Zombie Philanthropy

In the season 4 finale of Z Nation (Spoiler Alert), the show’s intrepid world-saving survivalists set off to find the now zombified POTUS. Discouraged, they learn that they have arrived too late. POTUS has been replaced, about 60 times over, in a diminishing succession of predecessors that have also met a variety of post-apocalyptic deaths. The now reigning POTUS was previously secretary of some instantly forgettable department. The good news is that it’s a woman (finally?). The bad news is that she’s helping stage a massive “reset,” which may or may not mean burning the world alive or releasing a flesh eating disease—the season conclusion was confusing…

We are halfway through a second really bad year with our own POTUS, and, no, Jon and I aren’t making an analogy that a mostly half-dead zombie government is highly more effective and less scary than our existing government. The tea leaves aren’t stirring up a good blend, however, and nonprofit leaders and hungry consultants know that most streams of government funding are closing up shop and headed toward a private sector near YOU! Have you hugged a foundation program officer today? Of course you haven’t…no one has…they’d cut us.

Here’s the analogy that every good nonprofit soldier, Z-Nation Lt. Roberta Warren survivor hero, is suffering through these days…and it’s only getting harder. Z-Nation was a country felled by tragedy and hard times. It’s leadership had no real plan of succession – just an endless domino game that lacked any sort of tactical maneuvering, battle plan or defense strategy. In the end, their leaders relied on the back-up to the back-up plan: blowing shit up. Philanthropy—despite being led by highly intelligent and capable leaders across all fields—is increasingly defined by narrowing perspectives and a constipated range of giving. Philanthropy is, for our times, about as deft and vibrant as the zombie government that Lt. Warren and her team ultimately had to kill off in a secret bunker in Virginia. For the record, this blog is also not condoning killing off philanthropists in Virginia…that would make our job so much harder. We just want philanthropy to be a little less dead.

Let’s look at one important trend in this Zombie Philanthropy. At the beginning of the year the Chronicle of Philanthropy gave a breakdown of various sector-based categories that its top 50 philanthropists spent $14.7 billion in giving.

The top tier of gifts was spent accordingly: 1) $9B Foundations; 2) $1.8B Colleges/Universities; 3) $790M Hospitals and Medical Centers; and 4) 361M Donor Advised Funds (DAF).

As any fundraiser knows, #1 and #4 are largely the same, except the chances of getting into a DAF is about as good as getting a McArthur Genius Award. It exists. A pinprick in the universe of nonprofit professionals gets awarded a McArthur in a lifetime. Chances are, for both a McArthur and a DAF, you will neither know how to apply, what to apply for, or who to send your application to. For monies parked in a DAF, or family/public foundation, most stick to the max yearlypayout of a measly 5%; every year we see a more limited pool of interest based causes with increasingly stricter ways of spending money (it’s OK for the donor to get a livable salary, just not you); a limping-along grantmaking process; and foundation officers that are genetically bred to ward off solicitous development officers and ensure an iron gate policy tougher to access than a decent health plan.

Basically, with foundations and DAFS at this point, we have a kind of ouroboros philanthropy – a snake eating its own tail. I guess the good news is that it’s not a zombie. The bad news is that it’s billions of tax-free dollars sitting stagnant, year after year, decade after decade, waiting…for…the…next…grant…cycle…

The next massive movement of philanthropic spending is colleges and universities. Let’s assess how this is working out for most families today, since we know, on average, that those dollars are typically poured into buildings, pet donor projects and research. Is college affordable yet? How are those student loans doing? Are we breaking the racial, cultural and economic divide between whodoes and does not attain higher education? The resounding answer is no. Philanthropy is reflective of the families that provide the gifts, not of the public need. The money pours in and petrifies, or, perhaps, crystalizes, assuring our economic, racial and cultural class barriers will remain for decades to come.

And finally, Hospitals and Medical Centers – Have you visited your local or remote city today? If so, you probably have thought…WTF…when did they build THAT? Bright, shiny new medical centers are the focal point of most small and large cities today, promising compassionate care, community response and cutting-edge technology. Philanthropists, companies and foundations seem to swoon over the chance to pour money into these centers and their coveted love letters are the outcomes models proffered by the chief medical teams. I’m sure those private correspondences and long-term promises are grand in scheme. Quick question: How’s healthcare going for the average family…you know, insurance wise…paying for all this compassionate care, cutting-edge technology. It’s still not good, right? In fact, we know the devastating reality of healthcare today. These facilities might as well be beautiful tombs. Private philanthropy means nothing if the average family can’t pay for the doctors, nurses and technology inside that massive building that probably used to be a block of affordable housing units for 100 families.

We’d probably be in a better position to fight today’s breed of zombie philanthropy if a DAF could actually automate its lifeless endowment, shuffle-drag it’s millions north of Broadway and sink its teeth into us. It’s so much easier when you have the teeth marks and blood to prove that a zombie is really just a zombie, and not Fidelity Investment’s latest and greatest fund to help “poor children.” Personally, I’m waiting for the back-up plan to the back-up plan. I’m curious what a philanthropic re-set will look like. We’re certainly not headed for a government sector takeover anytime soon—hopefully the next course of action isn’t of the flesh-eating variety. Either way, we know one thing, nothing is moving anywhere anytime quickly.

False Prophets, Metrics & the Lonely Nonprofit Soldiering On

Wes Moore, the New Executive Director of the Robin Hood Foundation, may be the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to that organization or to philanthropy in New York City in a long time. I recently had an opportunity to meet him, and I left wanting to give him a hug or a cape, mostly both. He’s a refreshing, impassioned voice of change in an otherwise highly structured, restrained field of professionals that align true to their corporate playbook. I have a furtive desire that Wes may be one of the great heroes our industry so desperately needs right now, however, this post isn’t about Wes, not quite… but there’s more to the Robin Hood story…

Two weeks ago I arrived home from a double hitter wedding/funeral weekend with a migraine, hangover, overtired children and a newly arrived gala invitation to a friend’s youth-based organization. My friend is a former colleague that I hold in high esteem—he’s a twice-over executive director, with a fancy degree and all the smarts, empathy, grit and hard work that ranks him with the best of the best. Certainly the migraine and sadness didn’t help my interpretation of the gala invitation: I turned it over and over and became more and more angry. It was not an invitation to an event for his organization, but for 12 in total. More importantly, it was a signal of our times.

