Simone Uncensored

August 12, 2019

I’m thinking about new stuff… Part 1. (Part 2 is next week.)

Part 1 of a 2-part blog:

Of course, I love all the fundraising and governance stuff I’ve done for years. And I love changing and adjusting and adding new stuff and and… I’m just not one of those people that likes doing the same old stuff the same old way.

  • I’m also reading new stuff and stuff that so few other people in the nonprofit sector seem to be reading. Come on peeps – let’s get out of just reading fundraising and governance and donor stuff.
  • Have you read systems thinking and learning organization business theories yet? I wrote about that back in 1997. How about the stuff that’s happening to our brains because of too much technology?
  • Leadership…Oh sure, some conversations on the job. But who reads actual leadership research and stuff from the Harvard Business Review and and and ….
  • By the way, when was the last time that your professional association recommended readings beyond your specialized field?
  • How about organizational development? Culture and top-notch management and and and… SO MUCH MORE!!

There are 3 sectors: Government. For-profit. Nonprofit. I think the nonprofit sector is more important than most of our society thinks. And I suspect that most of you reading this honors our sector, too.

  • I want the government sector to do more. I’m appalled at what government doesn’t do.
  • I want the for-profit sector to be put in its proper place…. NOT the best the greatest the most important the individual and corporations are bestest. I want the for-profit sector and its people to be punished more often than they are. And if I hear one more person say “If only the nonprofit sector would operate more like the business sector….”)…well I just don’t know what I’m gonna do!!!!!!!!! WTF!!!!!!!!!!!

But if the nonprofit sector doesn’t get itself together better… Just survival isn’t good enough. The excuse of “We nonprofits and our staff are just sooooooo busy just doing what we have to do that we can’t possibly learn more…” WTF????!!!! Would you do your mission in a half-ass manner? Most of you tell me, “No way. We do our mission excellently … or we will choose to close.” Well if that’s the case, then do all the other stuff — fundraising, governance, management, leadership, organizational development, and on and on — damn well, too. Or close down!

The world needs and deserves the best and most loved nonprofit sector. Because people and the planet deserve the best. Social justice. Diversity. Inclusion. Equity. Health. Safety. Employment and economic security. Joy and love and education and peace.

The world needs and deserves the best and most loved nonprofit sector. Because people and the planet deserve the best. An environment that endures – with animals and plants and insects and all those living things. And learning and pleasure and the strength and support to build and care and live and…

Oh good heavens…How did I start down this path today? I read Seth Godin’s July 9, 2019 blog, The $50,000 an hour gate agent. I got frustrated because I hear too much whining from my beloved nonprofit sector people.

  • Yes, yes… I know what it’s like to work long hours and fight with a silly CEO and icky board members – too few of whom seem to “get it.” I know what it’s like to work for less than I’m worth – and without adequate support systems.
  • So leave the sector. Or first, look for a better nonprofit job with smart staff and board members who give you the respect and support I hope you deserve.
  • Because there’s no excuse for we all in this sector accepting inadequacy in others or in ourselves.

Okey dokey. Part 2 is next week. Thanks for listening.

August 5, 2019

More quotations…this time not so glum

 “Everything is a tale. What we believe, what we know. What we remember, even what we dream. Everything is a story, a narrative, a sequence of events with characters communicating an emotional content. We only accept as true what can be narrated.” (The Angel’s Game, Carlos Ruiz Zafón) One of my most favorite quotes forever…Great for donor communications…for life…

 

“Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.” (Chinese proverb)

 

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”  (Winston Churchill)

 

 

Filed under: Just for fun

July 29, 2019

Some quotations

I just can’t resist.  Because quotes can be so inspiring and insightful and stimulate us to think.

“Fundamentalism is the thief of mercy.” (Jeffrey Goldberg, Prisoners: A Muslim & A Jew Across the Middle East Divide, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2006, page 7

From Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis (Jimmy Carter, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2005) Just imagine these quotes — from 2005 — and we didn’t listen then or now.

  • “There is a remarkable trend toward fundamentalism in all religions…Increasingly, true believers are inclined to begin a process of deciding: ‘Since I am aligned with God, I am superior and my beliefs should prevail, and anyone who disagrees with me is inherently wrong,’ and the next step is ‘inherently inferior.’ The ultimate step is ‘subhuman,’ and then their lives are not significant.” (page 30)
  • “There are three words that characterize this brand of fundamentalism: rigidity, domination, and exclusion.” (Page 35)
  • “A characteristic of fundamentalism: ‘I am right and worthy, but you are wrong and condemned.” (page 79)
  • “It is the unprecedented combined impact of fundamentalism in religion and politics that has helped to create the deep and increasingly disturbing divisions among our people.” (page 101)

