Thursday, February 19, 2009

Nonprofit Baggage

Today I've been trying to decide whether or not I carry with me a certain amount of "nonprofit baggage." I suppose all of us who have an ongoing relationship with the sector, no matter how positive or how tortured, do.

I was struck by this last night and linger on with my shame today. Naturally, since I'm too cheap to buy a TV, I simply watch all my TV online on This way, I get to shock people into thinking I have "values" and that I spend time "reading" when really I am watching 30 Rock.

But onto the point: During a short commercial break, after I thanked God for the third week in a row that Salma Hayek was still a guest star, I suddenly realized that I was not watching a preview for an upcoming teen horror film or for a new line of fuel-efficient sports cars, but that was trying to sell me their "product" during the short ad slot. In fact, it was a clip of one of the greatest salesman of all-time, President Bill Clinton, telling me about the wonders of kiva, which allows individuals to "lend to a specific entrepreneur in the developing world."

Now, kiva certainly has great brand recognition. And from all accounts, they are doing amazing work turning an old model of philanthropy effectively on its head. So why could I not shake an overall feeling of ickiness and mild repulsion when I saw this ad? I know it wasn't just the shock of seeing ol' Bill look, well, old, but that somehow that ad and the venue it was running on made the mission of kiva seem ironically cheapened to me.

Am I just carrying nonprofit baggage? Is this my issue? Do I need nonprofit therapy?

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