The tough thing about raising money today is explaining why money is money, because it seems like few donors with the actual capacity to give out real money want to do so. In New York City, there is a deep supply of former wall street or tech professionals that gave up their for-profit careers to sidle on over to the nonprofit world to show us how its done because “we’re so poorly trained/equipped for modern business.” The real damage, however, is their small-batch hipster hell of “support structure” organizations, projects and RFPs that don’t provide money but require at least 1-2 years of fruitless labor on the part of the nonprofit to work through some byzantine MIT throwaway modeling practice that is proffered by millennials with voice fry.

The invitation I held that day was structured along a similar concept. I didn’t have to look at the host organization’s staff roster to know that this gala-not-a-gala was being led by a former hedge fund-wall street professional with a staff roster chock full of similar marketing/business folks. I, of course, did check and it is. I was given a pitch to support a gala, to support my friend’s agency (and 11 other nonprofits), as part of a yearlong program where the Mother Hen agency trains this group to raise money.

Here’s the way I see this playing out: Mother Hen gets to claim the mission of all nonprofits it serves; claim the metrics of the money each organization raises and the lives each organization touches; benefit from the outreach of each nonprofit’s marketing efforts; maintain ultimate control over the gala, honorees, location, theme, messaging, etc.; and, most likely, recoup the greatest economic benefit from this gala and yearlong “training program.” Mother Hen, after all, can claim the BIG, sexy project, which ultimately will attract the largest short and long-term donors.

Within the larger city context, Mother Hen has also created yet another “middle-man” approach that is hardly new and barely needed. We can start with the established players that have been doing this much longer and, let’s face it, with greater impact: United Way, New York Community Trust, Impact NYC, even (oh, yeah!) Robin Hood Foundation. You know what activity would have been helpful for a group of hedge fund-wall street/marketing professionals: volunteer at any of these 12 nonprofits; donate to their cause; serve on their board. No, they had to create their OWN middle-man entity because, well, you know some folks “don’t play well with others.”

But the duplicative (or do I really mean to say duplicitous) nature of Mother Hen’s mission a-go-go is not the worst part. Rather, it is that Mother Hen is acting like a school-yard bully calling out a big capacity weakness of the other 12 nonprofit players. The organizations are, in fact, literal poster children—their names are splashed up in big print for all to see: “Look who can’t fundraise or market their work! Don’t worry – Mother Hen is here to save them FOR THE YOUTH! Ah… grassroots orgs… aren’t they so cute?”

I’m confident that another vital strain to this terrible story is one that Vu Le of Nonprofit AF has identified, deconstructed and nailed quite perfectly over time. Vu discusses funders inherent distrust of grassroots, community-based, and POC-led organizations, which characterizes the type of organizations targeted by the Mother Hens of our field. These groups and their leaders are routinely infantilized under a common misperception that they lack capacity and that their small or mid-sized budget must be due, in part, to a lack of business savvy and basic skills. The real investments are going to the established players of the nonprofit field, often led by a white male/female demographic. If you haven’t checked out Vu’s writing on this topic, do it now. He’s one of the most important voices coming out of our field today.

OK, so if we’re going back to capes, voices, heroes and leaders (start with Vu)… let’s also discuss Wes, Robin Hood and Metrics with a capital M. I may be off about Wes, but I’m not wrong that we desperately need strong voices. I also know that these voices can’t come from the business-as-usual crowd. Robin Hood, Mother Hen, and every other private, public and corporate foundation with a lifeblood being pumped from either Wall Street or tech is first and foremost all about the Metrics.

Metrics can be an extremely powerful advocacy tool. Wes discussed the causal connection between metrics, government action and city-wide policy decisions. He believes Robin Hood has the ability to help influence this kind of systemic change in New York City and beyond. It has never been harder for a middle class or impoverished family to live in New York City or get out of poverty. These families desperately need systematic support on the City level, on a policy level, and they will certainly need the kind of money that only a foundation like Robin Hood and other NYC titans have coffered for so long.

I am concerned, however, that Metrics-with-a-capital-M bulldoze the equally serious, everyday work led by some of NYC’s toughest, smartest and most capable nonprofit leaders. You know, the ones that Mother Hen needs to teach and capitalize on their funding and Metrics. There is great work that Metrics can help prove, identify and highlight, but not all.

For instance, my organization struggles to capture the outcomes of families who live in domestic violence safe houses. These families leave our clinic and virtually disappear – the city government routinely jostles them around from shelter to shelter with little to no tracking systems and the families themselves exist in such chaos that phones, lives, situations change with hardly an ability to track one path to the next. And, yet, we provide dental, medical and mental health care – the same services received by nearly all upper-middle to upper class families. None of these families would ever consider needing a metric value to prove the worth of any of their personal healthcare services.

Nearly 100% of our foundation and government donors require metric proof of the worth of these services. We rarely fit into most foundation RFPs: our work is not considered systemically impactful, meaningfully replicable, or technologically sophisticated. On a large-scale metric, it is impossible to track these outcomes. Yet we know on an intrinsic level the value of basic healthcare services to these families. And I’m sure the executive who made a $500,000 contribution to Robin Hood’s last gala can tell you a thing or two about the worth of his mental health professional. His wife probably didn’t miss her son’s last dental visit… but that’s none of my business…

There are many competing and distinct worlds in New York City philanthropy—there are the donors, the organizations, government, corporations, communities, the constituents, the bricks-and-mortar city itself. The more we evolve, it seems, the greater we grow apart. In the focused lens between philanthropists and the organizations they support, we’ve never been more at two ends. Instead of creating monuments to our own egos, and further adding to the unrealistic growth rate of the nonprofit sector, we need to collaborate and consolidate. I’m sure that’s the sales pitch that was given to my friend: “Look, 12 grassroots orgs coming together, working together, benefiting together.” But behind it all is not an altruistic desire to see all ships rise with the high tide… it’s a furtive sacrifice to one’s ego.

We’re not here for metrics, false prophets or to be lonely soldiers bracing against the impossible, desperate poverty battles that so many New Yorkers face every day. We’re here to work together. Jon and I are waiting for the real conversations to begin and the real heroes to step forward. Someone wake us when they show up.

– Sarah







Nonprofit Pet League

The Richardson Family promised their youngest a pet. It was a family affair, and a charitable one. Their first stop was to their private wealth adviser, Henry, at Infidelity.

