May 6, 2019

Haiku-ing your way through nonprofit life

Do you have a lot of nonprofit angst? Why waste it when you can channel it into poetry.

2 min read

A haiku is a form of short poetry, originated in Japan. It typically contains of only 17 syllables over three phrases, and seeks to still convey a message. Some common themes on which haiku are written are nature, or human nature. But that does not mean it cannot be written about nonprofit life.

A little while ago, a #NonprofitHaiku contest ran on Twitter, and it saw the agony of social sector professionals beautifully channelised into poetry. Here are the winners from the contest:

This haiku, by Amanda Paveglio @AmandaPav1, captures the angsts of writing grant proposals, and the ingenuity of our sector:

Org’s mission doesn’t

Fit in fifty characters

Myb rmv vwls?

This one, by Jess Solomazing @jesssolomon, illustrates the level of intellectualization that happens among funders:

Harriet Tubman’s

“Project” would not be funded

No proof of concept


This gem, by Jennifer Iacovelli @anotherjenb, vividly crystalizes the dreaded terrible in-kind donation

Cole slaw donation

Left in a bucket outside

With soggy bread too

This one, by Chuck Brown @brookheart, may enrage some, but good poetry should spark emotions

Donor-advised fund

The gift that keeps on giving

Just not to your org

Related article: What would Shakespeare say?

And lest you think everyone in our sector is cynical, here’s a beautiful haiku from Charlford House @CharlfordHouse, with this moving note “This one is from my heart, it’s my personal story and about as honest as I can get in 17 syllables”

I was a hot mess

I recovered at Charlford

Not a hot mess now

You can read more haiku about nonprofits on NonprofitAF

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Vu Le Profile
Vu Le

Vu Le (“voo lay”) is a writer, speaker, vegan, Pisces, and Executive Director, Rainier Valley Corps, a nonprofit in Seattle that promotes social justice by developing leaders of colour, strengthening organisations led by communities of color, and fostering collaboration between diverse communities. Check out his other posts at Nonprofit AF.