Award-winning Poems About Nonprofits

For Nonprofit Geeks, like me, who follow the excellent and super-funny blog about nonprofit life titled “Nonprofit with Balls” (NWB), you know that this week the “Nonprofit Poet Laureate of the Milky Way Galaxy” was crowned. Some background: NWB (written by Vu Le) had a nonprofit poetry contest this spring. Over 250 poems were submitted; 15 were picked for awards (and the top poet was deemed Nonprofit Poet Laureate of the Milky Way Galaxy). I encourage you to read the results. They truly are top-caliber; ready for a literary magazine or a liberal arts college poetry class or an emotional movie montage.

I entered the contest. Though I did not win, place or show – I will share the entry here. One note: a running joke in the NWB blog is that hummus is a staple at nonprofit events and functions. I thought by including a running joke, I would win favor with the judges. (Nope).

If you want to be inspired and moved, read the winning entries. Alternatively, read the poem below.

My Dog
My dog runs to greet me at the door when I come home.
Does he seem so happy because I submitted a 36-page grant application on time?
Or because I successfully executed a mail merge for a fundraising appeal?
Or because I typed the monthly board minutes in record speed?
Does my dog show me so much love because he knows I am trying to save the world?
No.
My dog knows not the cares of the nonprofit staffer.
He only knows that I feed him, I walk him…
And I smell like hummus.

-Susannah Erler

P.S. You should know that I don’t actually have a dog. Including a dog was another (unsuccessful) attempt to win favor with the judges.

15315494043_9044d98949_m.jpg

Photo: National Library of Australia, 1910

 

Heartfelt Work – Saving Lives

We hear about the good work that large nonprofits do. But it is less common that the stories of the foot-soldiers and smaller nonprofit organizations make it into public awareness.

Here is one of those stories; when one-on-one human connections were made. A mother needed help, someone listened, reached out to another – across borders. Requests were sent, generous people responded, and a life of a child was saved as a result.

I see it as the power of people who care – and the power of nonprofit organizations. Here are the words of the board chair of a small nonprofit organization, called Hearts Unite the Globe, doing a tremendous job spreading the word and also connecting the Congenital Heart Defect community. I’ll let her tell the story of this child’s lifesaving operation:

I am feeling so grateful right now. A few months ago a woman wrote to me from Africa. She had heard my radio show* and she wrote asking me for help. As a single mother in Africa, she had no way to pay for open-heart surgery for her son and the pediatric cardiologist said he would die without surgery soon.

I reached out to the two gentlemen I knew helping children in Africa and after many, many emails, many many prayers and much effort on the part of untold number of angels Elvis had his open-heart surgery TODAY! He’s recovering in the ICU and tomorrow I get to meet him and his mother! Such an amazing blessing! Please pray for Elvis and his mother Esther. They’ve been through so much, they are so very far away and they still have a long path to travel upon but I truly believe angels are watching over them.

Thank you to Ann Logan-Lubben, her husband Jack Lubben, Laura Schleicher, Laura Redfern, Frank Jaworski and all of the supporters of Hearts Unite the Globe. Because of the work we are doing with the radio show, we really are helping others.

I especially want to thank HeartGift, the nonprofit organization that flew Esther and Elvis here and have provided life-saving surgery at no cost to this family. I really need to recognize two angel dads who were so helpful in trying to get Elvis where he needed to be — thank you so much Peter Mbogo Kamau of the Take Heart Association Project and Fareed Matthews of Brave Little Hearts SA — both of these wonderful gentlemen continued correspondence with so many people in an effort to help little Elvis. Truly, this was a labor of love for so many people. I am very touched with how people came together to provide a miracle for Elvis.

– Anna Jaworski, Board Chair, Hearts Unite the Globe. January 21, 2016  

*Heart to Heart with Anna (about Congenital Heart Defects on Blog Talk Radio) a service of the nonprofit organization Hearts Unite the Globe

Your Nonprofit Geek

Greater Good Strategies

Nonprofits: Forget About “Better Late Than Never”

Last week the Greater Good Geek blog focused on nonprofit researcher Penelope Burk’s findings. This week “The Geek” will highlight another of Burk’s ‘best practices’ in writing thank you letters to donors – which can be summed up in two words:

Be prompt.

Burk conducts surveys of those who donate to nonprofit organizations. Getting a prompt thank you note is something donors do expect. Burk’s research on thank you letters, by the way, culminated in a list of the 20 Characteristics of Great Thank You Letters which was published in Burk’s Donor-Centered Fundraising.

But donors’ expectations is just one reason to be prompt. Another reason comes from the IRS. They state that a donor is required to “keep a contemporaneous written acknowledgment for a charitable contribution.” That key word – contemporaneous – essentially means “be prompt.”

Mentioning the IRS is always a good excuse to point you to their handy Charitable Contributions Guide for Tax Exempt Organizations. “The Geek” suggests having this guide at your fingertips and reviewing it periodically.

So because the Greater Good Geek is always looking for fun ways to remember nonprofit best practices, here is a haiku poem to remind you of this important thank you note element. Have a great #HaikuTuesday as well!

10 Haiku Tuesday

 

One proven tip for thank you notes to donors

Nonprofit researcher Penelope Burk has written extensively about fundraiser best practices, including “donor-centered thank you letters.” Today’s “Greater Good Geek Nonprofit Haiku Tip” focuses on one of these proven tips for a great thank you note. In fact, here is more info on and the citation for Burk’s research (check out number 9 – the inspiration for today’s poem).

9 Haiku Tuesday

Ever heard of a Nonprofit Geek?

Many of you know computer geeks or math geeks. But have you ever met a nonprofit geek?

“Just what do you mean by a ‘nonprofit geek’?”

Picture the computer geeks you know – what are they like? They could spend hours thinking about computers, right? The math geeks could tell you the difference between the K Theory and the Algebraic K Theory. (I agree: snore).

They know their stuff

The bottom line is, just like the other geeks you know, nonprofit geeks know their stuff – about nonprofit organizations.

Geek Images

And what other images does the word geek bring up for you? Are you picturing a smooth Casanova used car salesperson-type. No way!

Not a wolf in sheep’s clothing

wolfinsheepsclothing

A geek is someone who is most interested in facts, truth and accuracy – and being approachable about it. Once you got to know those geeks in high school, they turned out to be nice, welcoming and loyal, didn’t they? Plus, if you invited them to a party they would help you with your homework too.

Like trusted scouts

So a nonprofit geek is an approachable expert about the community sector – someone who wants to be helpful.

Scouts

Image Credits: J.W. Barber (first image); Adolph B. Rice Studio (second image).

Blog questions: what do you think of when you hear “nonprofit geek?” Do you imagine someone helpful and knowledgeable? Have you ever known a nonprofit geek? And if so, what were they like?