Mr. R: Henry, it’s time we enrich our son with a charitable endeavor. Our family has a long history of supporting the cultural community in our town, and we want to pass the mantle of our good fortune and generous spirit. Everyday my wife and I are besieged by scores of nonprofits demanding that we give them our money. Just yesterday, I had to scrape 15 NYPIRG millennials off my door and firehose 20 more hurricane rescue groups out of my back lawn. There’s not enough paper towels in this world to throw at them anymore. I’m exhausted.

Henry the Adviser: Mr. R, I hear this story daily. It is deeply painful to have so many men of wealth and power enfeebled by the wretched demands of the increasing volumes of the needy. This is exactly why my company, Infidelity, now holds the largesse of charitable fortunes in the United States. We consider ourselves your gatekeeper, a noble swordsman to beat back the rabble and protector of all that’s worth saving in this world. Mrs. R, please, tell me your thoughts and hopes for instilling your son with the noble spirit of philanthropy.

Mrs. R leans forward. She lifts her sharply pointed fingers into an animated dance of continuous movement, helping to deflect her frozen facial features, made lifeless and indiscernible under the Botox and surgery.

Mrs. R: “Heeeennnrry,” she purrs.…. “Are you working out? What was the question?”

Henry is befuddled. He focuses.

Henry the Adviser: Mr. R, I have the perfect charitable endeavor for your son to cut his “charitable teeth.” It’s called the Nonprofit Pet League. It’s a great starter charity – small, locally-focused, grassroots. You don’t have to make a sizeable contribution, because, as you and I know, the smaller groups are all untested and hungry for any scraps you give them.

In fact, just last week I granted an indigenous advocacy group 3 boxes of twine. Highly scrappy they are – they used the twine to create rope beds for homeless children with twigs and leaves for the mattress and then the executive staff hung themselves with the leftovers. No overhead anymore. It worked out beautifully.

As you know, Mr. R, here at Infidelity, we reserve the largesse of our client’s fortunes for the more reputable, esteemed organizations that can crystallize your legacy for years to come. Places like Yale, your Alma Mater, and the city Museum of Great Importance, of course.

For today, however, let’s focus on Junior R. I’d give you the address, but really you just need to follow Main Street until you reach the edge of town. As soon as you start to hear wailing and people looking disheveled, follow the sound until you hit the site of the former Community Health Center, now shuttered and used mainly to house out-of-work healthcare providers and the remaining nonprofit riff-raff that never got real jobs.

Mr. R: Henry, I knew I could count on you. This sounds grand.

Mr. R, Junior R and Mrs. R arrive at the Nonprofit Pet League. Mrs. R immediately breaks her 6-inch heels on the cracked sidewalk, while Junior R secures his evening plans with a yacht to the Bahamas, 6 friends, 3 cases of Moet and 3 escorts. He’s 16 of course.

The door creaks open and they are immediately besieged by a former docent from The Museum of Lesser Importance.

Docent: Welcome to the Nonprofit Pet League! I am Farida and will serve as your host and guide. Here at the Nonprofit Pet League, we believe in matching your passion for charitable good with the perfect nonprofit pet.

Mr. R: Farida, let’s start with your health care providers. I hear we can get a fantastic Hispanic Medical Assistant that is about to be deported thanks to DACA. A temporary commitment might be best.

Docent: Sorry, Mr. R, Julio went out for a sandwich with his pregnant wife last night, and 6 ICE agents tackled him as he was helping her across the street. We haven’t heard from him since.

Mr. R: What does his wife do?

Docent: Andrea’s a whip-smart fundraising generalist that has served a diverse roster of organizations in this county, raising their bottom line in record time and helping expand services across the board.

Mrs. R: (Frowning) Sounds like she’s not house trained. I’m worried about our Afghan… rug, not maid.

Mr. R: Hrmpf… this customer service is questionable. I expect more. Don’t you know who we are? Infidelity just endowed you with $200, 20 jars of peanut butter, 40 loaves of nearly expired Whole Foods brand Kale Cakes, 16 rolls of twine and eight 2 x 4’s.

Docent: I’m sorry, Mr. R, if you’ll excuse me. I have to go make use of that twine.

Junior R: Mummy. Daddy? I’m bored. Can I throw pennies at the homeless? I think our driver has some in his cupholder.

– Sarah







Wizards of Philanthropy

Desperate for ideas on how to raise more money for their plucky little nonprofits, Jon and Sarah attend a fundraising conference, and its keynote speaker time (not to be confused with the equally motivating, yet catchier “Hammer Time”).

600 frisée salads are clinked down gently among each conference goer. Jon nudges Sarah to stay awake, as her blood level dropped precipitously low during the last session, “Direct Mail is fun, Yo!”

He resorts to texting, knowing that she has a reactionary trigger to random texts given the likelihood that her feral children have finally bested their sitter, tied her up with electrical tape, and gone off on some Goonie-like adventure for pirate gold in their suburban backyard.

Jon texts: Sarah, if u don’t wake up, we’ll miss the backstage rush for the Wizards of Philanthropy to sign our canvas giveaway totes from Massive Bank. I mean… who doesn’t want yet another free Massive Bank tote bag?

Jon texts: Also, I need someone to stage an elaborate distraction when I pull out my flask for our coffee.

(Jon flags a hurried frisée server to inquire about the timing of coffee.)

(Sarah wakes with a start, knocks over her water, and clutches the buzzing phone.)

Sarah texts: I haven’t seen Wizards this white since I mistakenly attended that Christian rock concert back in ’89. Woof… they may be from Resurrection Band, guessing by their age… A self-professed academic and a striving “Hey-I’m-hip-and-talk-real-talk-fresh” that hasn’t punched a time clock in a nonprofit for 30 years. Sooo… 60 years of mansplaining awaits us… Why did you wake me up? WTF?!

(Sarah looks at the remains of her frisée and wishes she had a better lunch.)

Sarah texts: Why does a pep talk for our sector’s “Wizards” make me feel so…

Jon texts: Lonely? Self-Loathing? Isolated? Exhausted? Defeated? Necrotic? Narcoleptic?

(Jon looks at his empty water glass and coffee mug, while gently fingering his pocket flask. He wonders in what order he should caffeinate, hydrate and inebriate.)

Sarah texts: All that… yes… hell, we have no shortage of middle-aged white guy keynote combos that haven’t worked in the nonprofit sector for decades. And every 20 minutes they get trotted out, dusted off and elevated like some King of the TED Talk.

