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Happy to Be Here: Promoting the art of giving


When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies?

To surrender dreams, this may be madness...

Too much sanity may be madness!

But maddest of all is to see life as it is and not as it should be.

– Don Quixote

Vu Le includes those words at the end of his email messages. He’s a force, often irreverent, in the world of philanthropy.

Seattle-based Le will be in Bucks County this spring to speak to the lifeblood of not-for-profit organizations, the people who seek funding. They feel sometimes like the “Man of La Mancha” in the musical, dreaming impossible dreams.

Le promises to enliven a pretty dry topic, the collective impact of nonprofits, when he speaks at Bucks County Community College as a guest of Foundations Community Partnership (FCP), a fund-granting group that gave more than $7 million to 62 local organizations in 2021 – like the Opportunity Council, the YMCA and Family Service Association.

FCP was founded in 2007, when a for-profit corporation acquired Foundations Behavioral Health and income from the sale enabled the establishment of Foundations Community Partnership as an independent grantmaking organization. Profits from the sale became the base for an endowment that has supported local organizations.

Last spring, Tobi Bruhn, executive director, with staff and board, launched #FCPresents, a new series aimed at strengthening the nonprofit sector by inviting thought leaders to share their expertise.

The guest in 2023 was Joan Garry, who’s recognized as a rock star in the nonprofit world. As the smoke was clearing from the coronavirus pandemic, about a hundred nonprofit leaders came out to listen to her advice. And she was entertaining, connecting with an audience that was eager to promote an assortment of passions, social, athletic, educational and cultural.

“I believe deeply in the power of the nonprofit sector to change the world in ways large and small,” she said in her inspiring “Guide to Nonprofit Leadership.” “If you have raised your hand to say ‘I want to help; I want to work here; I want to volunteer; I want to raise money for you,’ you are in my book nobility.”

And, she said, “Nonprofits are a foundational component of our economy. They’re vital to the development of a truly civil society.”

This year, from 8:45 to 11:15 a.m. March 20, again at Bucks County Community College, FCP will present Le, who boasts that his “passion to make the world better,” combined with a low score on the Law School Admission Test, drove him into the field of nonprofit work. “I bombed so badly,” he said, “that I shot right back to social work.”

Le had begun college as a pre-med student but he found that working with people’s social and material needs was the right fit. He majored in social work at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.

Born in Vietnam, Le came with his parents to America when he was 8 years old. They landed in Philadelphia and stayed for a few months before moving west. Le’s parents have moved back to Vietnam but three siblings remain here. Le has two children, 10 and 7 years old.

He started speaking to organizations about a dozen years ago and the business bloomed, until today Nonprofit AF is his full-time program. He posts advice and responses at He’s tuned in to imaginative fundraising efforts.

The post on Tuesday was “10 boring, predictable responses often made by enablers of crappy funding practices.”

He begins, “Before we start this week’s topic, check out Memphis Music Initiative’s latest hilarious and catchy music video, ‘I Hope Like Hell We Get This Grant.’” Among the songs are “Just Give it to Me. Cut the Check” and “The Math Ain’t Mathing.”

The Memphis Music Initiative, according to its website, invests in youth “through transformative music engagement, creating equitable opportunities for Black and brown youth in Memphis.” It promotes young musicians, classical and rap included, as a community asset.

In the same Tuesday blog, Le launches into a critique of the grant applications process (guaranteed to raise a few eyebrows).

He said in a phone interview that fundraisers solve many issues. They have their organization’s mission plus a need to keep the lights on and pay employees for their services. They’re firefighters, he said. “They put fires out, but they have to spend money on water.” Even the all-volunteer nonprofits have that demand.

People raising money are stretched thin for lack of funding, Le said. He expects to drive home a few points that will help “people doing amazing things.”

“The nonprofit sector is magical,” he said. “We make the world better. We are magical.”

To register for Vu Le’s presentation for the professional development series #FCPresents contact Tickets are $25.

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