Waiting for unicorns: The supply and demand of diversity and inclusion

unicorn memeThe question I am asked most frequently—after “Vu, have you tried using Proactiv?”—is “Vu, would you consider joining so-and-so board/committee? If not, can you connect me to other leaders of color who might be interested?” Apparently, everyone is having a hard time finding people of color for their board of directors and 80’s-karaoke-night planning team.

There are tons of reports and articles with depressing statistics about diversity in nonprofit leadership at all levels. Here’s an eye-opening article called “The Nonprofit Sector Has a Ferguson Problem,” which cites several stats that make me want to stay in bed streaming Netflix for the rest of the year:

  • only 8% of board members are people of color,
  • nearly a third of nonprofit boards don’t have a single board member of color
  • only 7% of CEO/EDs are people of color
  • only 18% of nonprofit staff are people of color
  • only 5% of philanthropic orgs are led by people of color

Continue reading

Bunnycorn!! (Unicorn-Bunny hybrid!)

bunnycornHi everyone. Apparently I’m having some technical difficulties with the blog. Most NWB email subscribers did not receive notice of the latest post by email. One reader received it, but it was way late in the evening.

This is a test post to see if you’re getting email notice of new posts. (It’s a bunnycorn! Extreme cuteness combined with total awesomeness! It’s kind of like all of us in the nonprofit field).

OK, I’m trying to get this fixed. In the meanwhile, please check out this week’s post. “Why we should rethink Accountability as an organizational and societal value.”

PS: Dear Santa, I want a bunnycorn for Christmas…

Why we should rethink Accountability as an organizational and societal value

bald-eagle-wallpapers-flightEvery once a while we nonprofits have a retreat to select or reevaluate organizational values. Invariably during the brainstorming, someone will scream out “Accountability!” and feel very proud for thinking up such an awesome value, and others will nod their heads in agreement. Accountability has become as American as organic gluten-free non-GMO apple pie. Which is why politicians use it all the time. If I ever decided to run for public office, my speech will probably go something like this: “Middle class! Small businesses! Flag! Patriotism! Accountability! America! Bald Eagle! Accountability! Vote for me!”

But every time I hear it, it grates on my nerves. Sure, at first it sounds great. I mean, who doesn’t like it when people do what they say they’re going to do and take the consequences for their mistakes and failures. But as we look closer, Accountability sucks as a value, and society’s focus on it has led to more bad than good. Consider: Continue reading

The Baker’s Dilemma and the inequity of restricted funding

chefHi everyone, before we begin this week’s discussion, I just want to point out that this Thursday, 2/19, is the Lunar New Year, a very huge and important holiday in many Asian countries. There are some things you need to do—get a haircut, clean out your car—to ensure your year starts off right (See “Tet: What it is, and 10 things you need to do for it.”) I encourage you to take at least Thursday off if you can, since to work on that day is extremely culturally insensitive. Do you want to offend billions of people in the world? Of course not. Wear something red and take a day off.

Today, I want to talk about unrestricted funding. A couple of weeks ago, Paul Shoemaker published this piece speaking against what he calls “Quite Damaging Dollars” (QDD), funds that come with burdensome restrictions and are not just unhelpful, but actually detrimental to nonprofits’ work.

Paul and I once had a “Fireside chat” in front of an audience of 80 funders, and we drank and riffed on the merits of general operating funds and cultural competency. I don’t remember exactly what we said, because there was no vegan food there, but the wine was vegan, so that’s all I had for dinner. I think I said something along the lines of, “I love you funders—you’re so shiny!—but can you please stop restricting funds? Where am I? Shoemaker, ‘sat you?” (This may explain why I haven’t been invited to many of his org’s events lately). Continue reading

“I Can Write the Saddest Grant Proposal Tonight” and other nonprofit love poems

heartsHi everyone. OK, I think I’ve almost recovered from the Seahawks’ Super Bowl defeat. I can now eat Skittles without bursting into tears. All of you were very helpful throughout this grieving process, giving gentle encouragement like “Get over it! It’s a ridiculous football game!” and “Ha ha, your team lost! Go Patriots!” (If you haven’t joined the NWB Facebook community, you’re missing out on daily hilarity and unicorn jokes.)

Valentine’s Day is coming up this week. Last year, I wrote “Nonprofit professionals, you are each a unicorn,” sort of a Valentine to all the dedicated, smart, and highly attractive people in our field. This year, I thought I would try poetry. Below are three love poems dedicated to various people in the sector. I hope they inspire you. Happy Valentine’s Day, you sexy nonprofit muffins, you. Continue reading