Vu Le (“Voo Lay”) is the former Executive Director of RVC, a Seattle-based nonprofit dedicated to promoting social justice through fostering collaboration between diverse communities and cultivating leaders of color. He is a writer, speaker and prolific blogger at NonprofitAF, where he brings a personal and irreverent brand of humor to a broad range of important issues to the nonprofit community. As Vu says, “there’s tons of humor in the nonprofit world; somebody’s got to document it!”

Vu, the theme of the conference is "Big World, Big Ideas." What is one “big idea” that you’d like to share with ADRP Conference attendees?

One big idea is that we nonprofits need to stop being a clearinghouse of extracurricular activities for the wealthy. We need to embrace our role as agents of justice, and that means deprioritizing donors' interests and whims and focusing on what will advance equity and justice, even if donors don't like it.

How did you become so committed to the nonprofit sector?

I love our sector because my family and I personally benefited from all the nonprofits that helped us when we first arrived in the U.S. We didn't speak English, had no money, and had lost our community. So many organizations helped us. I wanted to pay it forward.

If there was one current donor recognition practice you would alter or eliminate, what would that be?

Recognizing donations by level, in descending order of donation sizes. We need to stop reinforcing this idea that people who give more money are more generous and thus deserve more recognition and special treatments. 

How can stewardship and donor relations professionals insert humor into our work, and what’s the value of doing so?

Our communications can be a lot funnier, for one. I don't know why so many appeal letters, program reports, marketing videos, etc. are always so serious. We can discuss serious issues, but it would also be great—for us and for our constituents—to acknowledge the joy and humor that are such a big part of our work.