Appreciation for all the nonprofit professionals working this week

[Image description: A heart made out of about twenty small, tan-colored pieces of wood or stones of different sizes. It is hollow in the center, like a ring. There is a piece of string at the top, suggesting that this may be an ornament. The heart is on a very light blue, almost white background]

Hi everyone. This message will be short, because I am off all of this week. Also because I stuffed myself with dark chocolate and hard pear cider. Many of us are taking a break this week, and if you can, I hope you are too. The work we do is unrelenting, often heartbreaking. But we cannot be our most effective if we do not take time to recharge. If you have the authority, and it is possible, give your team this week off. It costs little, and the return to the organization in morale and future productivity is tenfold.

All of us who can, let’s lay down our burdens for a few days. Let’s watch our favorite shows. Bake cookies. Sleep. Let’s spend time with the people we love and remember why we do this work.

I know, though, that that is easier said than done. While many of us are resting this week, there are lots of you out there working. You run food banks and shelters and emergency services. You answer calls on suicide hotlines. You check in on seniors who may not have family nearby. The need for these services often increases during the holidays, and not only do you not get a break, but you may be working even harder than you normally do.

Some of you are development professionals, and this is a busy time for you. Remittances are coming in. Acknowledgements must be sent out. Final pushes for donations during the last few days of the year. You stuff envelopes, write personal notes, and wait anxiously to see if goals are met.

And some of you have other pressing duties to attend to, reports and grant proposals and other critical duties to ensure the organization functions.

I just want to let you know, that if you are working today, I am thinking of you, and I am grateful for all you do. It makes a difference. Today, I watched my children open presents, the nine-month-old fighting to eat bits of wrapping paper. And it makes me appreciative of the people in our sector.

27 years ago, my family came to the US. It was around this time of the year when we arrived, and the cold of the city of Philly reflected the feeling of loss and loneliness we felt. We didn’t speak much more than a few words of English, and everyone we knew was thousands of miles away. It was a rough time for my family, trying to rebuild our lives, desperately cobbling together some sense of community. People gave us food. We got clothing and toys. We got coats and pots and pans. People helped my parents learn English and find jobs. They hooked us up to a sponsor family, who fed us our first pizza and took us to see The Nutcracker.

I did not know then, but I know now, that many of the people who helped us worked in the nonprofit sector. I don’t even know any of their names, or the names of the organizations where they worked. I don’t know how to thank them.

Instead, well, let me thank you, especially those of you who are working this week. Because what we do is so relentless sometimes, you may not have time to consider just how much of an impact you have on the world. You restore hope for those who may have lost it. You build community. You help kids and families. And maybe one of those kids will grow up and be inspired by your actions to go into this sector and become a sexy vegan nonprofit professional, who knows.

If you can this week, take a guilt-free break. You deserve it. If you can’t, find some time later to rest and recharge. Either way, you have my appreciation for all the work you do. It matters more than you may know.

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. Also, join the NWB Facebook community for daily hilarity.

Donate, or give a grant, to Vu’s organization, Rainier Valley Corps, which has the mission of bringing more leaders of color into the nonprofit sector and getting diverse communities to work together to address systemic issues.

Also, join Nonprofit Happy Hour, a peer support group on Facebook, and if you are an ED/CEO, join ED Happy Hour. These are great forums for when you have a problem and want to get advice from colleagues, or you just want to share pictures of unicorns. Check them out.

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  • betty barcode

    Knock it off, Vu, you’re making me cry.

  • Terre Thomas

    Thanks Vu. I am working and your appreciation made me get teary too. Thanks for your gift of connecting us, every Monday, to the wonderful and often ridiculous purposefulness of our work. You’re a gem 🙂 Terre Thomas, Small Sums, Mpls, MN

  • Tova Perlmutter

    I’m working too, and very grateful for your kind words. I feel very privileged to do the work I do, but it definitely helps to be appreciated. Enjoy your time with the adorable kidlets!

  • Deanna Pitt Tharpe

    I was going to work today but realized after reading your post that I probably should play some mindless games on my computer, shock people on Facebook with pictures of our blizzard, and definitely catch up on anything I missed on Netflix this past 6 months. Does anyone really care if I make a deposit tomorrow or Friday? And I bet my board would LOVE to NOT get an updated strategic plan document until after Jan 2nd. Now…back to solving puzzles and enjoying high level drama. (a different kind than I do in my ED job)

  • Cheryl Slavin

    Hi Vu. Thank you for the acknowledgment. I’m working today and ok with it. I kind of like the quiet. Appreciate your thoughts.

  • Thomas Slager

    Thanks for the permission to relax, Vu. We here in Chatham are taking your advice to heart. I’m putting in one day today and then taking a mind break.

  • Emily Milner

    I’ve been having such issues getting out of bed this week to go to work, knowing that all of my peers are taking this week off and enjoying their rest. I’ll admit, I was a little bitter this morning about it.

    But this helped. I have a vacation planned for next week, because I HAVE to work through to the new year. But, then i get my rest. And I know I can make it until that rest.

  • Tarn

    Happy holidays to Vu and all of you unicorns! This blog and community have been so helpful and comforting, especially this year as I rather rapidly transitioned from the program side of things into the fundraising world. I am thankful for every one of you and the work you do to make our world a better place, as well as your willingness to share your successes, challenges, and insights.

    Our community involvement manager, who ran the Holiday Hope Drive, overseeing the donation of thousands of toys, clothes, and other in-kind gifts this past month, told me “You’re going to hate me…there’s so much data entry and thank yous that are going to keep you busy due to all this craziness.” And yes, I have to admit the work is somewhat tedious, but I’ve had moments of pure joy too, realizing that every single one of the seemingly never-ending stack of gift tags is from someone that wanted to give of themselves, someone who wanted someone else to experience a joyful holiday season. What better problem to have than to be overwhelmed with processing gifts from generous souls to people in need?

  • Natalie Ta

    Happy Holiday to you and your family!

  • Mary Alina

    What a beautiful message – brought tears to my eyes! Thank you Vu!

  • Melissa C.

    In tears for your family’s story, that you don’t know who to thank, and that you are sending out massive gratitude. Thank YOU!

  • Carol Clarke

    This sexy vegan-wannabe nonprofit professional is working this week, and your sentiments are well received, thank you. Most of the office staff are away, so I have a couple of days to leisurely catch up – that in itself is a gift. All the best to you, Vu, and your beautiful family.