Not Even Kon Marie Can Save Us Now

In a recent blog post, Vu Le of Nonprofit AF, makes a plea for acceptance for those who are “organizationally challenged” (my term, not his).

He makes the rather excellent point that those who are #chaoticallycreative (his hashtag), have productive value as much as the Type-As with bullet journals and exquisitely organized desks.

Those values are:

  1. Delays= more nuanced
  2. Messy = more creative
  3. Procrastination can result in more complex analysis


I used to work for a Development Director who was #chaoticallycreative. Her desk was always a wreck, but she was one of the most creative and empathetic bosses I’ve ever had.

Personally, I’m an admitted “Messy” but with Anxiety and Depression (in “remission” at the moment).

My desk is messy, but I obsessively straighten the piles and stack the file folders in small towers.

Grant writing calls for a mix of the two- both the creative and the organized.

Many people will say that a grant writer MUST be organized.

Like, color-coded undies, organized.

I, um, totally know how to Kon Marie fold tee shirts, and pants, and, sometimes, underwear. #sorrynotsorry

A grant writer must:

 First understand and believe the work of the organization.

Secondly, have a decent head for writing and communicating.

And finally, know how to use their time wisely.


For example:

May was a really wild month for me.  My sister had a baby at the end of April, and I got to spend a week with her, supporting her postpartum. And I got lots of baby snuggles. 

I also submitted a record number of grant applications, NINE, on behalf of my clients. #holler

I only survived because I had a detailed and well-researched Grant Calendar, my planner (which I mostly scribble notes in), and  my custom daily planner page.  I created it for myself when I was DROWNING in deadlines and emails.

Also, I re-discovered Red Bull.


AWW! So tiny.

But the planner page, the planner page was, honestly, key.

See, the way to thrive at the intersection of disaster and overwhelm, is limiting what you take on.

You can try to organize a ton of tasks, but if there’s not enough hours in the day….you may have to leave them behind.

Now, I know, that many of us in the the nonprofit sector can not really afford to drop a bunch of the tasks or grants or donors, or whatever. It would be an unwise career move.

Although I’ve seen it happen; heck, I got fired from a position for not being able to work 80 hours in only 40! #bulletdodged

Now is the time to draw upon the #creative part of the chaos! 

  1. Focus on the highest priority stuff
  2. Outsource or delay nonessential items.


Sometimes this can look like delegating, sometimes it looks like using your calendar to keep track of grant deadlines. See, #creative!

Honestly, though, it’s ok if you can’t do it ALL. Sometimes, orgs really do need more staff.

Sometimes you an use a volunteer or an Americorp or RSVP person to take some of the pressure. But, fundraising should, in my opinion, be considered an essential role and function as a permanent role.

That said, I very much in favor of creative and unorthodox solutions. The nonprofit sector is among the most innovative sectors, and is full of badass, loyal, and creative folks.

Here’s to you!

Want to peep that planner page? and get a copy for yourself?