Emperor’s new clothes

Everyone knows the story. Emperor hires the best tailor in the land. Tailor claims that the new clothes will be invisible to the hopelessly stupid. Emperor parades naked before his subjects. Child burst out with what he sees. Everyone else, unwilling to agitate the emperor, keep up the pretences. The town crier, eager to gain favor, proclaims the child as stupidest in the empire. The public blames stupid child on education system. A think tank for revamping the education system is formed. Schools are restructured to grade students based on how well they can see the emperor’s new clothes.

“Strange times are these in which we live when old and young are taught in falsehoods school. And the person that dares to tell the truth is called at once a lunatic and fool.” ~ Plato

Theology in grief

The girl that i love passed away in a car wreck twenty-six days ago. My initial reaction was that of guilt. Guilt that i should have treated her better. Guilt that i should have offered to drive her. Guilt that somehow this was the devils revenge on me. Looking back, it was a huge dose of arrogance that i managed to tie her death back to me. More importantly, guilt over this incident gave too much credit to the devil; taking God out of the picture. If i am to claim to know an omnipresent God, i have to believe that God is not just an old man riding on fluffy white clouds whisking her away to a place with even more fluffy white clouds. That the same God, that i saw mound and shape her throughout her life, was with her when she got into the car and after.

With God in the picture, my mind began to wonder why this could still happen. Was the world, as described by an old pastor, a constant war between God and the devil, with the devil occasionally winning a battle? No, the constant war in a fallen world perspective lacks an understanding in the power of God. With the way my life is lived, i am not just a far easier target to take out, but also am definitely far less worthy of God’s protection. The same omnipotent God, who i have witnessed change the world, could easily have saved her.

So why did a God who was both present and able to save her let her die? Did He let her die or was it part of God’s divine plan? Maybe it was for a greater good? (Although i have no doubt that greater good would come from this, i do not believe that her death was to allow greater good). Again, this did not jibe with the loving God that i know. The same God who spent considerably efforts to reach me through my over-sized ego, did it not because of “the greater good”. (If this was the case, we all know that i am not worth the effort). God did it because He loves each one of us individually. And the same God who loves us individually would not harm her just for the purpose of “the greater good”.

So why did she die? I am a Christian who is willing to admit that i do not know. This does not mean i will stop grieving. This does not mean i will stop shaking an angry fist at God demanding answers. This means that, in my humanly desires to rationalize her death, i will not theologically reduce the presence, the power, or the love of God. For although reducing an aspect of God will provide easy answers, they are not the right ones in respond to grief.

The side hug

Continued from previous post…

The creepy guy who is only there to flirt with the female volunteers. The guy/gal who thinks that your organization is their personal gossip room.

You all know who I am talking about, and you probably have a few of these people in your organization’s volunteer pool. Your volunteer coordinator has tried talking to them, he/she has even tried reassigning them to different task with no success. These individuals are not only unproductive to your organization, with enough of them, they have a side effect of turning productive volunteers away -think the creepy guy scaring all your female volunteers away-. We shall call these people “destructive volunteers for this post”.

In the carrot or stick expression, it is widely accepted that organizations should not use the stick on its volunteers. Therefore most volunteer organizations utilizes bigger carrots to attract productive volunteers -think boy scout badges-, hoping that the increase productive volunteer count will offset the destructive ones -there are entire academic fields dedicated to this-. However, as an organization matures, this usually becomes an increasing challenge as the destructive volunteers have a way sticking around while other organizations compete for the attention of your productive ones.

Back to the carrot and stick expression. It might not be kosher to use a stick on destructive volunteers, but we can certainly deprive them of the carrot. Thus, one of the organizations, Renovo Ministries, implemented “The Side Hug” -the side hug has been made fun of as a Christian fundamentalist moment, but it is also extremely useful in removing the carrot from those who joined the organization in hopes of getting in close physical contact with those of the opposite gender-. *And just to be clear, if you read two articles down, you will realize i really appreciate, and have nothing against, front hugs among close friends.*

Another carrot removal policy that could be employed is limiting the organization’s contact list to “key” individuals (key=those less likely to spread gossip). These two policies have personally been successful in removal of destructive volunteers without overly offending them. This destructive volunteers gradually stopped coming because they were no longer able to find the “incentives” that got them there in the first place.

So what carrot removing policy do you need to employ in your organization to get rid of the few destructive individuals? *Warning: As necessary as these policies are, you will probably look like the bad guy/gal. Maybe that is why it is such an unpopular discussion to take about, as even less commonly implemented.

Creaming the crop

Continued from previous post…

My previous post was not a lament of the state of the nonprofit marketing industry, but rather a celebration of it. During my undergrad days, my favorite classes were from a program call LAMP -my favorite because it was filled with people really passionate about their field of research- . It is not a very hard program to get into, but through self-selection (intentional or not), managed to attract the best students from the University. You see, LAMP is not a standalone major -you had to take it on top of another major-, leaving only the really motivated willing to go through the process.

Much in the same way as LAMP, the nonprofit marketing industry filters out unsuitable people. A side effect of the pop culture’s portrayal of those in the marketing industry as flashy, is that it then attracts many with an attention seeking personality. This might initially be seen as disastrous for an industry that relies on the agent to passionate about promoting the cause -NOT him/herself-. However, the lack of credit/recognition allocation -as described in my previous post-, filters out all by the most caused focused individuals, ones truly suitable for the job. In my currently short stint, I am truly honored to be working in an industry full of individuals with great passion and talent, and to be calling them my colleague and friend.

Next post on how elements of creaming the crop could be beneficial to your organization…

International hug a nonprofit marketer day

Contrary to pop culture references, marketers -at least the good ones- are trained to be inconspicuous. A marketer’s role is to draw attention a product, service or cause, while stepping into the background to avoid being a distraction. Compound this professional role be inconspicuous with the traditional nonprofits’ view of marketing -that attention seeking is not proper for the industry-, and it is easy to see why nonprofit marketers often fades into obscurity.

During my currently very short stint in nonprofit marketing, I’ve already had the displeasure of seeing too much attrition from this industry. This is partially due to living in a college town, where there is a limitless supply of bright eyed students who upon discovering the power of the media, tries to wrestle it to serve a cause they are passionate about. Unfortunately for many of them, they quickly get ‘burned out’ due to isolation for the people they serve and the lack for support from organizations still skeptical about the use of media tools.

So here’s my proposed solution to the problem: Make Oct 31st the annual International Hug a Nonprofit Marketer Day (IHNPMD). Why Oct 31st? Coz it my birthday, plain and simple (Don’t judge me; you can start your own IHNPMD on your birthday).

Stay tuned for the next blog post for more of this topic on a more professional level…