Point of Vu

Vu Le has joined Blue Avocado as a regular humor columnist. By day: executive director of the Vietnamese Friendship Association in Seattle; by night: caped crusader for humor. We're calling his column: Point of Vu.

 

How to Schedule a Nonprofit Meeting: Point of Vu

Our humor columnist, Vu Le, comments on the joys of meeting scheduling. But first, a cartoon about meetings from Planet 501c3:

As a field, we have a lot of meetings. And we totally suck at scheduling them. Each week, I get at least a dozen emails like this: "Dear Vu, my name is John, and I am from Unicycle for Guns, a nonprofit dedicated to replacing violence with the joys of unicycling. I would like to meet with you to see how our organizations could collaborate. Let me know what works best for you."

Now, this email is very sincere and courteous, but it makes me want to punch the meeting requester in the pancreas. Not at first, of course, . . .

"Collective Impact" -- Resistance is Futile (Point of Vu)

We're pleased to announce that Vu Le -- who wrote last issue's hilarious and popular article about foundation site visits -- has joined Blue Avocado as a regular humor columnist. By day: executive director of the Vietnamese Friendship Association in Seattle; by night: caped crusader for humor. We're calling his column: Point of Vu.

In the past few years, the concept of Collective Impact (CI) has covered lots of ground, often with great results. Concerted efforts can kick some serious butts and do it more sustainably, too. Look at the examples such as Strive and others profiled by consultants and foundations. CI efforts are characterized by a common agenda, shared measurements, mutually reinforcing activities, constant communication, a backbone organization, and monthly happy hours.

However, like taking naps at work, Collective Impact should be done strategically and sometimes not at all.

Recently, I've started seeing it become more and more like the Borg in Star Trek, a species . . .

Humor: The Uncomfortable, Terrifying Site Visit

Executive director Vu Le writes with verve and humor about that peculiar, nerve-wracking nonprofit ritual known as the foundation site visit:

This week, Vietnamese Friendship Association (VFA) had a site visit: We're always telling people how cool our programs are, but to have funders actually come down and visit is affirming. And terrifying. It's a weird contradiction, like it's your birthday -- yay! -- but you're also getting a colonoscopy.

Before a visit, we try to prep as much as we can. Making a good impression is important. This includes tidying up the place and putting away our fold-out cot, which staff use for naps during particularly long days -- and some weekends. I also gather up all the papers on my desk and shove them into the overhead bin.

The staff's personal appearance is also taken into consideration. The more funding is at stake, the better we dress:

  • < $10,000: we dress a little better than our usual shabby
  • $10,000 to $19,000: we wear button-down shirts and tuck them into our jeans
  • $20,000 to $49,000: we wear slacks and a nice shirt, maybe a tie
  • $50,000 or over: I might require some of the staff to get Botox

Last year when the staff asked me . . .

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