I’m too angry & frustrated. So here’s another thought…

June 15, 2020

I’m just too angry and frustrated. And this is about boards and bosses and ignorance and… [But there is a P.S. at the bottom about recent happenings in this racist US of A.]

Me (and you) are righteously angry towards board members and bosses who think they know more about fundraising than the fundraising staff. You and I are often appropriately angry towards board members who pay attention to body of knowledge and research expressed by lawyers and accountants and doctors and… But ignore and insult and trespass against resesarch and body of knowledge from fundraisers.

I’ve ranted about this forever and ever and over and over…

But here’s a new thought. A more gracious perspective. I don’t always have to be so angry!!! So here goes. What do you think?

We have to get across to all staff and all board members — everyone in every single nonprofit around the world — that a competent nonprofit organization does NOT need fundraising IDEAS.

Like any profession and professional, there’s academic and practitioner research and multiple bodies of knowledge about what/why/how to do fundraising. Fundraisers don’t seek new ideas. Like any competent professional, fundraisers read and study and learn. Fundraisers are lifelong learners following the international leaders in the field…reading the research. Etc. etc. blah blah blah.

I think that board members (and often bosses, too) are trying to help those poor fundraisers by coming up with new ideas. But why? What’s that about? These bosses and board members don’t suggest ideas to accountants, lawyers, medical doctors, road construction workers, house builders…

Hell…I wouldn’t even offer ideas to tech experts and guitar players or my hair dresser or …. I figure they all studied. Read the research. Followed highly knowledgeable practitioners and researchers. Practiced and learned more!

I think some board members, donors, bosses, whomever… are trying to help by suggesting ideas. Bless their hearts. Bless their hearts? I actually thought that was meant graciously. Until a Southern friend of mind explained to me: “Bless your heart” is actually not a compliment. It’s more like “what the hell you moron?!” (I can’t remember where I read this moron statement. But it sure is cool.)

Where does this not-so-good helping hand come from? Why don’t board members, bosses, whomever realize that fundraising (and governance and management and…) are actually professions with bodies of knowledge. WTF?

I think there’s a whole lot of disrespect for the nonprofit sector. Let’s be honest. If any of us could have gotten a job in a for-profit … you know, a “real job”…we wouldn’t be working in the nonprofit sector. (Surely you’ve experienced that snide reference sometime in your life.)

So the BIG BIG message that we have to get out there to our bosses and board members and and and … The nonprofit sector is different than the for-profit sector. And also similar in some ways. And professionals in the nonprofit sector know the distinctions and similarities.

  • There is a body of knowledge in fundraising and donor-centered communications. Financing is different. Measures are different. (Just read Jim Collins’ monograph Good to Great and the Social Sectors.)
  • Asking for gifts is not totally like selling. And your fundraising staff darn well better start learning about philanthropic psychology.
  • Without a culture of philanthropy, that nonprofit won’t thrive. It’s like Peter Drucker kept trying to teach us all [for-profits and nonprofits]: organizational culture will eat strategy for breakfast, lunch, and probably dinner too.

So back to the very big message that nonprofits and competent fundraisers and top-notch nonprofit leaders must must get out to their board members and others:

  • Fundraising is NOT NOT NOT about coming up with ideas.
  • Fundraising is about learning the body of knowledge…following the research…building the capacity and competency of the nonprofit and its employees and volunteer, including board members.

Thank you kind board members and bosses….The best fundraisers do not need ideas. The best fundraising programs aren’t looking for ideas. Follow the research. Now. Just do it. 

Hire well. And let the top-notch fundraisers do their work. Thank you!

P.S. I wrote this Simone Uncensored blog before George Floyd and yet another need to say that Black Lives Matter. I can’t even write about this “fucking country” although I’ve tweeted some. And unless you really know me and what I’ve done over the decades — not just writing but acting out — don’t you dare tarnish so many of us who you claim aren’t doing enough.

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.

Simone Joyaux, ACFRE, Adv Dip, FAFP, Certificate in Philanthropic Psychology is an internationally recognized expert in fund development, board and organizational development, strategic planning, and management.

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