Mark Bult Design: San Francisco, CA, Established 1988

Web design and development for small and large business, e-commerce, b2b, b2c, SAAS, and community websites. User experience design and usability testing.


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Things I don't miss one damn bit about working in the nonprofit sector

Okay, at the risk of sounding like I still have sour grapes (well, maybe I do, whattya gonna do about it?), I was thinking last night about my job today in relation to my job a year ago, and this list started coming to me.

So, in no paricular order, things I don't miss one damn bit about working in the nonprofit sector:
  • Coworkers who have no idea how to use their computers.
  • So-called environmentalists who don't even know the basics of office recycling.
  • Aged receptionists who fall asleep at the front desk.
  • People making requests for design services by using such laughably antiquated terminology that it's obvious they have absolutely no clue what they're talking about.
  • Having to be the in-house tech when it certainly wasn't my job, I wasn't being paid for it, and I had other important work to do.
  • Having to use computers that make 386 machines look fast.
  • Having to buy my own software and hardware just to get my job done. To the tune of hundreds of dollars a year, usually.
  • Having people say thank you but never actually showing you that they meant it. You value what I do? Prove it. Pay me enough to live on.
  • Board meetings.
  • Constant moaning from certain individuals who dragged everyone around them into a downward spiral of inertia.
  • Coworkers who don't listen or remember what you say, no matter how many times you say it.
  • Tex's singing.
  • Working with an overwhelming majority of people who have absolutely no concept of what you do and its value to the organization.
  • Always having 190% more to do than is possible to do in the time and salary alloted for your job. In other words, working at a place that has no idea what it takes to do your job, why it's important, how complicated it is, what sort of resources it takes, etc. ad nauseum.
  • Staff meetings.
  • Never having a budget for your project. Ever.
  • Having to raise your own salary.
  • Having to do 17 different jobs.
  • Having to update the EcoCalendar every week.
  • Having to fix other people's mistakes, even though you've shown them how to do it right about a million times, written an extensive manual, and constantly remind them how to do it the right way.
  • Working in a place where it seems any sense of fashion or aesthetic fell into a black hole sometime around 1996.
  • Having to try to keep a straight face when someone uses phrases like "You're putting out a real negative energy."
  • Equally, trying not to roll my eyes when we sponsored events like sunrise ceremonies.
  • The PCC building. Which is an ugly concrete hunk of shit.

5 Comments

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this brutally honest post. I sometimes feel guilty for my negative thoughts about my nonprofit experiences -- So good to hear someone express how they really feel about it.
Jen E.

6/08/2005 10:24:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ah c'mon, you can't pick on Tex. he's so cool

--Y

6/08/2005 11:00:00 AM

 
Blogger espd said...

On Tex: Well, I know it seems unfair to specifically call out Tex's singing, but I'm not really down on Tex. Just his singing.

On negative nonprofit experiences: So many volunteers have a great experience with Acterra and other simmilar organizations. But many volunteers also have very unsatisfying experiences, I know for certain.

There can be so many reasons for this, but in my experience, two were always prevalent:

1) The organization in question never had -- but always knew it needed -- a good Volunteer Coordinator. This crucial person makes the experience for volunteers 90% of the time.

2) Many organizations have poor processes in place for utilizing volunteer resources, especially in office-related work. Bay Area Action used to have several great step-by-step How-To sheets for things like manning the front desk, fielding inquiries, running the eco-store, answering the phone, etc. But their use fell by the wayside long ago, probably before I even got very involved. An organization that has neither a professional Volunteer Coordinator, nor a few easy-to-use How-To sheets, is simply going to waste most of its volunteers. And they won't come back.

Sadly, I have been on both sides of that quandry.

6/08/2005 02:57:00 PM

 
Blogger Brian said...

Hey, we've got nice native plants outside the PCC now - does that count for something?

6/12/2005 06:15:00 PM

 
Blogger espd said...

re: "Hey, we've got nice native plants outside the PCC now -- does that count for something?"

Well, yeah. It counts for a lot. So do a lot of other positive things.

This was the negative list. I'll do a list of things I do miss if people would really like to hear it. I intend to eventually anyway.

It's not like I hated everything about working in the nonprofit sector, or I wouldn't have taken a year to quit. It's not as if I stayed so long because it was such a glamorous place to work.

6/13/2005 11:30:00 AM

 

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