About

Vu-Le-with-mug-graphic_0Vu Le (“voo lay”) is a writer, speaker, vegan, Pisces, and the Executive Director of Rainier Valley Corps, a nonprofit in Seattle with the mission of developing and supporting leaders of color to strengthen the capacity of communities-of-color-led nonprofits and foster collaboration between diverse communities to effect systemic change. 

Vu’s passion to make the world better, combined with a low score on the Law School Admission Test, drove him into the field of nonprofit work, where he learned that we should take the work seriously, but not ourselves. There’s tons of humor in the nonprofit world, and someone needs to document it. He is going to do that, with the hope that one day, a TV producer will see how cool and interesting our field is and make a show about nonprofit work, featuring attractive actors attending strategic planning meetings and filing 990 tax forms.

Known for his no-BS approach, irreverent sense of humor, and love of unicorns, Vu has been featured in dozens, if not hundreds, of his own blog posts at nonprofitwithballs.com. 

What’s with the name “Balls”?!

You may be thinking, “Why ‘Nonprofit with Balls’? Isn’t that sexist?! Why not ‘Nonprofit with Balls and Ovaries,’ you sexy sexist pig?!” The title comes from an experience he had, described here. Please read that entire post before writing him an angry email. Also, it refers to all the balls that we nonprofit professionals have to juggle: clients, board, staff, volunteers, funders, auditors, payrolls, budgets, cashflows, trainings, annual events, etc. We are all knee-deep in balls. We have balls coming at us from every direction. Sometimes we “drop the ball,” but no worries, since there is never a shortage of balls in this line of work.

When do new posts get published?

There’s a new post once a week on Monday, usually at 2 or 3am, except on holidays, in which case it may be delayed by a day or two. Quality of posts is directly and inversely related to how late he stays up watching Walking Dead or Game of Thrones.

Can I use/repost your stuff?

Absolutely. You can use/repost any of these posts, parts or whole. Just don’t change anything, except minor typos, because he HATES other people editing his work, which he has carefully crafted during commercial breaks of his favorite TV shows. And make sure you credit and link back to nonprofitwithballs.com.

Do you accept guest posts?

At this moment, no. Sorry, it would take time and energy to read submissions and curate others’ work. Vu has very little time, being an ED and a father and a writer, and little energy, being vegan, to do all that at this point. Plus, he doesn’t want to hurt people’s feelings by selecting some posts to publish and not others. This may change in the future.

What can I do to support Nonprofit with Balls?

If you like what you’re reading, please follow this blog by email (click the button on the top right of this page) and tell your friends about it. It’ll motivate Vu to write, since he can be really lazy. Every time there’s a new subscriber, he gets an extra push to write.  Share posts you like. And comment once in a while. He, like all other nonprofit humor bloggers, has very low self-esteem, so your comments and likes keep him writing. Once a while, email him and tell him how awesome the blog or a specific post is. He really appreciates the encouragement. Also, go “like” him on Facebook.com/nonprofitwithballs.

Also, donate to his nonprofit. That helps him freak out less about fundraising, which means he can better focus on writing.

Personal stuff

In his free time, Vu watches way too much TV (Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, Downton Abbey, Breaking Bad, 30Rock, The Golden Girls), spends time with his spouse and kids (a three-year-old and a newborn as of May 2016) during the commercial breaks, and makes fun of hipsters and their ridiculous asymmetrical hair, weather-inappropriate scarves, and skinny-jeans. If you need to contact him, make sure you read this post he wrote called “How to Schedule a Meeting without Being Punched in the Pancreas.”

Speaking engagements

Vu does keynotes, panels, and other speaking gigs and can talk about a variety of subjects: funding dynamics, cultural competency, self-care, unicorns, and what Game of Thrones can teach us about the nonprofit field. Read more info and contact his booking agent at NWBspeaking@gmail.com

  • Steph

    I just discovered this blog and it is amazing! I’m currently getting my Master’s in Public Administration in New York and I’m concentrating in non-profit management and social welfare policy. I’ve worked at several non-profits in different states, and I can relate so well to your posts. Keep up the great work!

    • Vu

      Thank you, Steph. Wow, someone from New York is reading this! I really have no clue how word gets around on the internet. Thanks for reading. And for commenting. You made my day 🙂

  • An Iowa reader/writer/nonprofit E.D. here seconds the appreciation . . . thanks for excellent, insightful, fun writing about the field I love. I also use my work as fodder for entertainment writing, and have added you to the blogroll at Indie Moines, http://indiemoines.com, so I can follow along regularly. (And I got my Master’s in Public Administration in New York, too . . . so maybe that someone prepares us to be receptive to your work!)

    • Vu

      Thank you, JES. I checked out some of your writing, and you’re hilarious. Thanks for spreading the word.

