January 19, 2021

Just silly & stupid. So don’t read if you’re not in the mood!

I’m the eldest of 6 kids. My mom’s last pregnancy was twins – girl and boy. Geez!!!

About 15 years ago or so, the female twin started sending me hysterical birthday cards. Absolutely hysterical. Herare are some of my favorites:

Cover: Sketch of a snarky cat wearing a birthday hat. The cat is saying: “Don’t worry just because it’s your BIRTHDAY and I’m YOUNGER than you! Who cares? I guess what I’m trying to say is…”

Inside: “Nyah nyah nyah nyah  nyah.”

Cover: Snapshot, 2 women chatting over coffee. Once says “Where’s your birthday party at?” The other responds “Don’t end a sentence with a preposition.”

Inside: The 1st woman responds: “Where’s your birthday part at, bitch.” And the caption says :”Hope your birthday is a one big party.”

Cover: Sketch of a woman with big glasses, big earrings, high-heeled shoes. And she says, “I have just one word of advice as these birthdays keep pilin’ up on ya’, honey…”

Inside: “MOISTURIZE!!?

Cover: Sketch of a very grumpy cat with a birthday party hat on. “Happy Birthday. Or Whatever. Now make yourself useful and feed me.”

Inside: Just a handwritten note from my sister.

Cover: “Oooh, it’s your birthday.” (With a stack of pancakes + birthday calendar below.)

Inside: “Big deal. I’ve had plenty of birthdays.”

And a silly one from a silly friend:

Cover: Drawing of the Eiffel tower with a ribbon wrapped around it … and a little sign that says “Happy Birthday.” The the text: For your birthday, we bought you the Eiffel tower! Then, in your name, we donated it back to the French! They love you France now!

Inside: Vive You!


Okey dokey. No more playing! Get back to work!!!

Filed under: Just for fun

January 13, 2021

An idea I have

I’m reflecting on my 32 years as a full-time consultant. (On January 1, 2021, I started by 33rd year as a full-time consultant.)

Wow! How marvelous have these working years been!!!!

So I have this idea: I’ll compile lots of my writings over the years… And then post bunches of pages in a “compilation” book… Online.

The compilation will be posted on my website and announced in my newsyletter and on this, my blog.

Different articles and resources from different years…on different subjects…

I’ll probably even recruit someone to do a really cool cover.

But the document itself will be a downloadable PDF. And I’m thinking for free…As a gift to everyone I’ve learned from, worked with, whatever…

What do you think?


January 4, 2021

Sometimes only music helps

Sometimes I list a few fun items in my monthly newsyletter. You can subscribe to my monthly newsyletter, delivered monthly through MailChimp. That newsyletter is not archived on my website.

What you’re reading right now is my kinda weekly blog. This is Simone Uncensored. BEWARE!! Tons of Social Commentary in this Uncensored blog. Politics and lousy fundraising and poor nonprofit management and music and funny videos and silly stuff. This is a separate subscription.

And bouts of professionalism like Resources/Research and and and…

So today is music. Because sometimes only music helps. Sometimes the music makes me cry. And then I realize that I’m crying for the world and myself. Sometimes the music makes me should and dance and yell very loudly. (That’s when my business associate, life partner usually calls me from upstairs and (mostly) ungraciously asks me to stop all the noise. Even I don’t blame him for that ungraciousness.

How about ending 2020 with some sillinessFauci on a Couchi



1. I’ve shared Pentatonix with you in a previous newsyletter. And here’s more!!!

Amazing Grace

Bohemian Rhapsody

Imagine           And pay particular attention to the signs….

God Only Knows

And so many many many more from Pentatonix.

2. Re-discovering Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler

Telegraph Road

Sultans of Swing

And check out the 9 movie soundtracks that Mark has composed. Start with The Princess Bride!! And check out Willy DeVille’s other version, years later.

3. Discovering Billy Bragg — Thanks to Rob Ayles at Tufts University: Waiting for the Great Leap Forward

4. And the movies Notting Hill…Love Actually…Four Weddings and a Funeral… And on and on and on….


Just some stuff as we begin the new year…2021…


Filed under: Stuff

December 28, 2020

Ending this year and starting anew

Now is your chance and my chance. Learn!!! Learn more!!!!! All us fundraisers can do better! Embrace lifelong learning.

Let’s start this new year by learning and applying all the great research and resources that our beloved sector has and keeps developing!!!!



