May 30, 2022

Nonprofit nightmares

Scary dreams reimagined for nonprofit professionals.

2 min read

You probably think that the nonprofit world of wakefulness is pretty scary. But what happens when, after a long day of making the world a better place, you finally leave the office/field to go home and get some sleep? What keeps nonprofit professionals up at night?

1. Falling…

The classic nightmare: You’re falling never-endingly. But what is this fall? Is it a plunge into endless meetings and projects? Or is it the realisation that world hunger, poverty, etc. will probably not be solved in your lifetime?

2. Ghosts or zombies

The social sector is full of angels and samaritans, but what happens when you get an unexpected visit from the other side? Is it the ghost of an auditor? Are you being chased by a zombie whose hunger can only be satisfied by your progress reports?

GIF courtesy: GIPHY

3. Failing the exam

You already disappointed your family when you chose to do a master’s in social work or that social innovation management programme. But you’ve taken it a step further by failing the exams! The worst part? You wake up from this nightmare and are almost a little relieved.

GIF courtesy: GIPHY

4. Missing that important event

It was the highlight of your nonprofit’s calendar, a night that took the whole year to plan. The one time when you could dress up fancy and eat and drink with all the high-net-worth individuals, all for a good cause. But a series of obstacles (grant reports, last-minute elevator pitches, calls from your primary donor for updates) ensure that you never make it to the annual fundraiser.

GIF courtesy: GIPHY

5. Board meetings

You dream about board meetings all the time. What’s worse—a board that is disengaged or one that is hell-bent on micromanaging every part of your work? Either way, you’ll lose sleep.

GIF courtesy: GIPHY

6.  Losing something important

Like your FCRA? The all-important donor report?

GIF courtesy: GIPHY

7. Tech malfunction

You managed to get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pitch to one of the world’s greatest philanthropists. You’re about to start your presentation that could help raise INR 1 crore for your cause. But this isn’t a dream; it is a nightmare! A notification pops up on the screen, telling you that your Microsoft Office version is pirated/unsupported. You watch in horror as the PPT file gets corrupted, and your hopes of funding fly out the window. You wake up in a cold sweat.

GIF courtesy: GIPHY

8. Mission Creep

You’ve just set up your social enterprise and are being applauded by everyone. Everyone you know (and some you don’t) starts suggesting other worthy causes that also require urgent attention. You lie in bed at night wondering if your rural EdTech start-up should also be looking into saving the endangered Great Indian Bustard as well as river rejuvenation projects.

GIF courtesy: GIPHY

9. Getting fired

This might be one of the worst moments of your life. Hide your tears, pack up your (few) things, and leave the office. Is this a blessing in disguise for you to take your first vacation in years? Sometimes nightmares can turn into sweet dreams as well. (Don’t worry, in no time you will be back at another job where you can relive all these nonprofit nightmares.)

GIF courtesy: GIPHY

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Zarir De Vitre

Zarir De Vitre is an independent sustainability consultant with experience across the corporate, consulting, and nonprofit sectors. He advises and supports clients on a range of services, including sustainability strategy, corporate social responsibility, research, communications, and reporting. Previously, he worked at the Tata Sustainability Group, EY, and the Mahindra Group. He has a master’s degree in environment and development from King’s College London and a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Knox College.