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

25 things awesome board members do

beyond-1157000_960_720Hi everyone. A colleague asked me to write about what board members can do to be helpful to staff. Nonprofit board members are critical to the success of organizations. We rely on y’all for so many important things and are deeply grateful for all the time, skills, connections, and resources you give, especially considering that the majority of board members are volunteers.

However, boards are also the direct cause of 39% of brain aneurysms in the sector, according to statistics that I made up. So I asked the NWB Facebook community to help develop a list of what awesome board members do. This is not a list of board roles and responsibilities, which you can google, or find at BoardSource, but actual, down-to-earth, sometimes seemingly minor stuff. One colleague writes this of one of her board members:

When your fundraiser is on the same night as an ice storm, he personally salts the sidewalks and parking lot. Then when all the salt runs out he goes to the gas station down the road and buys more salt to finish the job. He also demands car keys from me and coworker at the end of the night to defrost and scrape our car windows. And somehow in the midst of all that he also pays several hundreds of dollars on an auction item and poses for tons of pictures with the kids. #oneofthebest Continue reading

Hey tech people, stop thinking only you can save the world

laptop-1176606_960_720Human beings are amazing. Our achievements in various fields throughout history, when we are not busy fighting one another, are breathtaking. Our achievements in technology are things our grandparents, and even ourselves, may have never dreamed about. Soon, most of us will be using an app to get fuel delivered to our cars, until we invent a car that runs on water or the omnipresent energy of the universe or whatever, we’ll travel long distances by Hyperloop, and our phones can be charged wirelessly from anywhere by having packets of electricity beamed from satellite. My partner and I just hooked up a smart light switch in our kitchen and can control the light from anywhere using our phones. I’ve been using this technology to scare my toddler into eating his veggies: “If you don’t finish your carrots, the Light Monster will get so angry…”

With technology having such a huge presence in our lives and work, it has become tempting to see it as the solution to all our problems. Every once a while, I start daydreaming about inventing an app, one that would be so successful that it would generate enough income for my organization so that I don’t have to wake up in cold sweat once or twice a month screaming, “Cashflow! Oh God, our cashflow!” Maybe a Tinder-like app, called Fundr, that allows organizations and foundations to quickly and mutually choose one another (“Hm, has leadership development as a priority, focuses on equity, program officer looks friendly. Wait, doesn’t like to pay for staffing? Cute, but obviously clueless. Swipe left.”)

Continue reading

Hey foundation trustees, come get a beer with us

cheers-839865_960_720Hi everyone. You may have noticed that NWB now has ads. I tried to hold out for as long as I could, but with increased traffic comes increased costs to maintain this blog. I’ll try to make sure the ads are as unobtrusive as possible, and maybe even relevant, so be on the lookout for ads for donor management software, wholesale sticky dots, and carpal tunnel braces (#OxfordCommaForever).

Every time I talk to program officers about how to make the funding process more effective and equitable, I often get this response: “Vu, I agree with the stuff you’ve been kvetching about, you unconventionally sexy vegan, you. But…it’s the trustees at my foundation. It can be challenging to convince them to do things differently.” Continue reading