Category Archives: Uncategorized

Grant funding breaks everything

I’m working on this post. I’ll update it for a while. Here is what I want to write about: grant funding, which asserts that big infusions of cash can bring some operation to a new level, handcuffs nonprofits.

The issue is this: let’s say you get your $2M for the tech in the new gallery. On average that will cost $400K annually to support (20%). But you didn’t want to look the gift horse in the mouth, so you let it go. You didn’t say “hey donor, that is fantastic, thank you so much … now listen, that investment in infrastructure will result in ongoing annual costs of about $400K. Can you please also provide a capital campaign gift of $6.7M, to endow the continuing maintenance of this improvement you have funded?”

Do you see what I mean? 20% is a pretty typical maintenance figure for new tech purchases. If someone gives you $2M for some new gallery, or any kind of installation, most likely it will mean $400K in annual maintenance. Maybe less, maybe more. But YOU KNOW it will be something.

Well, we don’t tell donors that. We look at the big gift and we need it so we say “thank you,” and we figure that we’ll somehow work that 20% into our existing budgets. In truth there are often ways to do that, so a lot of the time 20% is going to be an overestimate. But not for things like computers, printers–operations in general.

The horrible thing is this: ask most big gift funders, and they don’t want to fund operations! That, you know, that should come out of your BUDGET. They want to fund the big game-changing thing.

I don’t know what to do about this except to put every gift into an endowment, unless it’s specifically about funding ways to generate new revenue.


We moved to Philadelphia in December 2017, so we’ve been here just under 16 months. Here are the main differences between Philly and NYC:

  • Restaurant food in the sub-$100 range (dinner for two) is lots better in Philly. And there’s a BYO culture here that means lots of restaurants are in that range.
  • It’s way smaller. You can live in the suburbs and still be like 20 minutes from the middle of town.
  • There are lots fewer international people in Philly.
  • There are no good corner stores–bodegas or Korean grocers–in Philly. It’s not a thing. I mean there are probably some somewhere, but it’s not like there’s probably one near you.
  • Obviously real estate is a lot cheaper in Philly.
  • Obviously NYC is way cooler.

Free, no license white noise mp3s for sleeping

My wife likes to sleep with white noise, especially when we’re somewhere very quiet. We used to try always to have a fan running–they make the best sleeping sounds. But that’s not always practical. So we switched to using Youtube, but it tends to flake out when you try to play something for hours (or your wifi will drop off, or whatever).

Now I just make noise snippets in Audacity and play them on repeat in any music player. The amazing thing is that there are people out there charging money for this. Here are some for free:

I’m releasing these to the public domain, so you can do anything you want with them.

The brown noise one seems best. I may get ambitious one day and try to take the tone of the pink noise down. I’ll post it here if I do and it works out.

By the way, doing this in Audacity is easy. There are Youtube videos on it, or just go to the “Generate” menu and pick “Noise.”