Dear Uncle Nelson is a new column exclusive to Blue Avocado: Nelson Layag takes on the questions that lie somewhere in the land of nonprofit etiquette, political appropriateness, ethics, and truth. Submit your questions to him at
Dear Nelson: One of my young male co-workers often comes to work with sleep in his eyes. It drives me crazy and I can hardly talk to him. What should I do? –Obsessive About Grooming
Dear Obsessive: Ask him with a smile: "Hey, did you just get up?! I can still see sleep in your eyes!"And one day when he doesn’t have sleep in your eyes, go over to him rubbing your own eyes and ask, "Hey, do I have sleep in my eyes? I hate it when I forget to check!"
Dear Nelson: There’s a new employee in the cubicle two down from me, and I think he’s gay. It bothers me that I can’t tell. I know this isn’t my business, and I know that either way it shouldn’t affect working with him, but honestly, I want to know! –Curious
Dear Curious: I’ve got two answers. Answer #1: Ask him if he likes Barbra Streisand. Answer #2: Get over it!
Dear Nelson: I was looking at the donor list of a multi-service agency in our town and it occurred to me we should be sending solicitation letters to the same people (since we do something sort of similar). But then I was wondering: is that ethical? –Feeling Guilty
Dear Feeling Guilty: Yes. If you read their names in an annual report or event sponsor list, the list is hardly private info. But just because you have their names doesn’t mean you can raise money from them. Raising money from a cold mailing list (a list where of people who have never given to you) is hard and getting the list is probably the easiest part.