Essay Archives

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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


Pay Equity: Performative or Palpable?

Encouraging equal opportunity to the salary negotiation process doesn’t ensure equal outcomes — it only further legitimizes a system that only continues to perpetuate sexism, racism, ableism, and many other -isms. The only way to ensure pay equity is to change the system.

So how can organizations and the sector as a whole enact actual, palpable changes in their structures and systems to advance pay equity? I have some suggestions.


Nonprofits: the lessons we learned from the pandemic must stay, full stop

How do you feel about the power of just two vaccine shots, taking you back to normal? (Though I understand ‘normal’ can mean different things to different people.) Do you think we should use those two doses as a reason to forever leave the pandemic chapter to the history books — something we have wanted to do ever since all this started?

I’m not asking you these questions because I’m an anti-vaxxer (in fact, I am due for the second dose soon.). I am raising these questions because I believe that, as an Indian immigrant in North America, I have the power and privilege to observe two worlds — India and North America. And these two worlds are on two opposite sides of a spectrum, one made up of a catalogue of pandemic-related events from the last 16 months in history. While North America is ready to plan the post-pandemic world, India is preparing to survive a third wave of COVID.


Latinx communities deserve a place in philanthropy

I believe that the future of philanthropy relies on taking a community-centric approach. This means placing the community the nonprofit is serving at the center. It also means acknowledging philanthropy’s dark past and looking towards the future with a social and racial justice lens. It is the only way we can begin to collectively heal and bring equity to our communities. A key principle of community-centric philanthropy is valuing everything people can bring to the table besides money. This can take place in the form of time, items, talent or connections. Latinx people deserve a place in philanthropy because our community values are rooted in giving, especially the kind of giving that isn’t monetary.


Why I am a fundraiser — despite not setting out to be one

I am one of those fundraisers who “fell into fundraising” instead of seeking out this job in a more traditional way.

I was the first person to attend college in my family. I went to college at an elite institution in New York City with the goal of supporting myself through college without any family or external financial support (aside from need-based financial aid and scholarships). I worked six jobs to support myself through college, including a job as an administrative assistant (functionally a receptionist) at a Jewish student center on campus.