  • (You don’t need to clear this one for public posting, since I’m really not a link whore, but I thought you might appreciate this piece as another key part of the nonprofit experience, for duded . . . http://indiemoines.com/2010/10/02/dressing-up-for-dudes/ )

    • Vu

      That piece was really great, especially the part about how it’s better to donate a kidney than go to a white tie event. I’ve never been invited to one, but I’ll keep your words in mind if I do.

  • Your blog was just shared among about a half-dozen relatively new EDs in the Seattle area, all of whom are stunned and impressed that you can write lengthy, funny posts AND manage ED responsibilities. You clearly rock!

    • Vu

      Thanks Barb. It’s a form of therapy. You should ask those EDs to contact me so I can invite them to ED Happy Hour, the most awesome gathering for EDs ever.

  • Bethany

    I have had fantasies about writing a blog like this. Thanks, and keep it up!

    • Vu

      Thanks, Bethany. No reason why you shouldn’t start. The field is fun and hilarious; we need more people to write about it.

  • Just learned of your blog through BlueAvacado. Love it! I’ve been in the field 30+ years and you are telling my life story. I currently run a nonprofit MSO and we will feature your blog in our newsletters. http://www.AcademyGO.com

    • Vu

      Thanks for reading, and for commenting, Vici! And thanks for featuring NWB in your newsletter. So nice! I already got a couple of new readers from your link.

  • Jaclyn

    Stumbled upon your blog at SVP Seattle site. I could have used some of this humor when I was an ED working in the Bay Area. As a former ED, reading your posts makes me miss the non-profit world, as well as be very grateful to be “ball-less”. As a fellow Vietnamese, I really identify with your occasional “dad” reference. Seriously funny stuff.

    • Vu

      Thank you for the kind comment, Jaclyn. It made my day. Come back to the field. It’s fun!

  • Mina Le

    Vu, you’re clearly a guy with many talents. Thanks for sharing your humour with us, and for making my day a little lighter.

    • Vu

      Thanks for reading, Mina, and for commenting. And for all you’ve done for VFA these past few months. You are awesome.

  • Molly Hanlon

    Vu, you are one of the funniest authors I know – thank you for using some levity what can be a too serious world of non profits. We are also huge fans of Breaking Bad and Games of Thrones. I hope to meet you in person one of these days!

    • Vu

      Thank you so much for commenting, Molly! Let me know when you’d like to get coffee. I will go out to coffee anytime just to avoid work.

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  • Amy Claver

    Hi Vu, your new format is nice! Happy Thanksgiving. I will give thanks for your blog this year. Fondly, your lion-turtle friend in Skokie, Illinois.

    • Aw, thanks, Amy! I’m thankful that you’re reading. Turtle-lions prioritize quality very highly!

  • Karen Kirkwood-Whyte

    Hi Vu! Just discovered you on FB! As a 36-year veteran of this wonderful world of nonprofits, I am really going to enjoy reading – and passing along – your posts to my colleagues!

  • Karen Kirkwood-Whyte

    Forgot to mention, Vu, that you will now be followed – by the newly formed (this past Wednesday) Chatham-Kent Nonprofit Network -in Chatham, Ontario, Canada!

    • Thanks, Karen! It’s nice to meet you, and it made my day to know that some people are reading NWB in Canada!

  • Rachel Kaber

    Vu – I feel I have hit the jackpot! This blog is complete brilliance and I have shared with with my staff in SF. Thank you and please keep writing! Rachel

    • Rachel, aw, thank you. What a sweet message. I really appreciate it.

  • Liz Werner

    Hi Vu – absolutely love your blog and have shared many times with my nonprofit colleagues here in Minnesota. Hilarious and insightful – thank you for writing!

    • Liz, I’m sorry for this terribly late response. Thank you for the encouragement. I’m glad you’re enjoying these ramblings in Minnesota. Thanks for passing the blog on also.

  • sydney schnurr

    Vu, I am enjoying your blog wherever I am. You are just what the doctor ordered after a long day at the nonprofit office. I have shared you with all the unicorns I know.

    • Hi Sydney, what a sweet comment. I really appreciate your reading and sharing and commenting.

  • Amina

    Mr. Vu thanks much for developing and making time to share the world of non profit experience and knowledge. You have inspired me to start a blog as well. Keep the reality check of Non profit going.

    • Amina, thank you for reading and for writing. Let me know what the blog’s URL is, so I can drop by and read your work.

  • Vu – Thanks so much for your blog. I just found it today and I can’t stop reading! I really admire and appreciate the things you say, and the way you say them — both classy and classic. 🙂 I look forward to following your work! Best wishes from Maryland.