Jon texts: IDK… the dude in the wizard hat is about to take the stage. Says he’s a social media sorcerer. He’s even got a white beard and a Gandalf staff.

(Jon gets distracted by the self-proclaimed Media Wizard gesticulating wildly–albeit awkwardly through his billowy blue-starred robe — beside a staid PowerPoint of bulleted “Do’s” and “Dont’s” including #putitintheparkinglot, #sustainabilityiseverything, & #taggingislife.)

Sarah texts: Anyone can be anything in their parent’s basement. And the staff isn’t real Jon. I looks like an over-sized saltless pretzel.

(Easily susceptible to suggestion after eating a mealy frisée salad with brownish dressing that was more mauve than brown, Jon starts to think of pretzels, longingly, lovingly.)

Jon texts: BTW, why was the salad dressing mauve? Effing mauve. I lament my life choices that have led me to know what mauve even looks like, as well as ochre and fuchsia. I also know what gingham is, and damask, and decoupage… why?

Sarah texts: It separates you from the wing-eating, strip-club going, tailgating at a football game, Stop-Kneeling-and-STFU, misogynistic, misanthropic, basic bros of today. Wear that fucking gingham with pride, man!

Jon texts: Speaking of which, I think the Wizard was at Charlottesville… I saw several Tiki torches in the backseat of his car when he pulled up this morning. What do you think his perspective is on growing an audience for grassroots, POC-led orgs focused on social activism as an antidote for community unrest?

Sarah texts: IDK, Jon… what’s whiter than a Wizard mascot who probably sports the sticker “My Other Car is a Broom” on his Tesla. That knowledge/life experience ain’t in this wizard’s hat.

Jon texts: Time to get serious. Coffee shot each time the Wizard says Disruption, YOLO, or Paradigm. You down?

Sarah texts: What, um, yeah, sure. Do U know if Danny Trejo is coming to the Arrow or the Flash? Sorry, distracted by clickbait…

Jon texts: Umm, it’s The Flash. But Trejo can do anything. He’s sort of like Meryl Streep that way.

Sarah texts: Ah! I hope they wrote him in as the Dusk to Dawn Vampire. DC needs a bit more walking undead. Speaking of… is the Wizard really going to saw that life-size Mark Zuckerberg cutout in half?

Jon texts: Why else would he have a Sawzall? It’s certainly not to cut these grape tomatoes. I mean, FFS, why is it always grape tomatoes in these frisée salads? Would it kill someone to throw in a Sungold or a Cherry?

(Jon lines up the leftover grape tomatoes as if they are facing his own personal miniature firing squad.)

Sarah texts: Ooooh, YOLO!!! HE SAID YOLO!!! Coffee shot.

Jon texts: Yea, well, we should have saw that one coming. I mean, haven’t we all wanted to Sawzall Zuckerberg at one point or another?

Sarah texts: Didn’t Trejo chop-up Zuckerberg in “Machete?” Or was it “Machete Kills?”

Jon texts: Neither. But I’m sure if they ever make the sequel “Machete Kills Again… in Space” they’ll work that in.

– Jon & Sarah







I Want My $2

Moving in the New York Metro area requires, at some point, a no good, very bad, terrible experience with movers. Who hasn’t been extorted by a mover at some point, right? My Worst Experience with a Mover did, however, reconfirm a basic belief that the nonprofit sector is more resilient than most, and certainly tougher than a guy with a fleet of 6 trucks who boasts of 1,700 moves.

Two weeks ago my husband and I moved within our town—throw a stone, or our possessions, and you could probably reach point A to B. A friend recommended a moving company run by Joe, who showed up the morning of the move grumbling and twisted up in his man-with-a-truck emotions. Joe felt he underbid the job. He wasn’t haggled. We took the price he gave and booked the job. Joe was given clear instruction, including a walk-through of our house and dimensions of our storage area. My husband works in engineering and construction in NYC. He knows a thing or two about what is needed for any one man-with-a-truck project. This was a basic job. We have a house of stuff. This is our stuff. Move it. Joe wasn’t having it – he decided that his mistake in underbidding was our mistake.

By 6 PM, the job still wasn’t finished and the day grew grim. Joe locked his truck, our possessions inside, and demanded that he be paid in full before the job was finished or else he’d drive away with our possessions. The moment of tension escalated because the crew hadn’t finished collecting everything from the house, but Joe deemed the job done. He reasoned that extortion was the next best step. My husband is one of the most thoughtful and reasonable people I know, but he doesn’t play well with bullies. He’s adept at negotiating with NYC’s toughest crew: developers, contractors, construction workers…men with much larger trucks and a few of which are much more facile with extortion.

There was a moment, upon witnessing my husband’s hellfire fury of expletives and damnations, that I considered how I would spend the better part of that evening hiding a body in our new backyard. I tried to remember exactly which chemical white powder Snoop used in The Wire to quickly decompose bodies in the empty buildings. I also considered the best “we’re not bad people” gift I would have to bestow upon our neighbors, whose children most likely overheard the negotiations. Cookies seemed wholesome enough, but wine might be more realistic for the situation…or an assorted gift basket of rum, vodka, gin and whiskey.

By 6:30, Joe had his check and my husband sent me a link to the Better Business Bureau. At some point, he realized that my ability to flame Joe via social media channels was more prudent than living out the rest of his days at Rikers. He may have also looked around and realized that he had no idea where we packed our shovel.

At 6:45, I was posted outside the van to direct the crew for the remaining 2 hours. Everyone was quiet and moved quickly and I thought about the amount that caused Joe to spend a day dissolving in animosity, bad decision making and ultimately to abandon part of the job: $2,500.

$2,500 is not an insignificant amount in fundraising. For some organizations it’s a major gift, and for most nonprofits it’s a signal of potentially greater wealth if cultivated and accessed correctly. Moreover, if, let’s say, an organization is expecting $4,000 (going by Joe’s calculations), but only receives $2,500, the work still gets done.

Setting aside the more complicated grant-based negotiations of a lesser gift, a straight GOS gift, particularly at this level, does not alter the critical, daily work of the average mid-size nonprofit organization. Where I work, if we don’t secure X grant, or Y gift, our clinic stays open. Homeless mothers and children still receive medical services. Our providers don’t quit. I, fundraiser, don’t quit. In fact, I may spend an entire YEAR cultivating a donor or company only to receive $2,500, and I don’t quit the relationship because I was perhaps expecting more. I’ve spent several years on some relationships with $0 as the count-up, knowing that I could receive tenfold and more (of $2,500) with a little patience, friendship and considerate courting.

