Essay Archives

The annual report that never was …


As DEI professionals will tell you, one way to assess the authenticity of your workplace culture is to take stock of the types of messaging that circulate around the office. Are they overwhelmingly positive? (“We received this grant!” “Enrollment goals were exceeded!” “We can make payroll!”)

Seriously though, consider whether you are perpetuating a tone of toxic positivity. If you are, it likely flows over into your external messaging. Like your annual report.

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Tis the season: But is Giving Tuesday really community-centered?

PSL season has started so you know what that means. Thanksgiving. Black Friday. Small business Saturday. Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday.

It’s the season to give … and give and give.

During the week of Giving Tuesday (or more accurately, the month leading up to Giving Tuesday), you are probably inundated with emails and bombarded with marketing about it. Everyone is writing hot tips and hosting webinars on how you can up your Giving Tuesday campaign game.

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Listen to the children … (because the world hasn’t ruined them yet)

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my first decade of parenthood is that I have so much more to learn from my children than they will ever learn from me. They are curious, kind, and optimistic. They feel their feelings in a big way and have not succumbed to shame and self-doubt. They are excellent at speaking their truth and voicing their own needs. They could probably use some work on their boundaries (who needs privacy in the shower, anyway?), but, if there’s any force that can teach us to be the best, most unapologetic versions of ourselves, it is our children.

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What TikTok taught me about capitalism and nonprofits

I spend a lot of time engaging with the world virtually these days — especially on TikTok. In addition to viral dances and meme-ified sounds, my TikTok “For You Page” offers videos of creators dancing, making art, sharing their pains and joys, telling jokes, and engaging in political education and discussion. Although I’ve felt particularly isolated during this last year and a half, TikTok has helped me find community and confirm that I’m not the only one frustrated by capitalism.

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7 tips to write content that is more accessible

I think we’re all a bit prone to thinking that accessibility is tied to technology — like a website’s coding, the structure of a PDF, metadata, whatever — and so we think that accessibility is an ‘expert’s domain,’ like we kinda assume it’s the web developer or graphic designer’s job. But actually, accessibility comes in really varied forms, including how we write. And this is cool because just about everyone writes and reads, which means everyone can play a part in creating more accessible content.

Here are seven ways to make the written word more accessible.

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The top 5 reactions I hear from nonprofit leaders when I bring up ‘inclusive and equitable research and analytics’ — and how I respond

We, as a world, take pride in our data collection abilities and the evolving technologies at our disposal. However, when we look closely, we often realize that especially in our nonprofit sector, the data we have is flawed.

For far too long, we have ignored collecting critical data points, missed creating healthy dialogues around that data, and we have added our biases to all of it — all of it — to perform research operations and take crucial decisions from it. And, while we leveraged this insufficient data to build our research capabilities, a set of analytics-based terms entered our industry – machine learning, deep learning, and artificial intelligence.

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It’s time to rethink ROI metrics in racial justice

Are you a member of a racial justice team at a white-led organization?

Do you constantly get asked by organizational leaders, “What have you accomplished so far? Your team has been meeting for 6 months, so what has that investment gotten us? Show me the numbers!”?

If so, you are not alone! I have been there, both as a justice team member within organizations and as a consultant working with these teams to build their capacity. This frustration is very common and it exists because there is a dissonance between how organizations invest in racial justice work and the returns they expect on that investment.

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Pay me like a white man: Support BIPOC creatives and professionals through tipping

We all know that white men are at the top of the career food chain when it comes to earning power — with white women being a close second. (You need one more sentence, something giving an opinion or more info. Right now, it reads as two separate observations. So you need to supply the “so what” bitty 🙂 )

There are many ways to tackle this inequity, and I will present a few of my humble offerings towards this goal.

As I’ve grown as a writer, I find that more and more (white) people are sharing my work, whether it be in newsletters, curricula, or lesson plans. While that is amazing and gets my name out there, it doesn’t always turn into a type of quantifiable success. BIPOC writers don’t generally see extra income from the sharing of our work.

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Everyone has support needs — we are just choosing to center non-disabled employees

If your work environment and culture are inaccessible from the get-go, it is unlikely that disabled folks would feel encouraged to apply for or accept a position within your organization. With the continued impacts of the pandemic, our generation will grapple with disability at increased frequency and greater complexity than ever before, relying on already under-resourced and over-burdened support systems that are wholly unprepared for increased demand. This will only be exacerbated by the support needs of an aging generation of Baby Boomers. Accommodating disabled employees may be on your organization’s backburner, but any non-disabled member of your team can become disabled at any time.

There are a number of ways to create an inclusive, disability-friendly workplace.

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I don’t think my ADHD is a problem and neither should you

After a rough year in the nonprofit job market, I’m finally starting to see full-time research positions popping up regularly. That’s exciting, because I do miss working for an organization. In the ‘before times,’ I would have felt like I knew exactly the right approach to applying and interviewing. But in the before times, I didn’t know that I have an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). And now that I do know, I’m thinking about our working world very differently.

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Here is why you don’t feel like a leader. (But you are one! You are!)

You don’t have to hold a C-level title to be a leader. You already are one — especially if you are chasing ridiculously long to-do lists, especially if your day is littered with activities ranging from people management to overseeing operations to technology wrangling to sitting in on check-ins and other meetings — especially when you’re doing all of this so that your project or program stays on course.

But why is shifting your mindset — to acknowledge and embrace yourself as a leader — so hard to do?

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