? Where do you start? How confident do you feel in characterizing it?
We in the nonprofit sector are some of the most familiar with the consequences stemming from society’s balance of power. We hear the stories of communities most affected, we see the downstream effects of decisions made from remote places. If we are to advance social, racial and economic justice, we need to understand, recognize, and wield the power we have more effectively in our work.
P.S. I don’t have all the answers. But I believe in the premise that everyone can be powerful.Read more
Since becoming a single mom, I realize just how much the nonprofit sector relies on single moms to tell stories of our work, and it’s weird. I’ll admit, I probably didn’t notice this before having this experience myself, but now I cringe when people tell a narrative that aligns with their idea of an experience and not the person’s story. So I thought it would be helpful to write about what it IS like to be a single mom.Read more
One day last fall, I texted my mom, “soooo…. I’m either getting fired or getting promoted.”
I had just gotten out of a meeting where I had the least amount of positional power of anyone in the room, and I had basically told everyone, including my boss’s boss, that the plan we were making didn’t hold true to our values. We weren’t trusting the people we served, and the plan would be flawed without that value at its center. I was calmly furious, my hands were shaking, and I questioned the wisdom of the experts at the table who had been working longer than I’d been alive. The result? My boss and coworkers raved about it, our program staff felt like the values of our work were supported, and we changed our plan.Read more
It is not surprising to anybody in the nonprofit world that we all end up doing a lot more than what our job description initially entailed. In many cases, organizations have too much work to get done with not enough hands to help, so we all end up pitching in. I am the first one to admit that I usually have a hard time saying “no” when my boss asks me to take on extra projects, or to take over projects from other staff members. It took me a long time to be able to say “I’m sorry, but I can’t”. I don’t say it often, but the first time those words came out of my mouth I panicked. What if my boss was mad because I said no? What if they thought I was incompetent?Read more
Is your nonprofit organization required to have a financial statement audit for the first time? If so, the information below will help you gain an understanding of what to do before, during and after the audit.Read more