(Photo by Chris Henry on Unsplash)
Last year — Generocity‘s tenth year and my first year as its editor, as well as the last year of a decade — we offered an end-of-year list of the 10 most-read stories of 2019. 10 stories. 10.
An inadequate template for 2020.
Did anyone have a global pandemic on their bingo cards for 2020? No? How about a national racial justice uprising?
And, while we all knew back in January that we would we facing a contentious presidential election in November, could any of us have imagined the political shenanigans that have taken place every day since the votes were first tallied?
This year’s listicle demanded more than 10 stories. And, while “20 from 2020” would have made an editor-pleasing headline, I found myself chafing at even that doubled number as inadequate.
So 25 stories it is — though in compiling the list I realize that even this is too abbreviated to convey the scope of conversations the nonprofit and social impact sector had (or had to have) this year.
Some of Generocity’s strongest work (this solutions-focused series about the Promotora model of community outreach, for example) had less readership than anticipated.
On the other hand, stories from our reporting collaboration with the Indonesian Lantern and our Poverty Action series in collaboration with United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, have already made it onto the list, despite really recent publish dates.
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Only one of our perennially popular Power Moves column made it into the listing, though another came close. As did one of Ami Patel Hopkins’ regular education-focused columns. Two opinion pieces dealing with politics nearly made the cut — one of them written by an immigrant watching what he feared was a possible coup in his adopted country, and the other written by a nurse urging her fellow nurses to speak up and support Biden.
As was the case last year, some perennially popular stories from previous years made it onto the final list. We also published a number of COVID resource lists this year, but it was the only non-COVID one we published that came close to the readership of the stories included here: Resource list: Bail funds for protesters.
And maybe it’s in that action-oriented and community-centered focus that we can find heart in an otherwise too heartless year.
25. The activist owners of South Philly Barbacoa will be featured on Netflix’s ‘Chef’s Table’
This 2018 story by Julie Zeglen is a perennial favorite for a reason. Yes, there is Zeglen’s skill as a writer, but it’s also the fact that Cristina Martinez‘s personal and professional narrative of resilience, activism and culinary talent is so compelling. Also, who doesn’t love the fact that this Philly treasure was finally, in 2018, poised to gain widespread national attention?
24. As protests and unrest grip the nation, how should Philly nonprofits respond?
One of the first of many stories we published this year that focused on the long-delayed reckoning on systemic racism we continue to struggle to fully confront as a nation, and a city.
Fourteen local nonprofit leaders responded — among them the late, great Linda Waters Richardson — even while still actively processing the horrific police killing of George Floyd
23. Indonesian restaurants in Philly have kept operating through ingenuity and tenacity. But how much longer?
In this story published just last week, Indonesian Lantern’s Indah Nuritasari and Generocity contributor Sabrina Emms talk to three restaurateurs about COVID’s ongoing impact on a sector that’s a key part of the community.
22. Talking racial equity? Make sure you understand these 17 words
This story was #3 last year, the year it was written and published. No surprise that it was shared this year, though, as nonprofits grappled with how to move their “Black Lives Matters” statements from words to action.
21. Nonprofit AF: Have nonprofit and philanthropy become the ‘white moderate’ that Dr. King warned us about?
Vu Le‘s columns have always been popular. But this year — as Le has become more blunt about the ways the sector has insulated itself from change and more explicit about what steps need to be taken to make the sector live up to its promises — the pieces written by the founder of Nonprofit AF have really resonated with Generocity’s readership.
20. Philadelphia’s poverty problem is bigger than you ever imagined
Guest columnists Farrah Parkes (Gender Justice Fund) and Marianne Bellesorte (Pathways PA) hit a home run with this column that argues for changing the measures by which we define poverty.
19. Employee alleges DHS CAO office has ignored worker safety even after an employee tested positive for COVID-19
Contributor Erin Flynn Jay wrote this follow-up to her even more popular exclusive report (all the way at #3 on this list) on accusations Department of Human Services employees — and the employees’ union officials — levied regarding the policies and practices of the department that put employees in danger of contagion.
18. This is the view from within the encampment on the Parkway
Contributor Brandon Dorfman took us inside the 200+ tent camp at Von Colln field on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, to meet organizers and the people experiencing homelessness who called it home for most of the summer.
17. Uprising in Philadelphia: A to-do list for the next six months
The first story in our yearlong TRACE series — which tracks how and where the region’s government, philanthropic, civic and private sector is working toward a more just recovery — includes the voices of 18 of Philadelphia’s best and brightest, who tell us what they think needs to happen next to address the longstanding structural inequities in the city.
