Friend: "You know, KT, there are all these things that you've learned how to do over the last 12 years. Wouldn't it have been amazing if someone who'd learned it first had posted some of those lessons online?"
Him: "So ... you should do that."
Me: "That's pretentious and terrifying."
He has a point. If you're like me, some nights you'll be on the couch working on a last-minute grant proposal (is there any other kind?) and you just want to distract yourself with something on the internet that bears a resemblance to your world, to find an article or an observation that relates to you. Why is that stuff so hard to find?
Most of the popular discourse around nonprofit organizations seems to be the opposite of helpful. As far as I can tell, this is what you're most likely to find:
- Well-meaning but patronizing smarty-pantses who believe that, if nonprofit leaders were skilled, they would have gotten a "real" job in business or government.
- Management experts and authors who all assume you're a robot creature who can suppress your nature to become the bestest manager/ leader/ speaker/ planner/ fundraiser in ten easy steps.
- Fundraising and other nonprofit experts, some of whom are legitimately insightful from time to time, who practice "content marketing"- basically they write semi-interesting blogs that are intended to help promote their latest book, seminar, or speaking tour.
- Colleagues delivering conference presentations because they wanted the registration discount and/or are friends with the conference organizer.
I have spent a LOT of time over the years sifting through articles and advice from people on that list. Very, very little of it actually made me better at my job.
Experienced, thoughtful people who took time to get to know my organization and share their expertise, they made all the difference in the world. But there are only so many mentors, only so many meetings you can have in a single day or year. The community of people who do what we do should be so much more robust than it is. Someone should've started to write s&!t down.
And thus: this blog. Charity Case is part lessons to my younger self and part attempt to explore the unique characteristics and challenges of the sector. Because it's probably time.