And THIS is the daily work of nonprofits. We do more with less and sometimes nothing. As a fundraiser, I experience the joy of securing exactly what is needed and more about 30% of the time. The rest is a tough, grinding slog of difficult donor expectations, limited resources, smallish gifts and the faint promise of something more.

In the communities and cities impacted by Irma and Harvey, there will be nonprofits that won’t receive enough funding to do the necessary work of sheltering, feeding, providing medical care and basic necessities, cleaning, rebuilding, and more. I am confident that those nonprofits won’t quit. They will work long hours; they will be exhausted; they will sacrifice time with their own families to help another; they won’t be paid; they will give their own personal money; they will make sure the job gets done; they will feel like the job is too big, the need is too huge and their contribution is too little. In many ways it will be, because those communities will need a coordinated effort with government support. Trump only hired the Director of FEMA in June, and his 2018 budget plan includes $667M in cuts to help cities and states prepare for these disasters.

One thing I’m pretty sure of, government ain’t helping anytime soon and not in any sort of substantive capacity that is needed.

I am proud to work in an industry that doesn’t quit, but, frankly, I’m also exhausted, watching us continually do more with less. And despite my meandering sidebar/headliner personal story, it was that moment, in my driveway, in the final quiet moments of our move that I wasn’t calm. I was white hot mad. I was angry that, for Joe, his indignity came from one bad bid and he was hell-bent on getting his take. For me, underbidding and doing the job is my everyday. And I put out the best prayer an atheist can to all the nonprofits out there that will spend the coming months and years trying to rebuild Texas and Florida. They will get underbid everyday. And they won’t leave. They won’t quit.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to work through project Q with less and somehow manage to attribute some amount of success to the daily slog. I will also deeply enjoy writing Joe’s Better Business Bureau review.

– Sarah

Finding Joy as a Recovering Development Director

Kids find joy everywhere–like in puddles. The adult would probably say, “Eeks! Gad! Get out of the puddle next to the monkey cages! You’ll get a diseeeeaaase!” Adults sometimes have to study joy, chart a course of action and commit. Every. Damn. Day.

A few months ago my husband and I had three weeks to get our house ready to sell. Prepping a home for buyers in my hood means creating an aggressively perfect environment that is usually created by 50 of Martha Stewart’s best production and design associates. I was out of my league and did what most obsessive, ill-equipped but over-resourced NY-Metro area suburban moms would do: I studied the solution and became maniacal. I read Marie Kondō’s, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” and claimed her mantra: ‘Throw away anything that doesn’t give you joy.’ One filled dumpster and 30 bags of donated stuff later (and, OK, a storage facility), I came close to the bliss that Marie promises. Hell, I may even be skinnier and smarter and my skin more radiant. I rose to the insanity of the house-selling market, but, more, I learned how to let go. As a recovering development director, I can take Kondō one step further: I can thank all my years as a burdened Development Director, having to own and sweat through every element and nuance of a fundraising program. I can honor the past, thank it for what I’ve learned, and then toss it in the dumpster next to my broken NordicTrack.

I have one main goal in my current position as a fundraiser: launch and develop a new foundation to support its parent nonprofit. It’s exciting, and the possibilities for creating a long-term source of support for this particular institution is huge. I love this job, but I get in my own way. It’s like having a conversation with my writing buddy, Jon. We start in one direction, and 4 minutes later our squirrel brain kicks in and the conversation turns from developing a nascent donor base to Jason Mamoa redeeming my lifelong love of Aquaman. At work, I may start the day researching individuals and setting up the next round of meetings, and then all of a sudden I’m volunteering to write content for the new website because I’m convinced I’m the only one who should handle this burden.

One of our new board members jokes that she’s a recovering lawyer, so I’ve now adopted her brisk bio as a recovering Development Director, because I get it. I’ve been a DD for small organizations several times over, which means I’ve been forced to adopt a variety of roles that no single working professional should own—grantwriter, major gifts officer, party planner, all-round writer of just about every publication, HR negotiator, board liaison, program creator…and that’s just the beginning. To be clear, most Development Directors can’t choose what they own – it’s a forced contract with the position. I read many blogs from nonprofit consultants hell-bent on creating their authoritative identity based on voluminous outpourings of thinly conceived advice columns on exactly this topic: focusing one’s fundraising efforts solely on activities that generate revenue. This advice is correct, but focus takes more than a laundry list of “good” and “bad” activities. It takes a mind shift, a mantra and an ability to secure success based on an understanding of priority and outcome.

There’s plenty of necessary fundraising work that doesn’t bring me joy, but I know it’s essential, like organizing a meeting and making sure the food doesn’t suck. Good food makes people happy, and I want people to be happy at my gatherings. If they leave happy, if they are treated well, they will want to help my organization. Bringing joy means bringing revenue. Does writing content on a new website bring me joy; am I the only one with the golden words to inspire a new gift? Quite simply, no–endless communications writing is a barrier between time spent in direct communication with donors versus time spent writing, editing, rewriting (doesn’t every fundraising office receive at least 15 rounds of edits on any and all external communication?), and sweating out the loss of many weeks when I wasn’t pursuing donors. I am constantly fighting with my squirrel brain that jumps on any activity that appears to solve an immediate challenge to my department.

To be fair, my charge is more than just developing one board. It encompasses all of the individuals and partnerships that will secure revenue and resources for my organization, but my charge is not anything external to this main goal. It’s a struggle to recover. In the midst of my house purging I thought I threw out the one thing I realized I truly loved—a green faux leather jacket. For 3 days, I damned Kondō and her fools gold of relief from my life’s clutter. I considered that I may love a jacket more than my family. Eventually the jacket was found by the plucky daughter of a dear friend, and I returned to the purge.

This week I finally heard from a program officer of a major foundation that we’ve been courting for capital support. Despite my many attempts to get in touch with her since March, it was our July newsletter that caught her attention and she responded. For this particular round, I had to write and publish the newsletter because of a recent departure of our social media manager. I received the program officer’s note, considered what she said triggered the response, and for several seconds I mused, “Maybe I should be writing the newsletter.” In less than a minute, I pushed back the insanity and responded to her message, and I didn’t have to write another newsletter for her to schedule that meeting.

– Sarah

Bad Pony

Photo courtesy of Farewell Debut.

