6 terrifying tales from Nonprofit With Balls’s scary story contest

Halloween-Pumpkins_2560x1600_1192-11Happy Halloween, everyone. I hope you are going to a party tonight. If you don’t have a costume, just remember: As a nonprofit professional, you are automatically a unicorn (see “Nonprofit professionals, you are each a unicorn“).

Thank you to all the NWB readers who submitted entries to NWB’s first-ever Scary Nonprofit Story contest. We received all sorts of tales, about creepy consultants, revenge by volunteers who emailed an org and never got a response, a never-ending festival from hell and the horrible director behind it all, a literal strategic planning nightmare, an org overly depending on volunteer staff, technology that go horribly awry/annoying, a Nonprofit Zone where things seem all right but are not, clueless board members who dismiss every single new idea, and a Frankensteined-together Collective Impact model forced to dance forever.

I just want to say how much the two other judges (a Development Director and a Deputy Director) and I enjoyed these stories. They are hilarious and terrifying. There are many talented writers in our field. It was a very difficult decision, since so many stories were so good. We each independently scored the entries on Creativity, Nonprofit Scariness, and Humor; and the scores were aggregated. If you entered and didn’t win, please don’t be discouraged. The scores are as arbitrary and subjective as…I dunno, most grant awards. Gather you team; I dare you to read these terrifying tales in the darkness of your conference room… Continue Reading…

What the NFL would look like if it were an actual nonprofit

foam fingerAll right everyone, I hope you are all sitting down for this, because I am filled with mild outrage at the National Football League. But first, go Seahawks! Dudes, sweet touchdown at the last minute to beat the Panthers! We all needed that. We’ve been worried about you guys. Welcome back!

But back to the outrage. Apparently, the NFL has for decades been considered a trade association, kind of like a chamber of commerce, and is granted 501c6 status, which makes it a nonprofit. That’s right, the NFL is a nonprofit! Sure, it makes over $10 billion a year and pays its commissioner, Roger Goodell, $44 million in salary last year. But with the 501c6 status, which it gained through some political voodoo in 1966 when it merged with the American Football League, the NFL is tax-exempt.

Now, before you too get upset and punch your cubicle wall with your carpal-tunnel-afflicted hand, here are some facts to consider. First, even though the NFL is considered a nonprofit, its members (the 32 football teams like the Seahawks) are not, so the revenues they make through licensing and swag and stuff are taxed. Second, the NFL often operates at a loss, which you can clearly see on their 990. Heck, in 2012 they were $304 million in the red. You can’t tax a net loss. Removing their tax-exempt status would only recover about $10 million per year in funds, which is still a lot, but not nearly as much as we were all hoping. 

What is mainly annoying me, however, is the fact that the NFL is considered legally a nonprofit. This is ridiculous. That’s like saying that a donkey is a bunny. Or that a hat is a door. Or that a Hershey’s bar is actually chocolate (it is chocolate-flavored sugar). It is insulting to all of us who proudly wear the title “Nonprofit.” Do I go around telling people that I am a dentist? Of course not! Especially not after the last tooth extraction I did on a colleague who didn’t have dental insurance; it did not go as well as Youtube suggested it would. Continue Reading…

Three nonprofit ghost stories to send chills up your spine

halloweenAfter last week’s announcement of the nonprofit scary story contest, readers have started sending me frightful and hilarious entries. They are way more fun to read than emails. Keep them coming. You could win unicorn stickers; or even better, Easy Grants will find a write a grant for your organization. See previous post for details.

As Halloween approaches, we’ll continue to tell scary stories. Last week’s tale about a special event filled with hipsters was enough to induce nightmares in many of us for months. However, if it failed to scare you, here are three stories I wrote guaranteed to make the hairs on the back of your neck to stand on ends. Do not read these by yourself at the office late at night: Continue Reading…

Scary nonprofit ghost stories: The Honey Badger’s Paw

halloween-wallpaper-large013Halloween is coming up, arguably one of the best holidays ever. There is so much that I love about Halloween. The decorations. The smell of apple cider and pumpkin spices. The license to stuff our faces with candy. The fake body parts carved out of homemade seitan, dyed to look bloody, which we then go around eating all night as part of our zombie costume. (What, like you’ve never eaten a bloody fake hand stump that you made out of wheat gluten, cornstarch, and red dye).

However, Halloween has gotten less scary and more slutty. So I say we bring back the tradition of telling scary stories. Gather your coworkers into your conference room, turn out the light, turn on a candle app, and prepare to be chilled by the tale of the “The Honey Badger’s Paw”: Continue Reading…

10 steps for writing a kickass grant proposal

palpatine 2Once a while, when I walk down the street, people would stop me and say, “Vu, how do you manage to be so smart, stylish, and so unconventionally sexy? What is your secret?” And I would say, “Aw, shucks, I dunno, I guess it’s just a combination of luck and shea butter lotion.”

OK, fine, no one has ever asked that. People do, however, frequently ask me for advice on grantwriting.

Now, writing grants to fund nonprofit work is an art as old as time. Archaeologists have found ancients drawings in caves depicting figures hunched over rocks, one hand chiseling, the other hand pulling at hair in obvious frustration at a primitive RFP. They deciphered the chisel marks on the rocks to say, “Making fire good, keep tigers away, help many families. Please see Appendix A for logic model.”

Still, as old a skill as grantwriting is in our field, it is poorly taught. So today, I want to lay down our field’s standard process for writing an awesome proposal. This post is mainly for those who are learning the ropes of grantwriting. If you’re an advanced grantwriter, you can skip this post entirely and read something else, like about how people in our field misuse “literally.” If you’re a novice, just follow these steps below, and you are guaranteed to write kickass, winning grant proposals. (Disclaimer: There is no guarantee that following these steps below will result in kickass, winning grant proposals). Continue Reading…