Resource Alliance: Located in the UK but offering workshops all over the world! You must must check out their offerings!!!

AFP-Boston Fundraising Conference: January 25-29, 2021. Jay Love, Adrian Sargeant, and myself are presenting the closing plenary.

AFP-RI Chapter: How about these speakers for 2021??!!  Ligia Peña. Planned giving… Roger Craver. Yes! Roger Craver!!!  Tom Ahern…  Tycely Williams…  Simone Joyaux… Check out the complete list of speakers early in January 2021. And, how about joining the AFP-RI Chapter’s Book Club?!! And check out the job postings, too.

Visit Harvey McKinnon Associates. These Canadian colleagues are LEADERS in monthly giving!!! And the USA is way behind in monthly giving. Read the books…For example, How to Create Lifelong Donors Through Monthly Giving.

Are you a Peter Drucker fan? He’s the management guru who “invented” organizational culture. So check out this book by Laurence Pagnoni, fundraiser: Fundraising 401 — Masterclasses in nonprofit fundraising that would make Peter Drucker proud. How can this not tempt you!!!

Boards and Asking Styles: A Roadmap to Success, by Brian Saber. Really helpful.


Okey dokey… Let’s get away from fundraising and move into organizational development…self-growth:

I’ve subscribed to the Harvard Business Review for decades. Now there’s this cool book, HBR’s 10 Must Reads: On Managing Yourself.

How about this one by Maria Konnikova: The Biggest Bluff – How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win.

Or this one…. NEW POWER: How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World – and How to Make It Work for You. Authored by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms.

I’m counting on you to look up the book links. If you want to learn…If you care enough to learn…Go for it. Check these out. Thus far, I’ve read some but not yet all.

So do please join me on the journey!!!!!




Filed under: Resources / Research

December 7, 2020

Seth Godin is soooooooo wonderful

Always remember: Donors give through your organization to fulfill their own aspirations.

And Seth Godin describes that truth so well in one of his bestest ever blogs. Posted on April 14, 2013. And since that date, Seth’s brand blog – printed out of course – has been taped to the fill cabinets just behind my desk.

Surely I’ve told you about this most beautiful blog that Seth has written. And if I have previously, let me share it again. Definitely it’s time for all fundraisers – and their bosses and work colleagues and every single board member – to understand and embrace this.

= = = = = = = = = =

“The brand is a story. But it’s a story about you, not about the brand.”

Why prefer Coke over Pepsi or GE over Samsung or Ford over Chevy?

In markets that aren’t natural monopolies or where there are clear, agreed-upon metrics, how do we decide?

Yes, every brand has a story – that’s how it goes from being a logo and a name to a a brand. The story includes expectations and history and promises and social cues and emotions. The story makes us say “we love Google” or “love Harley”…but what do we really love?

We love ourselves.

We love the memory we have of how that brand made us feel once. We love that it reminds us of our mom, or growing up, or our first kiss. We support a charity or a soccer team or a perfume because it gives us a chance to love something about ourselves.

We can’t easily explain this, even to ourselves. We can’t easily acknolwedge the narcissism and the nostalgia that drives so many of the apprently rational decisions we make every day. But that doesn’t mean that they’re not at work.

More than ever, we express ourselves with what we buy and how we use what we buy. Extension of our personality, totems of our selves, reminders of who we are or would like to be.

Great markets don’t make stuff. They make meaning.

= = = = = = = = = =

So which organizations do you give through to fulfill your own aspirations?

What is the story you want to tell about yourself…share with others about yourself…confirm and reaffirm who you are?

Shall I tell you someday about my aspirations as a human being? And how my giving reflects those aspirations? And the story from Papa Georges, my dad? And Tom and I took dad’s statement and made it into our family slogan? (And by the way, the word “slogan” derives from slough-gairm, the Scottish Gaelic word for battle cry.



November 16, 2020

Fun and sweet and kinda strange things about fundraising

*** Have you see this video of Simon & Garfunkel’s SOUND OF SILENCE…

It’s the cuteness factor!! The animals… and even adults hugging animals. Enjoy! And then think about the biological cuteness factor in humans … And how you apply that to fundraising!!!

All fundraisers should be familiar with biology’s cuteness factor.


*** How about Jeff Brooks’ blog about oxytocin, the hormone that increases altruism, generosity, empathy and trust. AND!!! Decreases fear, anxiety, and stress.

Guess what? There’s another chemical that does the good things: alcohol.