    • Aw, thanks, Margaux 🙂

    • Alana Placzkowski

      Oh, Margaux. I’m always about a month behind you. But how much fun to stumble across you here! Vu’s blog almost makes me miss working outside the home. Allllmost.

      • Nah! Vu’s blog gives you everything you would have missed. You’re now complete. 🙂 I hope all is well in MI!

  • Vu – I couldn’t agree more with Margaux O’Malley! I just came across your blog today and and I can’t stop reading! Irreverent. Funny. Educational. Really, just brilliant writing! I look forward to more!

    Cheers,
    Derek
    http://www.writingforgood.org

    • Thank you, Derek. “Brilliant” means a lot coming from another writer.

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  • LiveLaughLove

    can you please put all your posts together into a book. I will buy it!

    • Aw, thanks LLL. I was actually thinking about doing that. Thanks for the great suggestion, and sorry this response is so late.

      • johnfulwider

        Vu, easy posts-into-a-book solution: LeanPub. “With Leanpub, you can import your blog and turn it into an ebook in minutes. We transform your blog into a bunch of plain text files, using a simple format called Markdown. Then you can curate your manuscript, turning your blog into a finished book. It’s like starting a book that’s already more than half written! And since Leanpub lets you publish while your book is still in-progress, you can get relevant and timely feedback on your book, just like you do with your blog.” https://leanpub.com/authors#

        I’ve used it to write four books, including one where I used the blog import tool. Works like a charm. Automagically generates Kindle, Nook, iBooks, and PDF versions. You can sell through the site, or keep it free.

        • John, thank you so much for this! I’ve imported the blog and have started working on editing the content. I really appreciate this tip! I was kind of freaking out a bit about what would happen if for some reason the blog crashes or something. I have no hard copy of these posts! It’s nice to know they’re backed up somewhere.

          • johnfulwider

            Vu, so happy this proved helpful. You’ll find the LeanPub developers super-responsive should you encounter any challenges. Also let me know how I can help. So, when shall we expect to see the book? How about June 30, as a “Happy End of the Fiscal Year” gift to the sector?

    • Michelle Winters

      My boss and I would so buy this book! And our entire HR department. We are all so tickled by this.

      • Thanks, Michelle! You are so sweet. Thanks to yours and others’ encouragement, I’ve started working on compiling the blog posts and editing them into a book.

  • Tom

    Vu – I need some technical support. I want to sign up for your Monday emails, but I am not a unicorn.

    Thank you for straightening this out.

    Tom

    • Hi Tom, if you are in the sector, you are a unicorn! I’ve had readers who could not sign up because their work has strong spam filters. If you don’t get a confirmation email after entering in your email at the upper right corner, you may want to try another email address.

  • Vu, you are my new idol! I am a Latina ED that serves Latina girls and can relate to so much of what you are writing. Thanks for doing it with humor. I love it!

    • Thank you, Luz. What a nice comment. I’m so glad the blog resonates with you. It’s not an easy job, ED. Thanks for all you do.

  • Janet Borg

    Vu, I’m going to Copenhagen in May to study nonprofits and collaboration. What can I bring back for you? It’s the least I can do. And what do you wish you’d looked at more closely when you were there? (besides the excellent beer)

    • Janet, I’m so sorry for this very late response. What a thoughtful offer. I really appreciate. I don’t need anything, especially since things are so expensive there! Let me know if you’d like to meet my friend Peter over there. He’s a really nice guy, a journalist, so he knows everyone.

      • Janet Borg

        Vu, well, I’m sure I’ll run into Peter. I’ll just ask everyone. Perhaps I’ll bring back one of those awesome Flodebollers for you. Kind of goes with the nonprofit with balls theme.

  • Marivic Weathers

    Love your humor. Especially dig the 5 stages of grief after the Super Bowl. I had to grieve myself & wrote about it to help w/ the process…yours is much funnier, though. I will definitely follow your writing as it is as insightful as it is entertaining. marvelista.com/superbowl-only-a-game/

    By the way, have you heard of non-profits calling themselves ‘for purpose’ instead? B/c, it’s not like we aim to produce zero profit, right? But then you’d have to change your blog name to something like ‘balls with purpose’ or ‘purposeful balls’…

    • Hi Marivic, sorry for this late response (I need to check comments on the blog more often!). “For purpose” huh? Hm, this sounds like a great topic to tackle. Honestly, I feel like it’s not the name that’s causing us trouble, it’s a series of interrelated dynamics. For example, we are reluctant to give feedback to funders and donors. Until these dynamics are addressed, it doesn’t matter what we call ourselves.

