Vu Le, Blue Avocado humor columnist and executive director of Vietnamese Friendship Association, makes us smile:
Executive directors are problem solvers. That’s why we get paid the big bucks. But why keep it to just nonprofit problems? We would make great advice columnists!
Dear Nonprofit Director: After a year of dating the girl of my dreams, I introduced her to my family and announced we were getting married. The reaction was warm but not enthusiastic. Neither set of our parents has offered to help with the costs of the wedding next year. How do we bring this subject up to them? –Anxious in Anchorage
Dear Anxious: Potential funders like your parents are not obligated to support your project. They may do so if it aligns with their priorities. For instance, you can present a clear argument with research and best practices; you can show you, too, are financially invested; and you can promise significant outcomes: grandchildren. Keeping your parents in the dark about your girlfriend was a mistake, as transparency is always more effective in engaging your donors. Given these circumstances, I recommend you postpone this project a year in order to build up your infrastructure and strengthen your relationship with your potential funders.
Dear Nonprofit Director: My teenage daughter is incorrigible! I know all kids this age go through a rebellious phase, but she’s driving me crazy. She is sullen, lazy, disobeys curfews, gets poor grades, and neglects to do the one chore I ask her to do, which is to load up the dishwasher! When she’s not holed up in her room texting, she hangs out with her equally irresponsible friends. I’m at wit’s end! What should I do? — Massively Overwhelmed in Minnesota
Dear MOM: First, own up to your part in this. Did you give clear directions and expectations? Does she have a detailed chart with chores, metrics, and deadlines? Have you provided her with sufficient dishwasher loading training? When those things are taken care of, the problem will usually resolve itself. If not, ask yourself if this is a matter of fit. Sometimes it’s just not a good match. Have a talk with your daughter to see if this is the right family for her. Whatever you do, document her behavior and your actions in writing so that liabilities are decreased in the unfortunate event you need to part ways.
Dear Nonprofit Director: My husband and I are thinking of having children. We are in our mid-30s and love to travel. How do we know if we’re ready to settle? — Ambivalent in Kansas City
Dear Ambivalent: Do a SWOT analysis to determine your potential strengths and weaknesses as parents, as well as opportunities parenthood might provide (tax incentives, having someone to take care of you in your old age, the chance to create a kid who might discover the cure for cancer) and threats (collapse of the Euro, zombie apocalypse, etc.). Sometimes a more extensive assessment, in which you solicit the feedback of key stakeholders (such as your financial advisor) may be helpful. It is important, though, that this new element aligns with your mission, vision, and strategic plan as a couple.
Dear Nonprofit Director: I have a son who is not exactly the brightest, but he’s not all that dumb either. He’s just up in the clouds with bunnies and unicorns, wanting to make the world better or something. That’s noble, but I’m afraid he’ll never get anywhere. And he’s not blessed enough with looks or charm to coast by. How can I convince him to switch to a practical job like being a pharmacist? I hear they pay pretty well. The boy is kind of physically weak, too, and you don’t have to lift much as a pharmacist. — Concerned in Seattle
Dear Concerned: Leave me alone, Dad!
Vu Le is executive director of the Vietnamese Friendship Association in Seattle, a multi-service human services organization. His humor work is found in Blue Avocado and in his blog, Nonprofit with Balls, where you can also read more Q&A from the Nonprofit Director. Vu welcomes questions at askanonprofitdirector at gmail.com. His father may or may not be a pharmacist.