We need to stop treating nonprofits the way society treats poor people

brown-shoes-1150071_960_720During a drink with one of my favorite program officers, I brought up some feedback about how onerous their grant reporting process was. Even though the foundation is really flexible on how the funds can be used, they still ask for exactly how much of each line item the foundation pays for. And their line items don’t line up with ours, so we have to spend significant time translating our budget into theirs. And once the report is submitted, it affects what we report to other foundations, leading to a funding Sudoku that wastes endless hours of my and my team’s time. 

Her response, half-joking and half-serious, was “When you entered the sector, what were you expecting, cake and ice cream?” At that moment, all I wanted to do was weep quietly into my raspberry mojito while Foreigner songs play in my head: “In my liiiiife, there’s been heartache and pain. I don’t knooow, if I can faaaaaaace it again…” Continue reading

Whatever you’re feeling is OK, and the work you do is important

sand-937387_960_720 (1)Hi everyone. It’s been a tough week, as you probably have experienced. I’ve been thinking of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, the police officers in Dallas, and all their friends and families. I’ve also been thinking of the hundreds of innocent people killed by bombings in Baghdad and Bangladesh and other places, and the desperate refugees drowned trying to escape war and poverty. Between the horrific videos, the fights on social media, and our own sense of sadness, anger, and helplessness, it just seems that all our strength and efforts just are not sufficient. The tide of injustice is too strong for us to swim in. Continue reading

Basing pay on salary history is a harmful, borderline-unethical practice that we need to abolish

otter-1438378_960_720Hi everyone, Game of Thrones is done for the year, so I am slightly down, so this post may be a little cranky. I was surfing the Nonprofit Happy Hour Facebook group (which you should totally join, because it’s full of brilliant and hilarious people), and saw that a colleague had asked for advice on how to respond to an online job application that asks for her salary history: “I’m worried I will be shortchanged on my pay because my ‘salary’ has been low, but I have actually provided MUCH more value to my org than that.”

I wrote about this practice of asking for salary history a while ago in “When you don’t disclose salary range on job postings, a unicorn loses its wings.” I believe the practice is archaic and irritating, like codpieces and, in a few years, skinny jeans. Leaders such as the brilliant Alison Green of Ask a Manager also think salary history is ridiculous:

Employers who do this generally claim that they need to know what you’ve earned in the past because it helps them figure out how much you should be earning with them, or so that they can screen out candidates who are earning way more than the position pays and presumably won’t want to take a pay cut. But neither of these reasons holds water. First, companies should be able to determine a candidate’s value for themselves; they don’t need to look to their competitors to tell them a candidate’s worth (and if they really do need to, their hiring process is pretty messed up). And second, if they’re concerned that you’ll be unhappy with the salary they’re offering, they can solve that by posting their range up-front or ask you about your salary expectations rather than salary history. So it’s BS, and it’s BS that’s designed to give them the upper hand in salary negotiations.

After thinking about it these past few months, I’m going further to make the argument that asking for salary history is not just annoying, but actually borders on UNETHICAL and all of us need to put a stop to it immediately. Here are some reasons why all of need to agree to drop this harmful practice: Continue reading

Meta-Equity and the irony of inequity around Equity work

dog-1443465_960_720Hi everyone, before we begin today’s post, look: Get a Beer and Undo Nonprofit Power Dynamics Day (#GABAUNPDD) on July 8th is actually happening. Thanks GEO for organizing an actual event! Please use this historic day to build stronger relationships between program officers, trustees, and nonprofits. I think many of our world’s problems can we solved quicker and more effectively if we get a beer together more often. This is going to be an annual thing. #GABAUNPDD #BestHashtagEver

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One of my favorite words is “meta,” a prefix that allows something to be about or comprising itself. For example, meta-writing could be writing about the process or benefits of writing. Meta-film-making might be making a film about film-making. A meta-presentation is a presentation about how to make effective presentations. It works for everything. We might want to have a meta-meeting to talk about how to make meetings more effective. And we should make a meta-hummus, which is a delicious hummus that is made out of leftover dollops of other hummi. Try to use meta at your next meeting; it’ll make you sound really smart: “Can we do a meta-financial-analysis? I think we’re spending too much money on our financial reviews.”

So today, let’s talk about meta-Equity—the equity around Equity. I have really appreciated that everyone has been paying more attention to Equity, having thoughtful discussions led by qualified trainers, and incorporating Equity into grantmaking, hiring, and other practices (#OxfordCommaForever!). Hell, maybe Equity won’t just be another fad like coconut water, but will actually stick around and become a timeless beverage that will nourish us all, like tequila. Continue reading

Orlando, and why our work matters

blowing-dandelion-tumblr-wallpaper-1Hi everyone, I’ve been thinking about the shooting in Orlando and wanted to share some thoughts. I don’t know if I can say anything that others haven’t already contributed more eloquently and effectively, but writing is a way for me to process and cope when awful things happen, so thank you for reading and for your patience in this possibly rambling and disjointed reflection.

The past few days, I have been exploring gardening with my three-year-old, Viet. He loves to dig up the dirt, even after we placed the seeds in. I reminded him that the seeds are sleeping and that we have to not disturb them. “I want them to wake up, Daddy,” he said, “it’s morning time!” As I watch him scatter kale seeds, I think of all the parents who lost their children in in Orlando. Parents who loved their kids, told them bedtime stories, pulled out their hair trying to get them to eat stuff, traced their tiny hands for a Mother’s Day card, worried over their every sniffle and scratch, felt the bittersweet passage of time as their little ones learned and grew, parents whose worlds are now shattered, who will never get to hug or talk to or laugh with their kids again. Continue reading