Filed under: Leadership

July 15, 2019

Finishing that committee job description

Last week, I shared the initial elements in the job description of a board committee, using the Board Development as the example. The first parts:

  • Purpose of the Committee:
  • Reports to:
  • Staff to the Committee:
  • Committee membership and operations:
  • Frequency of meetings:

And now…

Scope of work for the Board Development Committee

  1. Monitor effectiveness of governance operations and process, policies and guidelines, and recommend changes as necessary.
  2. Review and recommend optimum composition for the Board including diversity screens, skills, and behaviors.
  3. Design and execute an intentional process to recruit and retain the best Board members and officers to help achieve the organization’s mission. The committee does this work for the annual nomination and election process as well as any interim vacancies. Activities include:
    • Review the composition of the Board of Directors and identify the gaps.
    • Based on identified gaps, secure candidate suggestions, and screen them through a formal interview process.
    • Prepare the slate of nominees for board member and officer positions.
  4. Support ongoing learning for board members and the collective itself.
  5. Design and facilitate an orientation process for all newly-elected board members.
  6. Design and facilitate ongoing evaluation processes to recommend and facilitate improvements in individual and collective performance.
    • Annual board member self-evaluation, which is reviewed by the committee.
    • Feedback to board members whose performance requires improvement.
    • Annual governance self-assessment, tabulated and reviewed by the committee. Facilitate process for improvement.

 

July 8, 2019

Committee job descriptions

I expect all committee job descriptions to have the same format and same general content areas. So here’s what I do with committees of the board of directors — and I’m using the Board Development Committee (also called the Governance Committee) as an example………

Title: Role of the Board Development Committee

Purpose of the Committee: As a committee of the Board of Directors, the Board Development Committee helps the Board carry out its due diligence function related to healthy development and operation of the board, its committees and task forces, and performance of the individual board member.

Reports to: Board of Directors

Staff to the Committee: CEO

Committee membership and operations: All committee work is done in partnership with and through the facilitation of the CEO. No committee can usurp the authority of the Board (the collective), and no committee, committee chair, or committee member directrs or oversees staff. Committee members may include both Board and non-Board Members.

Frequency of meetings: As needed – estimated at 4-6 times per year.

Scope of work for the Board Development Committee: See my next blog!!!

July 1, 2019

Knowing…Not knowing…Not knowing the not knowing…

I know there’s stuff that I don’t know. Like I just don’t know enough about some internet stuff. And I don’t know enough about donor-centered communications. (But I live with a guy who knows lots about that so I can just ask him.)

I’m also very sure that there’s stuff that I don’t know … and I don’t know that I don’t know it … And maybe even I’d be better off if I did know.

To me, great organizations and great professionals and great people spend meaningful time figuring out what they don’t know — and learning that stuff if it would add value to their life, organizations, etc. etc.

What’s disturbing to me is that too many people don’t know what they don’t know. And don’t have a mechanism for fixing this. And and …

So what’s your organization’s process to fix this? And your personal and professional processes?

Let’s add the bullets below to strategic planning processes…our organization’s overall management…and…

  • What don’t we know?
  • How do we recognize that there’s stuff we don’t know — and we don’t know that we don’t know?
  • How do we confront that we don’t even know that we don’t know stuff?
  • How do we build into an NGO the concept of regularly exploring / discovering what we don’t know?

Filed under: Leadership

June 24, 2019

Do you know Siegfried Vögele?

If you read about donor communications, you’re probably familiar with Siegfried.

Check out this article by fundraiser Chris Keating: How a good envelope can make the difference to your direct mail’s success. All about designing the perfect envelope.

And stick around on the site where Chris posted his article……. SOFII.…. Showcase of fundraising innovation and inspiration.

SOFII is sooooo cool and informative and full of history and and and !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks to Ken Burnett and his pals…SOFII is the bestest compiler of stuff that works in our philanthropic field.

  • Examples of the bestest fundraising letters and cases for support — like even in the 1930s!
  • All about relationship fundraising
  • Direct mail
  • Brand development
  • Telephone fundraising
  • Digital fundraising
  • And on and on and on…

 

 

June 17, 2019

I figured something out!!! Kinda….

Sometimes I wonder what value I add to my beloved nonprofit sector. I haven’t raised as much money as so many of you have. I’m not an expert in direct mail or donor communications or…

I believe that what I add is “bringing things together”. Integrating stuff. Cross-pollinating. I do NOT just read fundraising stuff… I read Sherry Turkle’s book ALONE TOGETHER … which I keep telling you all to read!!! And Shankar Vedantam’s THE HIDDEN BRAIN … another book that I insist everyone read!!! And Harvard Business Review and systems thinking…learning organization business theory…Jim Collins…and on and on and on and on…

Stop it with all the “specialists” in fundraising, e.g., Director of Annual Fund. Director of Planned Giving. Major Gifts Officer. Etc. etc. etc. I want a bunch of damn good generalists in my development office. And I want my CEO to be a generalist and and and … I want generalists everywhere! 

