How your childhood affects your self-care

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Hi everyone. Happy 2018! Before we begin today’s post: If you are in Seattle, there is a World Dance Party this Friday, January 12th, 6:03pm to 9:07pm at Southeast Senior Center!! Learn a bunch of cultural dances (Tahitian, Filipino, West African, Guatemalan, and other dances), and eat. It’s free and family-friendly. Bring a dish to share (And if you can fill that dish with food, even better!). This event has never failed to restore my faith in humanity.

I don’t write much about self-care, because to be honest I kind of suck at it. For example, it is Sunday night, and I am at my office working on this blog post. I just ate a peanut-butter cookie. That was my dinner. Then, the motion-activated office light turned off, so I stood up and waved my arms around to turn it back on…and got exhausted. Because I don’t exercise. Except maybe when a grant application is due and a colleague drives around the block and I run up to deliver the proposal package.

The worst part, though, is that when I do have some downtime, I can never relax. I get a weird sense of anxiety and guilt, like I need to be doing something productive instead of letting work pile up. I’m sure many of you can relate. So I brought this up to my executive coach. “I can’t relax!” I said, “My brain does not ever rest! It is always analyzing stuff and worrying! Even when I take a day off or am on vacation, it is constantly thinking about work!” I was expecting her to give advice like “You should do meditation to calm your brain, maybe use a mindfulness app, and can you please pay the last invoice?” Instead, she asked this question, “Growing up, did you your parents ever take a vacation?” Continue reading

12 tips to ensure you don’t stab anyone on your first day back from break

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Hi everyone. If you are reading this, it means that 2018 is here, and your holiday break—if you had one—is over. No more stuffing your face with food and binge-watching “The Crown” and “Godless” on Netflix. You must now face the depthless abyss of anguish and despair that is your email inbox, and the half-checked vortex of misery and regrets that is your to-do list.

You’re not alone. If you wish you were back in your warm cozy bed and under a fluffy comforter that seems at this moment like it’s stuffed with puppy snuggles and angel kisses, we can all relate. Most of us feel like crap. Heck, I plan to be surly and scowling this entire morning, starting with today’s staff meeting, led by my Managing Director. If there’s an icebreaker that involves going around the room and sharing New Year’s resolutions or something, I am going to stab someone with a swag pen.

If you’re in a similar state of mind, here are a few tips to ensure that your day, and the start to your year, goes well, and that no one gets hurt in the process. Like with a strategic plan, use what’s helpful, ignore the rest. Continue reading

9 nonprofit-inspired cocktail recipes for your holiday party

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Hi everyone, this will be the last post of the year. I thought about writing a recap of 2017, maybe a list of profound lessons we learned as a sector or something. But that takes way too much thinking and analysis, which I can’t really do after three glasses of Gewürztraminer, the nonprofit of the wine family (sweet, underappreciated, with a hint of bitterness).

So instead, we’re going to talk about cocktails. It’s been a while since we’ve had a follow up to Nonprofit Cocktail recipes. However, since all of us are likely hosting holiday parties, it is a good time to brush up on our mixology. If you’re sick of the boring old eggnog, try these nonprofit-inspired recipes below at your next gathering, and wow your friends and family. Please drink and serve responsibly. Continue reading

How the concept of effectiveness has screwed nonprofits and the people we serve

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Hi everyone. Before we delve into today’s very serious topic, a quick announcement. January 12th is International Nonprofit Karaoke Throwdown Day! Here’s a blog post I wrote on why staff and boards of different nonprofits need to hang out more. Find a nonprofit or two in your area and challenge them to a #NonprofitKaraokeThrowdown. Here, I even crafted an invitation email for you:

“Hey [org(s)], Nonprofit AF has declared January 12th to be International Nonprofit Karaoke Throwdown Day, so we at [your org] challenge your staff and board to a singing contest. This is It, we’ll be Right Here Waiting for You, and Chances Are, You’re Going Down. Sorry Not Sorry.”

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about effectiveness. Last week, Kathleen Enright, the CEO of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) wrote this thought-provoking article. Here’s an excerpt:

“[The] work to define effectiveness has typically come from white organizations – prominent consulting firms, think tanks, universities, philanthropy and management support organizations. These institutions – and I count GEO among them – have advanced ideas about effectiveness that have unwittingly perpetuated or even exacerbated inequity in the nonprofit sector.”

Continue reading

A Call to Inaction: Nonprofits, Give Your Staff a Break

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Hi everyone. Once a while, I do a call to action. For example, if you haven’t written a review of a foundation on Grant Advisor lately, or encourage your grantees to do so, please do it! Grant Advisor is like a Yelp for foundations, and everyone who writes a review gets a basket of gluten-free mini muffins*! (*By gluten-free mini muffins, I mean the joy of advancing our sector by increasing transparency and decreasing power imbalance).

This time, though, I am making a call to inaction. I am giving my team and myself the entire week of Christmas off. If your organization can do it, I strongly recommend you to do that as well (or some alternatives to that, as discussed below). Here are several reasons why: Continue reading