Essay Archives

What does it look like when we stop waiting for those in power to ‘save’ us, and start working collectively to keep each other safe?

As of December 2020, Americans for the Arts reported that 60% of white creative workers and 69% of Black, Indigenous, Arab, Asian, Hispanic, Latinx, Middle Eastern, and Pacific Islander creative workers in the United States had become unemployed. The numbers are even higher in New York where I live. The total revenue loss for creative workers in 2020 was an estimated $77.2 billion, with an average of $15,140 per person — and 55% of creative workers do not have any savings.


Faux statements and fake love: on performative activism and faux-woke organizations

Cute commitments wrapped in bows ain’t cutting it. The thing that we, as Black people traumatized by shallow promises of systemic change, feared happened.

It turned out that the bold statements over the past year from organizations promising to become antiracist and promising to address white supremacy were just fleeting campaign slogans aimed at not looking like the bad guy.

At least, this has been true with my experience in the philanthropic space.


The real cost of having a scarcity mindset

It is a question we have all been asked at least once. An inquiry designed to awaken the dreamer inside and push you to think outside of the box. The question is big and consequential, often posed during team meetings or maybe as a strategic planning prompt. When asked, you’re told no response is off limits, which manages to inspire and overwhelm at the same time. The bigger your idea, the better.

What would you do if your nonprofit had unlimited resources?


What working at a flat organization has taught me about white supremacy

We are all familiar with how ‘standard’ businesses, organizations, and nonprofits typically operate. The structure usually resembles a pyramid — the base staff of employees start at the bottom, progress up in status until they reach the top, which usually consists of a CEO and/or executive team.

But what happens when a business or organization adopts a non-hierarchical or flat structure? Flat structures don’t have a pyramid — there are no levels of management, employees are part of the decision-making process, and everyone typically makes the same amount of money.


How Autostraddle went from the edge of closure toward a robust (and successful!) community-centric donor model, during a pandemic!

In July 2019, Autostraddle held a fundraiser to grow their publication and chances at thriving, and one of their fundraiser goals was to hire a director for the membership program and fundraising because they’d never had one. (They’d shared the duties among existing staff.) That’s where I came in.

Unless you’re queer, you probably haven’t heard of If you’re a queer woman or trans or non-binary person — the likelihood of you having heard about Autostraddle probably skyrockets.


Take your Pride month and shove it

It is Pride Month, which of course means that all queer people gain superpowers and are being cared for by the prime lesbian herself, the Moon. (Apologies if you didn’t know that, but it’s true and I don’t make the rules. Mother Nature is gay. Like, why else would there be rainbows?)

The month of June is also a time to remind ourselves why Pride exists in the first place — to commemorate the fight against police brutality and oppression. (Sounds familiar, huh?) And while there have been many victories since Stonewall (and even before Stonewall), there is still plenty left to fight for.


Why journalism needs to rethink its gold standards, especially when reporting on communities of color

So much of how the world understands philanthropy is through the help of journalists (as well as development communications folks) who write about the issues to get people interested and involved. For people outside of the philanthropic sphere, it’s how they learn about what’s going on in our sector; and often, it’s also how people inside that world learn about what’s going on.


Why I can’t get North Carolina’s state motto out of my head (and what other white people can learn from my obsession)

My friend Jess Null recently started a book club for the Rhode Island AFP Chapter. It’s been great, and not just because I need structure and deadlines to finish anything. We’ve been able to have some really rich discussions of important texts in fundraising.

For the last one, I finally read Edgar Villanueva’s Decolonizing Wealth. Near the end Villanueva, a fellow North Carolinian, ties the book together by recalling the North Carolina state motto, and how that phrase informed the values he grew up with.


Collaborative philanthropy is rooted in African communal practice. Let’s reclaim it.

Collaborative philanthropy is already at the root of many communal Indigenous and African societies. In fact, it was collaboration and fundraising from diasporic communities that supported liberation struggles, which then led to independence from colonial rule. On the heels of Pan-Africanism, a movement based on the belief that unity is fundamental to socio-economic and political progress, African leaders, such as Tanzania’s first president Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, recognized that the fight against colonization was a common thread, a shared experience that could bring African nations together.


Want to keep Black women in the nonprofit sector? Worry about yourselves

Today, Black women in the nonprofit realm constantly face spoken and unspoken rules on how to present our bodies, our voices, and our aspirations. This new kind of policing is unlike the respectability politics of old — the politics that would have you believe that advanced degrees and a business suit can keep you safe from harm. This new type of policing problematizes however we show up. It makes an issue of our joy, our bodies, our intellect, and our work ethic.