July 20, 2020

Bizsplaining: Mansplaining for nonprofits

Here's what to do the next time someone condescendingly tells you to 'pivot' your programme.

2 min read

As nonprofit communications consultant Allison Carney succintly puts it, bizsplaining is mansplaining for nonprofits. More specifically, it’s when “people from the ‘business world’ talk to nonprofit staff like they have never successfully operated a blender, let alone worked (successfully) in their underpaid, understaffed, and completely vital position for years.”

We usually just nod along, rolling our eyes internally when this happens. But it’s time we react to them in a language they would understand. Here’s how the judges from Shark Tank would do it.

1. When they say you should “pivot” to working on education instead of sanitation to open up “alternative funding avenues” because anyway, “don’t all nonprofits function similarly?”


2. When they tell you how much easier your life would be if you outsourced your marketing instead of doing it in-house, and ask what’s holding you back


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Related article: Sh*t nonprofits say: At home

3. When the sixty-something male CEO who refuses to retire, finally stops lecturing you about how women leaders sometimes just get too attached to their nonprofits


4. When they make a ridiculously obvious statement, like how cutting overhead costs might help your cash flow, but they’re really proud of themselves for that recommendation


5. When they ask if they can volunteer time instead of money, but you politely say that what you really need from this fundraiser is…funds; so they vaguely commit to making a donation


6. When they ask you whether you would like to meet their niece, a life-coach who left the corporate world because she “hates capitalism” but charges one lakh per consultation


7. When they tell you that your brochures don’t look sad enough…


Related article: The anatomy of a corporate crossover

8. When they ask you for inputs on their plan to open a school in rural Bihar, where they will bring in their own teachers and staff, because they “can’t trust the local nonprofits”


9. When the 23-year-old consultant you’re paying more than your own salary tells you that all your organisation needs is a strategy that “really embraces non-linear thinking”


10. What your expression has permanently become every time someone tells you they know someone at a corporate that you “absolutely must meet”


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Ayesha Marfatia-Image
Ayesha Marfatia

Ayesha Marfatia is a communications associate at the Good Food Institute India, a nonprofit working to build the alternative protein ecosystem in India. She has previously worked as a consultant for Eco Femme, and as an editorial associate at India Development Review, where in addition to writing and editing, she also worked on the podcast 'On the Contrary' hosted by Arun Maira. Ayesha's work has been featured in The Wire, Scroll, and Quartz India. She holds a BA from St Xavier’s College, Mumbai.