January 28, 2016

The reminder: Remember that donor-centered means customer-centered means client-centered. Centered on the other, not you or your organization or your needs or whatever.

The story: Toronto Deborah sent me caramels. Special lovely caramels from “Good Karmal” (with a cute little Buddha on the wrapping), located in Bozeman, Montana. Deborah learned about these luscious caramels while in Minnesota last summer. Montana Emily gave me Bozeman caramels for my birthday there on campus at Saint Mary’s University. Apparently I offered some of the caramels to a few other students. That’s how Deborah learned about the Good Karmal caramels. Deborah was a first-year student, Cohort 25. Emily was a second-year student, Cohort 24. 

Did you follow that convoluted story? Because it get’s even more complicated.

Toronto Deborah was sending me a thank-you gift for something which didn’t require a thank-you gift. Not only didn’t require a thank-you gift, what I did was something I’m expected to do. But Deborah thought I’d done a special job. Furthermore, why would Toronto Deborah even remember that I liked caramels since we only spent about 10 days together and had only just met?

For that matter, why would Montana Emily bring caramels to Minnesota for my birthday? Emily and I had only met the year before. There was no reason for her to remember my birthday while we’re all working away on campus. But she did. I don’t remember talking about caramels that first year with Emily. But maybe we did. Or maybe Emily just knows that the Bozeman Good Karmal caramels are pretty extraordinary.

Memories from childhood and family: I don’t remember if I told Montana Emily my history with caramels. Whether I did or not, Emily’s caramel gift linked to wonderful childhood memories. On my family’s regular trips to France, we went to Normandie. We’d visit Bob Lebrec and his family at their dairy farm overlooking Omaha Beach. Bob came to MSU just like my dad did…from France after WWII. My dad stayed in the U.S. and Bob went home to France.

The dairy farm sold its milk to the Isigny cooperative. Isigny made butter, cream and milk, cheese and caramels. And we went to the caramel factory at Isigny and oh my oh wow. (I just learned something about Isigny on wikipedia: The Disney surname (Yes, that Disney) services from the little area called “Isigny.” D’Isigny … Of Isigny. And you don’t sound the “g.”)

Just think, Toronto Deborah, you connected with all that with your gift to me! And it all started with Montana Emily. Then I went down the rabbit chute to wikipedia and ended up in Disneyland.

Okay…. now back to extraordinary experiences.

My postscript: How often do we see this extraordinary behavior in our own personal lives? Within organizations where we’re donors? Within fundraising and fundraisers and…..

How often does any of us give someone else an extraordinary experience to enjoy?

All this thoughtfulness. All this extra care.

And genuine. Honest and truthful and kind and caring.

And unexpected. The whole convoluted story. Unexpected.

Merci beaucoup, Montana Emily and Toronto Deborah. Over and over. Unexpected and meaningful.



About Simone Joyaux

A consultant specializing in fund development, strategic planning, and board development, Simone P. Joyaux works with all types and sizes of nonprofits, speaks at conferences worldwide, and teaches in the graduate program for philanthropy at Saint Mary’s University, MN. Her books, Keep Your Donors and Strategic Fund Development, are standards in the field.

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