It was nearly a decade since I’d last seen Laura. We’d only met once, when she gave me a tour of the youth center she worked at. We instantly bonded as two fellow Development Directors, swapping battle stories and the inevitable peaks and lows of fundraising for scrappy organizations that were beloved by their communities and, well, us. I didn’t know all the details, but I knew her parting from the organization was painful and sudden.

I was now the chief fundraiser for the center and was desperate for any hint of historical knowledge, since Laura was the last true professional fundraiser in the role, replaced by a scattering of transient, warm bodies that unsuccessfully pushed papers for 8 years. In those years, relationships iced over, funding ended, and the world of fundraising in NYC changed dramatically during the cooling. I also wanted to meet up with Laura, because I generally don’t fair too well in cultivating fundraising friends. The NY Metro area tends to mold its ilk into well-polished pods of professionals that don’t break form often. Last we met, Laura had a penchant for blue hair, 1970s punk and big necklaces. I wanted to find a friendly warrior — I figured we could at least commiserate on our battle scars post-2008 recession, post-Bloomberg and the golden age of our profession, when the word “sustainability” seemed reasonable.

It wasn’t the warmest reception. We met in a dark, cavernous restaurant on the lower west side that had airs of reclaimed wood, warehouse and vaguely asian finishings. I threw out a large hug the moment we met, while she stood her ground and gave a light embrace that belied the solid fighter that I knew stood before me.

Our meeting progressed only slightly better. We didn’t bond like I had hoped. We didn’t trade war stories like Wonder Woman and Athena, warrior goddesses that conquered and brought justice to all. We shared stories with caution, because our stories didn’t have heroic endings. I don’t think Laura quite trusted my intent, as I was now representing a place that caused her pain. I have too many nonprofit stories without heroic endings, but I draw power in what I can rewrite and re-envision for the future. This wasn’t a power lunch, however, and it felt more like two bad ponies hunched over overpriced salads lacking in basic sustenance. Ponies once beloved by their organizations, by their leaders, but now relegated to the outer pasture, broken, joyless and fairly irascible.

Development Directors – the Wonder Women, Michonne’s, and Burka Avenger’s of the field – embrace the cause, the organization, the donors, board, the program staff… hell… we even cozy up to the financial directors, accountants, maintenance… anyone that makes it all happen every day. Our faith and love runs deep. We obsessively devour all information that feeds into the state of the cause: the donors, trends, markets, politics… it all matters. We become enveloped by the cause, both intellectually and emotionally. We are not, however, perfect. For example, most mortal women aren’t the 21st c. reboot of Wonder Woman where apparently nothing can kill her.

Personally, I am a ninja grant-writer and strategist, but major gifts is sometimes my kryptonite. I’ve refined my donor relations and execution over the years, but my bad pony story came about nearly two decades earlier at the start of my career. I built an enviable fundraising program from the ground up, leveraged heavily on grants, a successful annual event and appeal and a growing communications platform. The Executive Director wanted more–she wanted a Development Director that could take that success and quickly turn it into a major gifts program with barely the time, planning, training or resources needed to build this new program. She wanted a pony that could do more, and she grew increasingly frustrated by the seeming limits of my talents. I grew increasingly frustrated by the limits of her talents, but I wasn’t the one with the power. It was her call to put the bad pony in a corner.

One of the most painful, shell-shock moments in my career was the day she pulled me aside, alone in a workshop room, and expressed her dissatisfaction in my work and my “bad attitude.” She tapped her watch to show that my time was limited. The message was clear: ‘shape up girl, or get out.’ When I walked back in the office the next day I resolved to do 3 things: 1) I would be the happiest fucking employee she had ever seen; 2) I would make things ‘right’ in whatever combination of tasks or goals she deemed suitable; and 3) I would leave. It wasn’t a heroic departure, but I met my goals, and I was gone in six months.

I still love that organization. It still brings me joy. I still love the people that I worked alongside for so many years. There are many narratives to my time at the organization, and the days leading up to when I left, but that day, at the restaurant with Laura, I was back to being the bad pony. There was something in the timing of our meeting, and the manner in which I was coming to her that brought it all back. Laura shared her story–not all of it, but enough. I shared mine. We didn’t draw strength from one another. We didn’t bond. We should have–it should have been a fantastic reunion. We should have ordered steak or definitely something with more protein. I can blame the pretentious hipster garbage that dangled all around us; I can blame the sad salads, but mostly I blame the profession.

The nonprofit field is drenched in stats, surveys, opinions, and every quantifiable indicator that development directors are miserable. The best study to date, Underdeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing the Nonprofit Field, is now buried in a deep google search. Underdeveloped found that most Development Directors are deeply unhappy, last less than 2 years in their jobs and can readily tick off at least 20 reasons why they feel fairly defeated and otherwise abused. There are about 50 blog posts that could spin off on how & why this has come to be, but not a lot of consultants, executive directors, board members or senior leaders really understand (or talk about) what it’s like to be the chief fundraiser.

I’m not quite sure if you can, or should, cross a superhero with a beloved pony – it’s weird, but I know what it feels like to be both. Mostly, I don’t know what it feels like to be a fallen superhero. I just know what it feels like to be a bad pony. So I’m going to keep re-writing this narrative, because no one else is writing the handbook for getting out of the pasture. I hope that someday Laura and I have lunch again, but this time we’ll order steak and Manhattans. Our stories will be about heroes and fighters and warriors–it will be about us.

– Sarah


Nonprofit Apocalypse Camp – Designated Leader: Fantastic 400

And now, another installment in our search for safe harbor during the nonprofit apocalypse…


It was 20 weeks since Jon and Sarah’s nonprofit survivalist group escaped from the Sorgan Manly-led Corporate Social Responsibility camp. The team was fading. Some were hallucinating, others were considering cannibalism, but vowed that they would only eat those that rejected their tribe: private and corporate foundation officers and financiers. They were miles from those camps, however, and with bloodied hands and feet they continued their momentum together, bonded by a mission of unity, compassion, and a quest for the common good.

Times were grim. For the past five days, in her delusional state, Sarah routinely offered the survivors imaginary expresso from Trevor’s van der Westen Speedster. They accepted every time. At week 21, a few of the survivors considered eating Sarah, confusing her love of bourgeois comfort with Trevor. Of course, the survivalists, weeks removed from Trevor’s camp, never got to enjoy his ironic comeuppance. It seems he was hitting on what he thought was an aspiring Wilhelmina model, but it turned out to be just a garden variety 80 lb. decaying zombie with a sense of fashion.

