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…

3 reasons we all need to go to more happy hours

Happy-HourLast week I went to Boise, Idaho to give a keynote speech. And to eat an Idaho potato in its native setting, which is number 37 on my bucket list. (What, like your bucket list is so much more interesting). Boise is a lovely town, and I think my speech, titled “Happy Hour: A Tool for Social Justice,” went over pretty well with the crowd of 300-or-so friendly Idahoans. It was 45 minutes of profound concepts mixed with hilarious nonprofit jokes like “Why did the ED cross the road? So he could hand-deliver a grant proposal while one of his staff drives around the block…” You know what, you had to be there.  (See “8 Classic nonprofit jokes to tell at parties.”)

Anyway, it would be cruel to make you read the entire 7-page, 5,000-word speech. So I’ll just summarize the main points, the chief of them being that we all need to get out of our office more often, because happy hour is not just about getting a drink with some colleagues. It is a tool for social justice, and the fate of the world may just depend on it. Continue Reading…

All right, you guys, we need to talk about nonprofit salaries

54557587Last month, one of my friends told me she was making 70K as a waitress at a fancy restaurant. She quit because she didn’t find it satisfying, and took a pay cut to work as a community organizer. I wept softly into my soy hot chocolate. 70K was way more than I was making as an ED with rapidly greying hair and daily night terrors.

Most of us who entered the nonprofit field didn’t do so because of the Benjamins. We knew, when we decided to dedicate our lives to making the world better, that we would not likely be able to afford a huge house with a pool. Or trips abroad every year. Or private school for our kids. Or maybe healthcare. Or organic blueberries at $6 per pint. Gawd, that’s like fifty cents a berry! Seriously, are organic blueberries watered with unicorn tears?!

Sorry, where was I? Yes, we knew what we were getting into. There are tons of reasons why nonprofit work is so awesome (See “10 reasons nonprofit work is so awesome”), and not one of those is a huge pay. Unless you include unlimited hummus at meetings as part of wages. Continue Reading…