A nonprofit professional’s letter to Santa


Dear Santa,

Some people say that you don’t exist. But I know you do, just like I know that equity and social justice exist. I am a nonprofit professional. I get to spend my time making the world better and writing reports. I love my job, but it can be tough. This year, for Christmas, I made a list of things I would like from you, if you think I’ve been nice and not naughty. I know you’re very busy, Santa, with so many people asking stuff from you, but even a few of these things below will help me out a lot and will make my work easier.

Things I would love for Christmas:

This sweet carpal tunnel brace! A lot of my work involves writing emails, grants, and reports. This brace would be extremely helpful, Santa! If you could spare it, please get the family-size box of carpal tunnel braces so everyone on my team could have one too.

This kickass printer/copier! Most of us nonprofits have printers that are older than our interns. Mine is held together with electrical tape and always fails at the worst possible moments, like right before a board meeting or site visit. This new printer is wireless and can print from my phone, and it does 2-sided printing! Santa, I would be able to have a logic model on one side, program budget on the other! That would be so cool and useful!

Membership to this magical Wine of the Month club! If you could time it so the wine arrives around the third Monday of each month, when I have my board meeting, or around the second Thursday, when I have my finance committee meeting, I would appreciate it very much! (A third bottle for the annual event planning meeting would be great too).

This awesome 401K account! My business friends talk about 401Ks all the time. Like “holiday bonus” and other business concepts, I’m not really sure what a 401K is. But I think I want one. I’m getting older, and I’m starting to worry about retirement. But, Santa, you’ll be so proud: I’ve been saving consistently each month! In the last five years, I’ve managed to save up almost $946 dollars in my 403b! I’m hoping, with compound interest, I’ll be able to retire at 80 and maybe share a house in India with three other retired nonprofit professionals.

This empty email inbox! Santa, you visit millions of houses in one night; can you use some of that magic to answer all my emails?!!! I have, at this moment, literally 1,755 emails in my inbox, with more coming each day. I am almost ready to declare email bankruptcy. If you can’t help with this, please put a stack of paper bags in my stocking, so that I can breathe into them and prevent hyperventilating whenever I check my email accounts.

This I Ching fortune-telling kit! I’ve heard a lot of good things about this ancient Chinese divination system. I don’t know how it works, exactly, but it may be helpful in figuring out where my organization’s sources of revenues for the next fiscal year may be coming from.

This ergonomic chair! My current chair was donated by another nonprofit and is eight years old. Imagine how awesome my grants and reports would be if I get to write them in this new chair! Sigh…nevermind, Santa, my office wouldn’t have room for this chair. Any chair that is not from Craigslist and won’t warp my spine will do.

A universal grant application and standardized budget template! Santa, oh please oh please get funders to create sensible grant application forms with a standardized budget template. This would be so awesome and would save us nonprofits so much time. Especially the budget template. I have my own budget form, which I have to translate into five or six other budget templates depending on the foundations. Some foundations want to know how many pencils I will be buying, while others don’t care. If you could get them to agree on one form, I would be grateful forever.  

This cool unicorn wine holder! Just look at this cheeky little unicorn! It is so cute, Santa! Unicorns are the symbol of us nonprofit professionals, and this is such a playful yet practical item for my desk. I would use it all the time and treasure it always and pass it down to my grandkids.

A sensible loan forgiveness program! I know there’s the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, but it is confusing and very restrictive. You have to make all 120 on-time payments while full-time in the public sector. If you can’t get my loans forgiven, can I have this classic painting of Sisyphus? I can sell it on eBay to pay off 5% of my student loans. 

Complete sustainability for my nonprofit! Maybe you can help my teeth tattoo parlor, which my organization is exploring opening as an earned-income strategy, to be wildly successful. Or maybe you can get my “Sriracha Challenge” to go viral like the Icebucket challenge. Or a $500million dollar endowment bequest. I could just use the interest to run my programs forever!

Perfect world peace, justice, and equity. Santa, you can ignore everything I said up to now if you can just make this happen. If you can just make it so that none of us nonprofits are needed again, that would be so awesome. I know, that means all of us in the field would lose our jobs, but that’s OK. We’re all very talented. I’m a pretty decent manager. I’ll find my way. Maybe I can run a Starbucks. I’ve started learning how to beatbox also, since a perfectly equitable world will still need its artists.

Thank you so much, Santa. I hope that you have a wonderful holiday season. I left you some wine and hummus on the conference room table.  


A nonprofit professional

PS, Santa: Some of my friends are too busy helping people to write you a letter, so they asked me to ask for some things for them. If you have time, would you provide these things for all of us in the sector? Health benefits. An occasional pedicure. Board members who rock…or who does at least the minimum. New carpet for our office. A Development Director and administrative staff. A month in one of those huts in Fiji. A button to expand time and/or the ability to clone ourselves. An ED who does his/her job. A fair tax system to finance things our communities need so we nonprofits spend less time cleaning up the mess. Fewer angry donors. Heat! Heat in the office this winter! Time to find someone special. Paid family medical leave. A “holiday bonus,” ooh that sounds so mysterious and cool. Stacks of easel paper and thousands of sticky dots. A better CRM. A professional development budget over eight dollars. A phone that translates “while your proposal is strong, we had far more applicants than dollars to grant” into ACTUAL reasons we didn’t get funding. A new used car, or for new brakes on existing cars. And a radar or app with an alarm that sounds like George Takei saying “OHHH MYYYY…” whenever high-capacity donors are nearby.


Make Mondays suck a little less. Get a notice each Monday morning when a new post arrives. Subscribe to NWB by scrolling to the top right of this page and enter in your email address.

  • anne ellinger

    You are the best! I laughed so hard. All true. Painful. Well said. Now, who can I forward this to who hasn’t already subscribed?…

  • Javy Womeldorff

    Oh oh I really want the radar or app with George Taekei’s voice. That would quantitatively make me cooler than everyone else.

  • nickdico

    Nailed it! Can I get a lunch not at my desk/ in the car driving to a donor/ or replaced with coffee in 2015, Santa? Pleeeease!?

  • I don’t know how you have the time to be so funny, but I’m very appreciative! I’d be happy to come over and eradicate your in-box.

  • It is the season of magic and miracles. May all your Santa wishes come true! Now, all of you nonprofit professionals — take note! You cannot do a good job of taking care of others’ needs without taking care of your own. An ergonomic office chair and a healthy, relaxing lunch are good starts…:-)

  • Patricia Garza

    Oooo the carpal tunnel brace is actually a bit fashion forward unlike the one I have to wear now. Thanks for the tip!

  • Pax Bennett

    I could eat a shovel full of Sriracha. …Or hummus.