This time the gate was gorgeous. A wrought iron entryway to a resplendent garden still in bloom – one that curiously had a working fountain that was even fashioned after the Trevi Fountain in Rome. Jon hesitantly drew closer to the gate as if he were steeling himself to approach the Eye of Sauron. Sarah lithely sprinted forward and vaulted herself into the hard iron flourishes with an awkward sprawl. Less than two seconds later she was greeted by Jodi, who jolted Sarah’s exhausted corpse away from the entrance with a garden hoe. After securing an appropriate personal distance between her and Sarah, Jodi quickly turned her frown upside down and exclaimed, “Helloooooo!!! I am soooo tickled that you all have come to visit Fantastic 400. I am your host, Jodi, the first entry point to our superfantastic community. We are a group of 400 passionate women dedicated to making a difference in the apocalypse. We pool our resources so that we can leverage our impact in a highly visible way. Our goal is to welcome transformational survivors that can raise the bar for all of us, and keep us entertained while we throw fabulous parties.”

Jon slumped forward, leaned heavily on his falchion and muttered…”Oh fuck, not again.” Sarah, clutching the garden hoe as if it was a smoked turkey and Manchego panini, exclaimed with delight, “Yes! Whatever! We’re in! We’re in! What are the guidelines?!”

Jodi shifted in her Gucci loafers, threw out her hip, placed her hand squarely in the curve of her torso, and like a deranged cheerleader, preceded to share the Fantastic 400 Rules of Engagement to the plucky group of nonprofit survivalists, desperate for food, shelter and safety. “The first step is submitting a 20-page LOI. We were so inspired by the model employed by our foundation friends, that my sister-from-another-mother Ferme is letting us use her LOI template. How AWW-some! It’s like, you don’t have to do more work, right?!! We’re considering a cross-camp collaborative application process. Patricia at Sorgan Manly is thinking about it. We still haven’t heard from Trevor, though. Anyway, if all 400 Fantastic women decide that your LOI is the Best-of-the-Week, then you get to come INSIDE our gate and share your story during our evening ‘Stare.’ How amazing for you… all 400 Fantastic women will be listening to your stories of tragedy, death, and hopelessness over a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. You like white, right?” For a second Jodi stares in the distance – she drops her head downward and says quietly: “Now… I can help you craft your LOI and storyboard for the evening Stare. Normally, I’d suggest you ask a ten year old to read it first to make sure it’s easy to understand. Were any of you forced to kill a partner, parent or child?”

A trickle of blood pearls down Jon’s sword as he death-grips the hilt: “Jodi. I have three questions for you. How many zombies have you killed? How many people have you…” Sarah interrupts: “Jon! I have been serving dustachino for two weeks, and I’m pretty sure Grace and Steve are going to eat me if we leave this place. And you know how sarcastic Grace gets when she’s hungry. Who wants to be mocked while being eaten?” Sarah pulls a scraggle of loose leaf papers from her backpack: “Jodi – here’s your common application, LOI, or whatever the hell you’re calling it these days. Mind the bloodstains.” Jodi blinks, accepts the papers and lets the group know she’ll be, “Back in a Jiff… or up to 2 to 4 days!!”

16 days later.

Jodi saunters back to the gate: “Helloooo – my superfantastic survivors! Are you ready for some exciting news?!!” The group of nonprofit survivalists can only muster a collective shrug. The gates creak open and Jodi vaults through the threshold exclaiming with arms spread wide in a Jesus Christ pose: “The Fantastic 400 welcome YOU, our latest beleaguered, downtrodden-yet-fierce resisters to share your deepest, darkest moments with 400 FAAANNTAASTIC women. After we hear your story, we will then decide if your trials, your losses, your dreams, your future can transform our community and create the kind of high-impact resilience that makes the apocalypse such a special place!!”

Jon looks at Sarah and whispers, “We go in. We do the fuckin’ Stare. And then we kill them all, right?”

Sarah turns, and with a clarity belying her previous desperation, says, “Fuck yeah… and I got Jodi.”

– Sarah and Jon


Finding Nemo… or an Honoree

Those of us in the nonprofit world know that gala season is upon us, and with it, hope springing anew for buckets of cash to sustain our paltry efforts to make the world a better place. The common misconception by those with real jobs (i.e., anything but what we have chosen to do for a living) is that we get to “chill” after the event. Kick back, enjoy a tall one or three (who are we kidding, more like six), and generally coast until approximately six weeks before next year’s gala. Isn’t that how it works?

Us war-weary nonprofit veterans know that once gala ends, the search for next year’s honoree begins. It’s a yearly tradition among the gala throwing nonprofit crowd that involves at least 3-6 months of prep and research, meetings, emails, hair pulling (usually not our own), bad ideas, wasted energy, cringing, eye rolling, groaning, the occasional flogging, and no shortage of regret.

The search always begins in earnest because, most likely, there are few people worth honoring that haven’t already been honored by at least five other organizations and asked by at least 20 more. If we could have one sacrificial Mayan wish during this spring gala season and beyond (OK… really if we’re talking about events, we’d have at least 20) it’s this: May the nonprofit community come together in harmony, unity and downright mutiny and force the “Honoree Model” of event planning to swan dive off of Captain Jack Sparrow’s plank into shark infested waters.

It starts with an equation. A master set of identifiers that we use to torture ourselves, and our teams, into thinking that this unreasonable alliance of characteristics can be demonstrated by anyone living, let alone anyone within our social/relationship network and thereby remotely attainable. In more clear terms, picking an honoree starts with an equation designed by Pinhead, whose only goal is to create the lament configuration, steal souls and force you to cringe, look away and generally question why you chose Hellraiser on Netflix for your first date. Surely a Jane Austen adaptation would have been more appropriate.

For safety purposes, we recommend that after you read the following equation, be sure to show it to another nonprofit professional within 7 days, lest the ghosts of Leona Helmsley and her pampered pooches emerge from your smart phone and drag your soul into the well-ish caverns of her Greenwich Mansion. We’re going with The Ring theory on this one.

