The Unicorns: A Nonprofit Relationship Guide Book

Pre-Order on Amazon October 2017



1. one with vision, a persistent and dedicated human

2. a nonprofit or foundation employee that shines with brilliance and humility


Our goal is to change the way we all approach funding and fund raising. 

Jane Leu (CEO of Smarter Good), Vu Le (writer of Nonprofits with Balls), and Jessamyn Shams-Lau (ED of the Peery Foundation) will be writing a book together in 2017.

The backstory:

Smart funders know that the current status quo is inherently funder-centric and they are looking for ways to balance the playing field. By adopting grantee-centric practices, funders can maximize the input of time and strengthen an organization’s ability to achieve their outcomes.

Wise nonprofits know that current practices perpetuate a broken system. More importantly, they recognize their power to change the status quo and shape interactions with funders.

This book will delve into both sides of the relationship -- funder and fundraiser, foundation and nonprofit -- and will explore and suggest practical ways all of us can change from operating under 'business as usual' to 'nonprofit as extraordinary'. 

There is much work to be led and done by unicorns. Now more than ever, we need ways to work together that are fast, equal, and efficient. 

In December 2016, we ran a Kickstarter campaign that raised almost $12,000 (124% of our goal). We're so grateful to all of our backers for the input and support in making this book a reality, and we're eager to take your insights and incorporate them into this journey. But in the meantime, if you want a good laugh, you can watch our Kickstarter video here.


Kickstarter Video


The Authors

Jane Leu is an internationally-recognized social entrepreneur and Ashoka Fellow with more than 20 years of experience in founding and leading social enterprises. Her latest venture is Smarter Good, a global services firm with a dual mission to improve the efficiency and impact of small nonprofit organizations and create purposeful careers for aspiring changemakers in emerging markets. 

Jane’s contributions and leadership have been recognized by BYU Social Innovator of the Year, John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award, the Rockefeller Foundation's Next Generation Leadership program, the Jefferson Award for Community Service, the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and the Manhattan Institute Social Entrepreneur Award, among others. She is a Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation Venture Partner, representing the foundation’s investment on the Board of Directors of Reset Foundation, a member of the advisory boards of the Peery Family Foundation, Joshua Venture Group and the Migration Policy Institute. 

She holds a MA from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and a BA from Tufts University. She lives in San Francisco, CA with her husband, Ted Levinson, a social finance professional, when she is not in Manila with the team of Smarter Good.


Vu Le (“voo lay”) is a writer, speaker, vegan, Pisces, and the Executive Director of Rainier Valley Corps, a nonprofit in Seattle with the mission of developing and supporting leaders of color to strengthen the capacity of communities-of-color-led nonprofits and foster collaboration between diverse communities.

Vu’s 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, where he learned that we should take the work seriously, but not ourselves. He believes that there’s tons of humor in the nonprofit world and someone needs to document it. He is going to do that, with the hope that one day, a TV producer will see how cool and interesting our field is and make a show about nonprofit work, featuring attractive actors attending strategic planning meetings and filing 990 tax forms.

Known for his no-BS approach, irreverent sense of humor, and love of unicorns, Vu has been featured in dozens, if not hundreds, of his own blog posts at


High school drop out turned MBA, Jessamyn Shams-Lau currently co-creates and stewards the Peery Foundation's grantee-centric approach to philanthropy. Jessamyn is an advocate for inter-disciplinary approaches, thoughtful risk-taking, and bold ideas developed through apprenticing with a problem.

Jessamyn joined the Peery Foundation as its first staff member in 2009, helping to shape the foundation’s initial approach and portfolios. Currently, as Executive Director, Jessamyn is responsible for supporting the Peery Foundation team, developing and guiding overall strategy, and bringing the foundation Board's vision to life. Jessamyn utilizes her experience as part of the founding Ashoka U team in her hands-on role as a Board Member of BYU’s Ballard Center, where she has created curriculum now taught at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. 

Jessamyn has a BA in Fine Arts from the University of the Arts London and an MBA from Brigham Young University. She lives in Palo Alto with her ridiculously funny husband and three tiny hamsters.



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