Essay Archives

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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Underpaid staff don’t need motivation, they need dollar bills and benefits

“Financially, [working at a nonprofit] can’t work for a lot of people. And in fact, with a nonprofit our size — boy, you almost have to be in a committed relationship with somebody else with an income, because you’re not — it’s hard to support yourself on what we can pay people, in Denver.”

This was the moment my Executive Director (ED) finally admitted that what I was being paid wasn’t enough to support me. I was just one month shy of six years into my position at the organization, and she didn’t say this quote directly to me. She said it on a podcast that she was featured in as a nonprofit leader.

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The 2021 CCF big ol’ rewind mega round-up

We’re closing out our second year of posting content to the Community-Centric Fundraising content hub. We feel incredibly lucky and honored to have worked with so many talented and passionate folks this year to expand our collective knowledge.

Here’s an anthology of everything that was published in 2021, organized by theme (and in order of date they were first published).

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The worst pieces of work advice I ever received

If asked, many women of colour (WOC) can tell horror stories of the advice they received early in their careers. Most of us have heard versions of, “You should use an “English name on your resume,” (something I personally first heard from a career counsellor when I was an undergraduate at a Canadian university, ironically directed at a room of 5 ethnically diverse faces attending a career workshop). Or perhaps, like me, you’ve been told to dress “professionally,” that is, with no overly bright colours (which of course means to never dress in a way that might identify your ethnic heritage). A temp agency staff member offered me that gem.

These types of advice continue to pop up throughout the careers of women of colour. These pieces of advice are tropes bandied around — microaggressions wrapped in helpfulness and presented with a smile.

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Seasonal Nonprofit Burnout Disorder: You may be entitled to compensation

If you often feel overwhelmed, frustrated, or anxious at work, you’re certainly not alone. I’ve heard from many colleagues in the nonprofit sector who feel the same way. In fact, this is the very reason I felt compelled to talk about this issue.

I’ve come to believe that burnout culture is the ultimate unspoken truth of the nonprofit sector. Now, don’t get me wrong. When I say unspoken, I don’t literally mean unspoken. In truth, we talk and joke about burnout all the time. The problem is no one takes it seriously. And more importantly, I think we’re neglecting some key factors from the burnout equation.

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Use informed consent to build trust and answer that damn demographics survey on grant applications

Imagine this: It’s grant deadline day. You get on the grant portal to submit your materials. Proposal, check. Project budget, check.

You scroll down the list of required attachments. Wait a second, what’s this? Staff and board demographics… you must’ve forgotten, darn it.

So in a rush, you scroll through the current staff and board rosters and hastily assign demographics to them “to the best of your knowledge” according to the survey categories. Save and submit. Phew!

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America’s charitable problem extends far beyond Giving Tuesday, and the Global South is bearing the consequences

The Tuesday after Thanksgiving has become a charity free-for-all, with pleading subject lines vying for attention as they flood mailboxes. Nonprofit organizations have seized onto Giving Tuesday as an opportunity to reap a kind of fiscal penance after the indulgences of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

After spending one day feasting and feeling thankful for all we have, and spending the next days consuming even more, it is difficult to turn away from societal injustices like homelessness and hunger.

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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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