So, here’s the equation…

Mission Fit + Past philanthropy + Accomplishments + Reasonably “well-known” and therefore can attract new audiences + Propensity for “Making the World a Better Place” MULTIPLIED BY  Name recognition/cache in the community Address book of Celebs, Wealthy Friends and Corporate/Media connections DIVIDED BY # of times said honoree has already been an honoree (i.e., hint, 42 is too many) + Overestimating their potential philanthropic contribution to the organization (i.e., just because said honoree gave $100k to the local University that her entire family attended, doesn’t mean she’s going to give that amount to your tiny childcare center) + The costs associated with paying for the honoree’s entourage (i.e., you’re going to pay for a hotel suite for his Aunt Tilly flying in from Saskatchewan to see her favorite nephew being honored) + Lack of Media/Celebrity interest in the honoree (i.e., sorry, nobody cares that the potential honoree wrote a haiku collection 37 years ago about cheese) + Honoree’s lack of mission fit (i.e., umm, maybe our Anti-Defamation non-profit shouldn’t be  honoring someone that’s being sued for discrimination) + Honoree’s minimal contribution to “Making The World A Better Place” (i.e., she’s a narcissistic jackass with a propensity for throwing her shoes at the hired help while screaming, “Don’t you know who I am!”) + Honoree’s potential for shenanigans at the event (i.e., last time he was honored, he hijacked the mic for 90 minutes to regale the crowd with the minutia of financial practices in post-colonial America) + Assorted X Factors (i.e., asking for a glass carriage ride to the event, yellow peeps in the dressing room, a 10-top table for the honoree’s rescue dogs, etc.).

Phew. Exhausting, isn’t it?  All that math just to get to some esoteric sigma that’s bullshit anyway because, well, let’s face it, the Board President is still going to blurt out publicly in the Event Planning meeting that she wants you to cold call Adele and ask her to be this year’s honoree. Because. Rich. Famous. She likes her music.

So, plucky nonprofit warriors you have your mission which begins right after your upcoming gala ends. We know, you’re unreasonably busy with unreasonable tasks, so you don’t have much time. But we challenge you to these two very important and very reasonable tasks:

1) Find a nonprofit buddy and share the love, but really, make sure they read the equation; and

2) Pick up the nearest sword and keep advancing on the deck. Making the “Honorees Model” Walk the Plank is just the first of many fine sacrifices we can make to advance the field.

– Sarah and Jon


A Consideration of New Careers

zombieAs a new administration plots its bloodthirsty vengeance on federally funded social services and the cultural sector, Development professionals everywhere wait for the next move in this brave new world. Waiting on the brink is exhausting, mostly because as a fundraiser, your charge is to control the situation. Every day, with every program, donor, mode of operations, income and expense stream, staffing pattern, and the like, you need to predict multiple scenarios for the future in the hope that today’s actions will lead to tomorrow’s funding. Since the new normal involves Biff Tannen, the Bundy brothers and a gang of Nazi-apologists occupying Washington and playing King Joffrey against a terrorized nation, it’s hard to make predictions for tomorrow. So, in this new reality, Jon and Sarah grab a coffee and wade into the silent, still waters of possibility as they consider how their skill set will fare in the coming nonprofit apocalypse. 

Sarah: What about Zombie Porn?

Jon: Yeah, great… wait… what??!!!

Sarah: Zombie. Porn. Listen, it is sort of a thing already, and I’d rather not go into the details of my research, but I think we can really blow this thing out. I started my skills-list with “tragedy porn,” and I realized that with my – and our – arts and writing backgrounds, horror affinity and daily salesmanship of tragic real-life scenarios, that we could be, like, The Walking Dead for the sex industry. This could be Yuge! And Trump is totally not going to touch porn – we both know that, right? Him, porn.

It’s important that it’s written and directed from a perspective of intersectionality and empowerment for women, particularly because we’ll have at least 40% of the proceeds go to Planned Parenthood. Or heck, we’ll give money to all the nonprofits facing life-changing cuts like the national parks, PBS, National Endowment for the Arts, civil legal services, etc. Seems only fair… they are all set to lose billions in Federal funding. We both know a bunch of actors, although this may not be their “thing.” What do people shoot porn on these days, iPhones? Do you need a zoom lens? Hey, didn’t you say you have a friend that writes Vampire Porn?

Jon: Um, yea, I do, and he says it’s very lucrative. But, Vampires are different. You can write tone, mood in a Vampire narrative. But Zombies? How do you even write dialog?  They only grunt and growl.

Sarah: Exactly! That’s perfect for Porn. It’ll be easy.

Jon: True, but, it’s just not creative. Besides, I want to feel inspired by what I do, like I’m improving myself, challenging myself on some fundamental and metaphysical level. And that during my journey of self-discovery, I’m also improving the world. I don’t know, Zombie Porn just doesn’t seem right for my idiom.

Sarah: Right. I forgot. Your fascination with Captain America and all things Apple Pie.

Jon: Gluten Free and Vegan Apple Pie.

Sarah: Whatever.

Jon: Besides, if our entire industry is going to be torn asunder by the “Mangled Apricot” as if he were doing shots of Jaegermeister while playing social service Jenga with his Frat buddies on a Wednesday night, then I’ll be damned if I take my skills to the recesses of the Dark Internet in exchange for Bitcoins and Mario Brother hacks. We should use our skills to resist. Fight back. Like Jyn Erso and the Rebel Alliance or Jon Snow and the Men of the North.

Sarah: Last I checked we were short one blaster and an army of Wildlings.

Jon: Hell with that! Let our words be our blasters. Let the prose we create inspire an army. We will become the engineers of a brave and bright new future for us all.

Sarah: Jon, we can’t even get the local Community Foundation to give us a grant. Their largest gift went to a start-up music therapy program for refugee kittens with feline AIDS. It was crowned as a model of local sustainability! The biggest army that I know dominates the many tiered rankings of our professional networking affiliates–consultants. They can teach you how the blaster works, but they ain’t gunna hold it, and they’ll always tell you your aim is true.

Jon: I’m sure we know at least 60 people that would read our passionate entreaties.

Sarah: 60? That’s not an army, that’s a Platoon, and you and I are nothing more than a fire team. We’re hopelessly outgunned, outmanned, outnumbered, out-planned.

Jon: You’re a buzz-kill Lin Manuel-Miranda.

Sarah: You know nobody outside of the New York area gets your “Hamilton” references, right?

Jon: Okay – Let’s not look at this from an interest or impact perspective. Let’s look at this from a skills perspective. What job requires the ability to turn a phrase, albeit in a slightly humorous, concise format, while enduring constant rejection and occasional abuse?

Sarah: Blogger?

Jon: We’re fucked.

Sarah: ….So no Zombie Porn?

– Sarah and Jon