Phil Anthrop-ic Frolics (Aug 03)

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My daughter used to watch TV with my son and me, and when we'd laugh at a joke, she'd invariably yell, "What? I don't get it! Why is that funny?" It was awful. That's because we were then caught having to explain the joke — an impossible and thankless task. (This actually still happens sometimes when we're all together, despite the fact that my 28-year-old daughter is highly amusing in a bizarre sort of way.)

So it is with some trepidation that I point out to readers who have not yet caught on that NPQ author Phil Anthrop is using a pseudonym. The name should also suggest that the attached articles might not be entirely serious.

For instance, the true confession entitled "How I Cooked the Books and Why," originally printed in our spring issue, is not a real situation. But the creative absurdity of what many of us actually have to do to manage our budgets under difficult constraints can make this article feel squirmingly close to home.

Many have asked us who Phil is, but we are sworn to secrecy — suffice it to say that he is an undercover operative. He sits in the corner of the rooms in which nonprofits meet, and watches as we turn ourselves inside out to respond seriously to spurious observer commentary, unreasonable and unfunded demands, and wave after wave of brightly imposed yet slightly off-base management solutions. He wants us to get more balanced. He wants us to be able to poke fun at ourselves so we can spend less time in thankless and useless pursuits, and spend more time thinking through how we might make our work more powerful.

Anyway, Phil's articles are the only NPQ articles that we recommend for beach or porch reading, because they're fun.