Nonprofit Life & Style

Seen & Heard
Blue Avocado Readers Test It
Worth Reading & Why
Take a 3 Minute Vacation Right Now

The Founding Fathers Write a Grant Proposal

"Just look at this second sentence!" groaned Samuel Adams. "'We hold these truths to be self-evident  .  .' This flies in the face of 'evidence-based practice'! We'll never get funded!"

Another delegate had a different complaint: "This mission statement is way too long!" he wailed. "Mr. Jefferson, no one will ever read this 'Declaration of Independence' of yours."

In the meantime, George Washington had been working up a budget for the revolutionary war (earlier called the innovative war). His initial figures . . .

Take a 3-Minute Vacation with a Root Beer Float Party

"You look happy," said Liz to Jack on 30 Rock recently. "Did you just have a root beer float?"

Thrill your office this end-of-summer. Go get vanilla ice cream and root beer (straws nice but not necessary). Announce a 3:30 pm root beer float party. At 3:25 make the root beer floats. And be happy.

And then join Snoopy for 3 minutes while he gets drunk on root beer floats to big band music and does his Happy Dance . . .

Take a 3-Minute Vacation to a Country Picnic

Wouldn't it be nice to be under a blue sky (instead of fluorescent lights), on a picnic mat (instead of in your cubicle) and eating fresh cooked corn on the cob (instead of a stale granola bar)?

You can be! Bring in two fresh ears of corn and cook them in your microwave at work. Give one to a co-worker. Put a screensaver of blue sky on your computer and sit on the floor.

Or at least do the corn. Really. It's amazingly good. Click here for the 39-second instructions.

Vote with Your Mission Campaign in California

We like the new campaign to get 100% of nonprofit staff and volunteers to vote: the Vote with Your Mission campaign at the California Association of Nonprofits. After all, if 100% of the people who work and volunteer for the arts voted, we'd have better arts policies. If 100% of the people who work and volunteer against domestic violence voted, we'd have better domestic violence policies.

More than 100 nonprofits have already signed on in the first three weeks of the campaign. To sign on, a nonprofit agrees to do two items from a list of six. Example: "If you have a document such as 'Board Member Responsibilities,' add to it: 'All board members will vote in every election while they are on the board.'"

If you're a California nonprofit, sign on here. For everyone: remember that 13 million Americans work in nonprofits. Shouldn't we all be voting with our missions?

3-Minute Vacation: Bring Your Local Pub to You!

April is a very competitive month. The NCAA basketball tournament (and all of the office pools that come along with it) has just wrapped up, baseball season has begun, NHL hockey playoffs are in full swing, and the NBA basketball post-season is right around the corner. So let’s bring a competition out of the pubs and into your office with a nice game of office darts. 

To get started, you’ll just need some common items from your desk or office supply room: push-pin tacks, rubber bands, sticky notes, tape, and paperclips. To learn how to fashion these items into darts, click here.

For the record, we never encourage violence in the workplace. No throwing the darts at each other. Nor do we encourage throwing darts at pictures of media folks, rival sports teams, politicians, or funders. Here are a few dartboard images to use.

Give Someone a 3-Hour Vacation!

What does everyone need more of? Answer: time! So set up a meeting with your boss or a co-worker, or someone you know in another nonprofit. Make it for December 22 or 23. Say it's really important and will take 2.5 to 3 hours. If they ask what it's about, say (in an urgent tone of voice) that you'll tell them at the meeting but they needn't worry.

Then, at 10 am on December 22 (or whenever you made the appointment), announce that there's no meeting and they now have three hours to go Christmas shopping or get a massage!

Many thanks to my CompassPoint co-workers Mike Allison and Andrew Goldfarb for this gift several years ago . . . which I still appreciate having been given. Jan

Take a 3-Minute Vacation in Flight Around the World

Take yourself away from the hot, stuffy (or over-cooled) office. Get away from the financial projections. Give yourself a break. In fact, take a flight high above the earth and enjoy these photographs of our earth: Earth From Above.

To see more than 2,600 breathtaking photos by Yann Arthus Bertrand -- each one downloadable free -- go here and select a county in the upper left hand corner.

The Automatic Nonprofit Salary Calculator

Jon Pratt of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits uses a tongue-in-cheek version of the familiar Salary Calculator model to comment trenchantly on the indiscriminate -- and not so indiscriminate –differences in how nonprofit staff get paid:

How much should you be paid for your nonprofit job?

What . . .  you want to get PAID? You mean an actual salary, not just a stipend, and for a nonprofit job that is not solely volunteer? Don’t forget to factor in all of the psychic income you get knowing you are making the world a better place! After all, you are doing the Lord’s work, so your reward may not be in this life but in the next. Plus, there is the prestige and halo effect – that has to be worth something!

Even after taking these not inconsiderable intrinsic rewards into account, you might still wonder whether you are getting paid the right amount of actual money (probably not) or whether one of your co-workers is getting paid the right amount (probably too much). The following fourteen data points provide a "scientific" formula (created by someone with two advanced degrees, neither of them in a scientific field) that you can use to check your salary against cruel reality:

1. Start by entering your organization's total budget here: ____________
Then enter the . . .

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