Yes of course, specialists are good, too. And critical at times. And and…

BUT WOW!! Listen to this WGBH radio showKara Miller talking with David Epstein about generalists.

Teach people to think. Transfer knowedge between domains. BEWARE!!!! of too much specialization. Listen to the radio show – because you’ll hear frightening mistakes (that have even caused death) because of specialization.

I just ordered Epstein’s book. RANGE: WHY GENERALISTS TRIUMPH IN A SPECIALIZED WORLD

Filed under: Leadership, Resources

June 10, 2019

The annual fund…all over twitter

Here’s my thinking….

Nonprofits raise money for 2 things: (1) Running the organization.       (2) Some special project.

  1. Running the organization means every single cost required to carry out your mission. Staff. Management systems. Service/program development, design, evaluation, improvements, facility costs like utilities, mortgage, cleaning/maintenance, lawn mowing, whatever.
  2. Some special project means: Building an endowment. Facility capital costs, e.g., renovations, new building, whatever.

Sure, use the phrase “capital campaign” for that special project.

Sure, name your endowment campaign “Building for the Future” or whatever you want.

BUT STOP IT STOP IT with “The Annual Fund.” Geez…. 40 years ago I made letterhead that said: “Trinity Rep Annual Fund.” How dumb was I. Boring!! Maybe I could have called it “Trinity Rep Operating Support Fund So We Can Keep Doing Plays.”

NO NEED FOR A TITLE!!!! Internally we talk about raising money for the fiscal year budget to cover all the costs to run the theatre and hire actors and build sets and perform plays and and and …. That’s what we raised money for every single year. That fiscal year budget to continue our mission.

Presumably every organization raises this money. Every single organization uses every appropriate solicitation strategy and reaches out to all appropriate audiences.

  1. Sources of gifts are: Individuals. Foundations. Government. Corporations. Faith groups. Civic groups. You check with every single particular source to see what they give to…. running the organization or some special project. Anything else to add?
  2. Solicitation strategies are: Personal face-to-face solicitation. Direct mail (print or electronic). Telephone. Proposals/grantwriting. Fundraising events. Can you think of anything else to add?

Here’s what I recommend to all my fundraising clients and what I put in every single fundraising plan for that annual operating/mission/purpose/existence that a nonprofit has:

Segment all donors by solicitation strategy: 

  1. Who will staff and board members personally meet with and ask for a gift from. When I worked at Trinity Rep, I had 75 volunteers who personally solicited annual operating gifts every single year. Given how much I give to my Planned Parenthood affiliate, I expect a personal solicitation to support annual operations. (Yes, many fundraisers and organizations call this major gift solicitation. I find that so offensive I want to scream! Because major gift donors implies there are minor gifts and minor donors.)
  2. But neither Trinity Rep nor PPSNE talked about annual operations. We told stories about plays and students and favorite actors…And education programs about sex and saving men and women from HIV/AIDS and breast cancer and primary care and….
  3. Who will receive direct mail letters? And this donor segment may receive 3-4 letters/fiscal year … even after they’ve already given. Different stories resonate with different people. And some people respond to more than one direct mail letter. So cool!
  4. And pretty much everyone receives an invitation to the fundraising event.
  5. And on and on…

All my fundraising plans include using every solicitation strategy — and of course a comprehensive relationship-building program.

This is all just for annual operations, our mission.

And then the special campaign for the building or the van to hall kids or or??? We figure out which donors and how to solicit. And sure, there’s a name and maybe even special letterhead and whatever.

So all that’s my thinking. Great fundraisers tell stories about beneficiaries and donors, too. Great fundraisers segment the market for solicitation strategies. Great fundraisers avoid language that is unclear and kinda icky and has no emotional content and is unclear and confusing and… 

Okay. Back to work. Getting ready to head to Saskatoon for the Western Canada Fundraising Conference 2019. Thank you David and Christal. Thank you Common Good Fundraising.

 

 

 

 

June 3, 2019

Storytelling…just some thoughts

What cool cards from Ireland’s cool company, askdirect. 

“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Rudyard Kipling

“Because if we, the storytellers, don’t do this, then the bad people will win.” Christiane Amanpour

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” Joan Didion

“We’re all made of stories. When they finally put us underground, the stories are what will go on.” Charles de Lint

Think about all the great storytellers you know… Fiction writers. Historians.

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

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