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Collective impact: Voltron Vs. The Borg



A while ago, I wrote about how frustrated communities of color have been
regarding collective impact (visit the Collective Impact Forum to learn more about what collective impact is and read thoughts on it).  Most CI efforts start out with the best of intentions. As they develop though, they sometimes warp into massive entities that conquer and destroy all in their paths. I liken this to Star Trek villain The Borg, a species made up of billions of individuals who got annexed into a single hive mind, whose catchphrase is “resistance is futile.” The Borg are a terrifying and destructive force, much like restricted funding or those annoying grants that make you get people to vote for your org.


Some positive feedback and appreciation for funders


A few months ago, our grantwriter and I dealt with a grant for $4,000 that comprised a five-page narrative and about 10 attachments. Luckily, of course, we have most of those documents ready in our Master Grant folder. The kicker, though, was the unusual requirement for us to print out a document with ten labels, each corresponding to one of the attachments, and literally cut out each of the tabs and paste it on to the attachments. So there I was, handling a glue stick for the first time in years, carefully pasting each tab. I was getting more and more irritated, gritting my teeth and wishing I had listened to that one palm reader in Saigon who told me to go into medicine or maybe law (I think my parents paid her).


Why the new overtime rules are good for nonprofits and thus for our community



If you work in nonprofit in the US, you have heard that new federal overtime laws/rules are coming. They affect how we categorize the professionals in our sector—“Exempt” or “Non-Exempt”—and how we pay them, whether through set salaries or through hourly wages that include overtime for hours worked over 40. If reading that sentence makes you want to hyperventilate into a paper bag for a few minutes, you’re not alone. Many people are freaking out about these new laws and how to comply with them, because they take effect this coming December!


We need to stop treating nonprofits the way society treats poor people


During a drink with one of my favorite program officers, I brought up some feedback about how onerous their grant reporting process was. Even though the foundation is really flexible on how the funds can be used, they still ask for exactly how much of each line item the foundation pays for. And their line items don’t line up with ours, so we have to spend significant time translating our budget into theirs. And once the report is submitted, it affects what we report to other foundations, leading to a funding Sudoku that wastes endless hours of my and my team’s time. 


7 Hopeful Trends in Philanthropy

The GuideStar Blog welcomes Vu Le as a monthly contributor for his column, Point of Vu. The preceding is a cross-post of a May 9th article from his blog, Nonprofit with Balls

Hi everyone. Last week I was in Minneapolis for the GEO (Grantmakers for Effective Organizations) conference. I was there primarily to give a short talk called “Want to Help Communities of Color? Stop "Trickle-Down Community Engagement” and avoid work. But I stuck around for most of the conference, mainly because funder conferences always have way better food and booze. I was trying to hoard appetizers, having developed this unconscious fear of being in places traditionally reserved for funders. If I was going to get found out as an unwashed nonprofit Wildling and asked to leave, by golly I was going to take as many grilled artichoke hearts with me as I could.


Dude, what’s with this notion that nonprofits don’t have clear outcomes?

 

The preceding is a cross-post of a March 7th article by Vu Le from his blog, Nonprofit with Balls. To read the original post, click here.

Hi everyone, this post will likely be my last coherent one for a while
, because my second baby is due to arrive next Tuesday, March 15
th (Eeeeeeek!) I plan to keep up with my weekly writing schedule, because I have my priorities. But that means the next 20 posts or so will reflect the hallucinogenic, meandering thoughts of a sleep-deprived father of a toddler and a newborn. Grammar and spelling may be questionable, and there will probably be a lot of baby-related analogies, such as “Restricting funding is like using duct tape as a diaper; sure, it makes you feel clever, but—OMG, please please just go to sleep, Daddy is so tired!”


The myth of double-dipping, and the destructiveness of restricted funding


I’ve written before about double-dipping being one of the worst accusations you can leverage against a nonprofit. It makes for an effective insult: “Your ED is so dumb, he went on eHarmony hoping to meet a logic model.” “Oh yeah? Well your org is so unethical, it reported that one funder paid for some food for a community gathering, but then also told another funder that they paid for the same food!” (#nonprofitinsults, in case you’re bored and want to start a new trend on Twitter)


Common nonprofit terms and concepts and what they actually mean


The GuideStar Blog is happy to welcome Vu Le of the Rainier Valley Corps as a monthly contributor in his new column, Point of Vu. We begin the series with a recent post from his wildly successful blog, Nonprofit With Balls, where Vu provides a humorous and poignant perspective on the everyday challenges and responsibilities nonprofit professionals juggle. Take it away, Vu!