Essay Archives

OMG, stop giving us your old garbage: On creating a community-centered donation policy for your org

A 25-year-old can of soup was an honored relic at a food bank that I worked at — every food bank probably has one. Before each volunteer shift, the volunteer coordinator would go through the instructions for sorting through the industrial size cardboard boxes full of canned and dried donated goods. The shining star of this repetitive presentation was the quarter century year old can that sat on a special shelf next to her office.

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Zoinks! Like, is burnout at it again? Orrr is there a new villain in town?

Throughout the week I have been hearing these mysterious stories of tiredness, crying fits under blankets, graying and thinning hairs, and general anxiety over work. All of it just sounds like there is a monster chasing us around. For example, have you ever wanted to take a nap during work hours but felt that you couldn’t because eyes were following you? It seems that this conundrum is an illusion because we are often quick to blame ourselves for not getting enough rest.

Well, what if I told you that you should be blaming your employer and the work culture that we’ve been systematically programmed to believe in — rather than yourself?

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3 learnings from BIPOC communities that have made me a better nonprofit leader

As first generation Asian Canadians, my parents always worked blue collar jobs — from housekeeper, warehouse worker, health care worker, and everything in between. Because of this, growing up, I never had role models in fields like “the nonprofit sector” and certainly not jobs like “executive director.” The nonprofit sector — the idea of working in a sector that doesn’t aim to generate large profits — was so foreign to my parents, Especially since they grew up poor in their home country and then came to Canada for the dream to thrive and be successful.

So seeing their only daughter work in a sector that didn’t fulfil their dream was a bit unexpected for them.

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Why does equitable need-based pay make white folks so scared?

“I’m writing an article about how to start offering equitable pay and I’m remembering an organization that had every person’s salary band start the same, regardless of their position, and had it based on need (those with more dependents earned at the higher end of the band, those without generational wealth, earned at the higher end, etc). But I can’t, for the life of me, remember the name of the organization or where I saw it. Can anyone offer guidance?”

This is what I asked three different groups as I set out to research something for my last article “Underpaid staff don’t need motivation, they need dollar bills and benefits.”

I asked because I knew I had heard of an organization doing just this and assumed I had heard it in one of these three groups. It was a straightforward question, and I expected a straightforward answer.

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Stop the sabotage: Why Millennials like us must add chairs at the table for Gen Z

Friends. I am turning 40 this summer. I am milleniOLD. An elder millennial. Some might say a geriatric millennial — which is just rude, y’all. I still feel young, despite listening to chats that my children — both born after 2010 and currently categorized as Gen Alpha —— have songs and trends and technology that I’m completely clueless about.

Sometime in the last decade, I went from being one of the youngest people in the room to one of the oldest. I did not realize this shift had occurred until recently, when I was on a Zoom with a client. During an icebreaker, we all had the chance to share one of our favorite teenage/coming-of-age movies.

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How I achieved MY version of emotional sustainability

For a long time in past jobs, early in my career, a bad day meant needing to go back to college career fairs. There, after trying to deliver a just-decent elevator pitch to the few companies who could sponsor international students, I’d always stumble upon two groups I hoped to avoid…

I remember, whenever I encountered either of these two groups, I needed to pause, almost always, for a few hours after the job fair to probe and ask myself: Hmm, what else am I missing that I can work on?

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What to do when we f*ck up — because we will — a lot


“I’m sorry — I’ll do better next time.” One sentence, seven words = the beginning of repair.

Not long ago, over text message, I told a friend (let’s call him Bryce) that something he said didn’t land well with me. All I wanted to hear in reply were those seven words.

Instead, I got a text that said something like “OK” and then, days later, an in-person visit under false pretenses during which I got a monologue on how, by telling him that I was uncomfortable with his words, I had hurt him — how I had triggered him and brought up his old traumas.

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The CCF movement needs YOU!

This summer, we’re planning to transition leadership of Community-Centric Fundraising (CCF) from its co-founders to a CCF Global Council, and we sincerely hope that you will consider applying for this. There are more details about what it all entails, but first, here’s backstory for those of you who like context!

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For Black professionals, resigning isn’t giving up. It’s liberation.

I made the choice to tender my resignation in the fall of 2021, but not for the reasons you may think.

By now we have all endured seemingly endless punditry on the Great Resignation — with economists, employers, and politicians alike all making their case for why Americans need to return to work and what the nature of that work should be. The most recent tally indicates that 75.5 million Americans quit their jobs in 2021. Some are unwilling to return to an office, others are in search of higher wages, and a greater segment is switching industries and taking up new ventures entirely.

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Community-Centric Fundraising cannot be neutral: A reflection for 2022

A question that often comes up in our in our sector is: “Should fundraising be ‘neutral?’” Meaning, should fundraising and fundraisers stay out of political discourse? Should we avoid contentious causes and stances? Should we simply raise money and let other leaders in the sector deal with the challenging and polarizing conversations?

After all, the way in which the nonprofit sector has been built legally prohibits most organizations from directly or indirectly participating in political campaigns for candidates. And many foundations actively discourage political involvement, lobbying, and advocacy.

But this in no way means that our work and our movements must remain neutral. Everything we do and every choice we make is political.

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Beyond salary transparency: Be the hiring manager you want to meet

I dread job searches. I look forward to them about as much as buying pants online or trying to find the person at a corporate bank who can override the system software to correct an ownership error in an old organizational account. I know that I’m not alone about this.

Not long ago, I asked the development director at a fast-growing nonprofit known for its leadership on racial justice and LGBTQ+ issues how the search was going for their new associate director position. They had a lot to say. None of it was good. The “perfect candidate” accepted a verbal offer, then wanted to renegotiate upon receiving the letter of hire.

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How Getting Let Go From my Nonprofit Job Finally Helped Me Stop Pushing for Change

For over twenty years, I have been part of a spiritual program that has a useful axiom: “expectations are premeditated resentments.” Most of the time, I know better than to have any expectations but sometimes, I forget. When I was getting ready to birth my first and only child, for example, I expected to have a natural childbirth. I had a plan, midwives, candles, the whole thing. The birth turned out to be long and complicated and, in the end, anything but natural. I spent several years working through my resentments and the parts of that experience I was responsible for, the largest of which were my expectations.

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