  • Nicole Vasconi

    I am so happy I found your blog! I saw/read your post on “Trickle Down Community Engagement” from the Animating Democracy newsletter and I really appreciated your words of wisdom. I just graduated with my degree in arts admininstration/nonprofit administration, am in my first position with an arts/nonprofit organization, and am finding your other articles on grant writing so helpful! Thanks and hello from Indianapolis! 🙂

  • Guest

    Woah. This post really hits home for me at the right time. We
    just had a site visit with a super nice program officer for a capacity-building/organizational
    development grant, who said that that we have potential, but their average
    grant is half of the amount we asked for. Looks like Phase 1 can be funded, but
    we’ll have to search elsewhere for Phase 2, not to mention that funding for implementation
    could not be included in the proposal. This
    is coming from a great organization focused on racial equity and community
    building, but unfortunately is fixed on metrics and prerequisite capacity, as
    you mentioned. As a newbie to the sector (and “the real world” of the
    workplace), I’m starting to get a feel for the obstacles embedded within the
    system, besides the hard work and problem solving done on the day-to-day.
    However, it’s encouraging knowing that I’m not alone and that there are many smart,
    resourceful people who can articulate these issues and fighting for
    improvements in the sector. So thanks, Vu, for these funny and well-written
    posts!

    YESSSS more Gen Op
    funds please!!!!

  • Cathy Valdez

    I love your outlook! I want the nonprofit CEOs here in San Antonio to start a band so that we can call ourselves “The 501c(3)s”!!!!! But that would mean I’d actually have to first find frustrated musicians like me that are nonprofit CEOs! Anything is possible!

  • Anna

    Hi Vu, Thanks so much for your writing – just what I needed to remind me that none of us are actually miracle workers. You’re writing made me smile and laugh about my own work, which was so very much needed. Keep writing – your book will be a best seller and solve all your sustainability and funding issues – hopefully that won’t cause any writers block!! 😉

  • Puja Mitra

    this is the most brilliant blog/site I have come across…really need it to keep my sanity while floundering around this sector!!

  • Carina Andrea Tomietto

    Hilarious….please keep writing….forever!

  • Alison Brewin

    Yes please re the book thing

  • Spence Halperin

    I just found you! Great site!

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  • Peggy Hilden

    Hi Vu, love all of your thoughtprovoking comments – thank you for shaking up the field. Check out The Pollination Project – we are trying to do something similar with the Foundation community.

  • Patty Lyons

    My friends in the non-profit world also think that a TV show should be made about non-profits. There could be a whole season on boards!!

  • Judy Takacs Pendergast

    “Balls” caught my eye, because I have a blog and a long term art project which uses the word “Balls” metaphorically, symbolically and literally…because of all the images it conjurs up. It’s called, “Chicks with Balls: Judy Takács paints unsung female heroes”, and I’ve gotten banned, questioned, misunderstood and labeled sexist…when I’m as big a feminist as they come, in fact the whole project couldn’t be MORE of a feminist, feel-good, female empowerment thing! I enjoyed reading your blog, and your whole mission to make the non-profit world a cooler one, maybe you’ll like my blog too!
    chickswithballsjudytakacs.blogspot.com

  • Susan Zakin

    GREAT. I’ve been waiting for somebody to say ALL of these things. Excellent-o.

  • Anna

    I love your blog but have unsubscribed because I find the “with balls” part offensive. Yeah, yeah, cute story about what you mean by balls. But you are also clearly benefiting from the idea that doing something with balls connotes guts and strength — and I am tired of confronting the hypocrisy every time one of your incredibly insightful posts hits my inbox. If I started a blog called “white trash” because, literally, I had the idea for the blog while I was looking at a trash can containing several items, all of which were white….that story, which few people would take the time to read, would not make my URL less offensive.

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  • blawton

    Downton Abbey is done. Now what?

  • Kelly McPhee

    Schmoopie thank you for your blog, suggested to me by my Dir of Dev <3 Can you do me a fave and correct this typo: "Once IN a while, email him and tell him how awesome the blog or a specific post is."

    P.S. You are awesome.

  • Cristina

    Oh my goodness; I laughed out loud about 6 times reading this post alone – which is both a feat and a bit of an issue because everybody in the house is sleeping… again (What’s wrong with normal people?) Vu, you got a new subscriber, right here, right now. Keep up the good work.

  • I was referred to an article here by a lady in a group I’m in (Nerdy Girls, the Tulsa Chapter) and I love it! You’ve got a new subscriber here, thanks for the laughs! P.S. I love the name. 😉

  • Rian

    This is fabulous! I haven’t even read any of your posts, but the about section makes me love them already. Thank you for cheering me up on this lonely night of Saturday night work.

  • LOL

  • LOL very funny post.

  • Craig Zelizer

    Great to meet you at the Impact Fellowship summit. Have been reading your writing for a while and find it consistently inspiring, grounded, humane and humorous (no easy feat).