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A Non-Understanding Of Non-Profits

, , , | Learning | September 6, 2017

(I work for a non-profit arts organization. Among other things, we organize arts-oriented trips to New York City for local schools. It is a delicate balance to create a trip that includes most attractions that teachers want, is affordable for students, and covers costs for the staff who lead the trip. A teacher has just made a new request that would require a lot of juggling to maintain this balance.)

Supervisor: “Okay, ma’am. We can include [Attraction #1] in the itinerary, but then we would need to cut [Attractions #2 and #3]. Are you sure you want to make this change?”

Teacher: “I don’t want to cut things! I just want you to add [Attraction #1]!”

Supervisor: “We can’t do that without raising the cost for students or taking out of our profit.”

Teacher: “But you are a NON-profit! You shouldn’t be worried about making a profit!”

Supervisor: “We still need to make enough money to compensate our staff for their travel expenses and the time they’ve spent planning the trip.”

Teacher: “Why do YOU get to make money off this trip? I’M not making any money!”

Supervisor: “You are a public school teacher. That’s how you make your money.”

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In A Bad Mon-Daze

| Working | May 31, 2016

(I work as a volunteer organizer for a nonprofit group and one of the main ways we bring in long-term volunteers is through doing individual meetings with people that want to volunteer. This is a pretty typical phone call to set up a meeting with interested potential volunteers.)

Me: “Hi, is [Potential Volunteer] available?”

Potential Volunteer: “Speaking. May I ask who’s calling?”

Me: “This is [My Name] with [Nonprofit Group], calling about your interest in volunteering with us.”

Potential Volunteer: “Oh, hi! How are you?”

Me: “I’m doing great! I was hoping that the two of us would be able to set up a meeting in the next week to chat about volunteer opportunities that might interest you.”

Potential Volunteer: “Sure. What type of meeting would this be?”

Me: “Oh, just something very casual. Usually I’ll meet people for a cup of coffee or at the library.”

Potential Volunteer: “Okay, how about 7:30 or 8?”

Me: *wow that’s early* “Is that am or pm?”

Potential Volunteer: “AM. You said coffee! We have to meet in the morning, then. You said coffee!”

Me: “Ha ha, well, I guess you’re right; I did. What day would work for you?”

Potential Volunteer: “This Monday. Let’s meet at [Coffee Shop near her, but 10 miles from me].”

Me: “Okay. 8 am Monday at [Coffee Shop] it is. I will see you there.”

(The day before our meeting I did a routine check-in with her to make sure she still wanted to have a business meeting at 8 am on a Monday, and she insisted that she did. Monday morning rolled around and she never showed up. When I called her to see if she was just running incredibly late she did not answer, and I have yet to hear back. Never agree to 8 am Monday meetings.)

One-Time Is All It Takes

| Working | January 14, 2016

(A few months back, I gave my information to a grassroots peace organization in my area and became a donating member. I realized almost immediately after that, as a full-time college student, I don’t really have the money to make a monthly donation.I make efforts right away to cancel my commitment; I messaged the person that signed me up several times on Facebook, I called the organization four or five times and left messages (no one ever answered!), and I emailed them. I start to feel like I’m being scammed, though online reviews for the organization say they’re likely not malicious, just disorganized. After two months, nervous and upset that I’m getting no response whatsoever, I just cancel my credit card and get a new one. Soon after, a representative from the organization calls me, and the following conversation occurs.)

Employee: “I’m calling from [Peace Organization]. I see you listed as having been a donating member in the past, and we appreciate your support! However, our efforts are far from over, and I just wanted to ask if you’d be willing to sign up again!”

Me: “I’m sorry, and I do appreciate the work you’re trying to do, but the last time I was donating I tried to cancel my commitment and I got no response at all. I called a bunch of times. I don’t know if I’m comfortable giving you my information again until I know that’s better organized.”

Employee: “I’m sorry, and I have no idea how that happened! I don’t deal with that end of things. Still, if you could make just a one time donation, you would have no obligations afterwards!”

Me: “Well, yes, but like I said, I’m really not comfortable giving out my information again, after what happened.”

Employee: “But even just a one time donation could be such a big help! I’m sure it was just some kind of miscommunication.”

Me: “There wasn’t any communication at all. I made efforts to cancel, and I didn’t get any sort of response. Once again, even a one time donation would involve giving out my credit card information.”

Employee: “Right, well, I’ll talk to someone about that. Now, about that donation.”

Me: “I’m not comfortable donating at this time.”

Employee: “It would just be the one instance, with no obligation to donate after the fact, or in following months! And of course, you can cancel at any point, and take your information out of the system.”

Me: “All right, but the last time I tried to do that it didn’t work. As I have said, repeatedly.”

Employee: “But surely just a one time donation can’t be that much of a hassle!”

(This conversation went back and forth for a while until I got frustrated with trying to make him understand and just told him no and hung up.)

C++ Code: The ‘C’ Means Contagious

| Working | September 14, 2015

(I work in IT Support for the staff of a small non-profit association. I get called to an office because someone is having an issue with their computer. Upon walking in:)

Me: “Oh, look, it’s the blue screen of death!”

Staff Mate #1: “What? Is it really called that?”

Me: “Well, that’s just the well-known slang term; it’s really called a Windows Stop Error.”

Staff Mate #1: “Why is it called the blue screen of death?”

Me: “Because it can mean that there’s something fatally wrong with your computer, but 99 times out of 100, it’s a minor driver error or something easily fixable like that.”

Staff Mate #2 *reaching for her computer monitor with a look of horror on her face* “Oh my god! Blue screen of death? How do I make it so my computer doesn’t catch it?!”

Me: “…it doesn’t work that way.”

Not At Home With The Phone

, | Working | June 2, 2015

(I do some work in this organization while I am in college. I’ve been left alone in the office for the first time when the phone rings.)

Me: *picks up the phone* “Hello!” *I cringe when I realize the way I greeted the caller* “Sorry, sorry! I meant, um, [Organization], good evening.”

Caller: *between laughs* “First time with the office phone, uh?”