16. A lucky nonprofit could be the recipient of an unusual donation — this trolley car ice cream shop
Contributor Shalon Baylis took us to Mt. Airy to dream about being the lucky recipient of the cutest Philadelphia trolley car EVAR.
15. A look inside the stubborn problem of access to benefits and relief in Kensington
Another story that was published just last week. In it, contributor Brandon Dorfman some the root causes of poverty in Kensington, and at the limitations of — and challenges to — poverty alleviation efforts that have been deployed in the neighborhood in the past.
14. Power Moves: Cynthia Figueroa appointed to lead City’s new Office of Children and Families
People loved reading about Cynthia Figueroa‘s appointment to the new office which merged the Department of Human Services (child welfare and juvenile justice); PHLpreK; Community Schools, and Prevention Support Services (Out-of-School Time, Youth Workforce Development, Truancy, Summer/Winter Meals, and Attendance Initiatives).
13. These are Philadelphia’s 50 biggest nonprofits by income
Even though there are more recent iterations of this story, the OG from 2018 is more popular. Go figure.
12. Will COVID-19 end ‘white professional’ nonprofit culture?
Guest columnist Sam Chenkin‘s column really struck a chord. “Organizations that can support staff with marginalized experience are also organizations equipped to understand and support their communities,” she wrote in April, and as the pandemic has worn on we’ve seen how accurate a gauge that sentence is.
11. Here are 15 Black nonprofit and community voices to listen to in Philadelphia
This article is from June, but it is well worth your while to add these folks to your Twitter follow list today.
10. Nonprofit AF: The default nonprofit board model is archaic and toxic. Let’s try some new models
Another Vu Le column. Who knew that radically forthright could also be entertaining?
9. This is how much money Philly’s 50 biggest nonprofits’ CEOs make in a year
It’s probably no surprise that in this year of economic uncertainty, we’re all very concerned about money and assiduously reading salary and money posts. This one is from 2018 but still racking up the reads (and I’m not complaining about that).
8. Dear white people and non-Black people of color: Get comfortable being uncomfortable
Elicia Gonzales‘s guest column from 2019 was #6 on last year’s list. It’s high ranking this year is proof that smart, incisive looks at important topics stay fresh, relevant and significant even a year after the fact.
7. Here’s an up-to-date guide to Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and other benefits in PA
Contributor Michael Butler in September updated a story about unemployment assistance for self-employed and gig workers written by another Generocity contributor in May (see #4 on this list). Both stories continue to be very popular with our readers given the complexity of unemployment assistance during COVID.
6. Mental health guide: Where to get therapy on a sliding scale in Philadelphia
This is one of our all-time best performing stories. We are in the process of completely updating it (it was originally written by Zari Tarazona and published in 2018, and has been updated only sporadically), with an additional commitment to including culturally competent therapists and more therapists of color in the listing. Expect that from contributor Bobbi Booker in 2021!
5. Take your sh*t to Goodwill: Why homeless shelters don’t want your stuff
Another of our all-time best performing stories, this time written by guest columnist Hannah Litvin back in 2016! The updated version of this story, with a much less memorable title (written by Zari Tarazona in 2019) just missed the list at number #26.
4. 12 answers to questions self-employed and gig workers have about PA’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
Contributor Alyssa Biederman asked all the right questions on this essential explainer.
3. Union and workers reclassified as ‘essential’ claim that the PA Department of Human Services is endangering their safety
Inside information about what was playing out behind the scenes at County Assistant Offices made this important story by Erin Flynn Jay one of our most widely shared and among the best performing stories of the year. Jay’s follow up made it to #19 on this list.
2. To white organizational leaders, silence is violence: Here’s what you should do now
The top two stories of the year were written by Christopher Wink, a longtime journalist and the CEO of Generocity’s parent company, Technically Media. Both of them were born from the protests during the uprising, and from the need to examine how we were reacting to events as they unfolded. In this piece, Wink speaks to the need for leaders of institutions and organizations to engage by listening to their staff of color, by building a culture of dialogue in their organizations, and creating safe and private spaces within organizations for staff members reeling from events of the moment.
1. What a police-sanctioned mob in Fishtown says about systemic racism
“Nearly 150 people, almost all of them men and very nearly all of them white, milled about Berks Street and Girard Avenue in the Fishtown neighborhood Monday night. Many had baseball bats and other household tools of force.” That’s how the story starts. But it’s not just a recounting of events or facts. Like so much of this year, the story that underpins this story hasn’t come to close yet.-30-
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