Jeff isn’t suggesting anything icky or bad.

But science is telling us something…And Jeff reminds us: “Charitable giving is a deep. elemental act for human beings. It’s related to parental love, romantic love, and our ability to relate to others on many levels.”


*** Ah yes, philanthropy…. Love of humankind.

November 9, 2020

P.S. to Sunday’s blog “Gone So Long”

Special thanks to Wendy Weinstein who responded to my blog’s return with these 2 marvelous quotes to join those that I had posted. Wendy is the Director of Development at the Clay Art Center, Port Chester NY.

Thank you thank you, Wendy…For these glorious additions.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” (From our beloved Martin Luther King, Jr.)

And from the brilliant author Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

All this is leadership and social justice. Fundraising and donor centrism and governance and management. And life, too.

November 8, 2020

Gone so long. But returning now.

Hello, again.

Wow. I haven’t written a Simone Uncensored Blog since August 3, 2020. 3 months ago.

But I’m back now.

First: Remember that I do publish my newsyletter monthly. Subscribe on my website. T’is a traditional newsletter – but I call it a newsyletter. Mini articles. Suggested resources. And some stuff just for fun.

Second: You can subscribe to this (mostly) weekly blog, Simone Uncensored on my website, too. Yes, separate subscriptions. Always remember that Simone Uncensored is ME…UNCENSORED. Longer articles. Really candid. Often provocative and maybe even ranting and raving about something.

I’m gonna start easy after my 3-month hiatus. I just want to share some quotations. Quotations that make me hopeful, give me strength, and some level of peace.

I think I’ve told you before that I’ve collected quotations since my high school years. Little notebooks. So many handwritten.

So here goes…In honor of of the US 2020 election and… And to remind us of how much more work there is to do.

• “Hope has two daughters, anger and courage. They are both lovely.” (Saint Augustine)

• “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

• “This is the oldest story in America: the struggle to determine whether ‘we the people’ is a spirtual idea embedded in a political reality – one nation, indivisible – or merely a charade masquerading as piety and manipulated by the powerful and privileged to sustain their own way of life at the expense of others.” (Stated by Bill Moyers in June 2003. At the “Take Back America” Conference.)

And for those of us working and volunteering in the philanthropic sector: From the Greek word “philanthropia” (love of humankind). And my favorite definition of philanthropy…voluntary action for the common good. (That’s from Robert Payton, one of the early greats of philanthropy.)

• “Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropists to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice that make philanthropy necessary.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

• “Charity is good, but supporting and creating social change are about power. Power can infuse lives with purpose and dignity. That opens up the possibility of joy. The life of the giver, as well as that of the receiver, is transformed…No matter who we are, no matter how much money we have, whatever our color, gender, age, religion, or language, we can bring change to the world around us. We can open our minds, rool up our sleeves, and reach out our hands.” (Alfre Woodard – in her preface to the book Robin Hood Was Right, 2000)

SOME WONDERFUL BOOKS TO READ…As we struggle to move forward…

Robin Hood Was Right: A Guide to Giving Your Money for Social Change (Collins, Rogers, Garner)

You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train (Howard Zinn)

The Self-Made Myth (Miller and Lapham)

Make Trouble (Cecile Richards)

Between the World and Me (Ta-Nehisi Coates)

Filed under: Leadership, Stuff

August 3, 2020

Thinking about reading and writing and my frustration/anger/sadness

I’ve always been an avid reader.

When I was young (maybe 9 or 10 or so years old)…My mom kinda yelled at me: “Simone! Put the goddamn book down and go outside and play.” I think maybe I asked her if I could take the book with me. Just imagine her response.

Until my mid teens…every summer I would ride my bike to the library and take out 7 books. Get a glass of lemonade and go to the basement where there was a couch and it was cooler than outside or upstairs – and no one came downstairs to bother me. I’d read a book a day.

What was I reading for fun then? Probably lots of the same stuff I read now for fun : Romance novels but only selected romance novelists. Sci fi fantasy – but that’s new – since I was student teaching and an 8th grade student explained why sci fi was so cool. Spy, thrillers.  That’s my fun time.

What else do I read now? When I’m learning and enhancing my craft and stimulating my brain? Business books. Some of my favorite authors: Business books NOT specific to the nonprofit sector/philanthropy: Seth Godin. Jim Collins. Peter Senge. Malcolm Gladwell. Chip & Dan Heath. Peter Senge. Daniel Goleman. And and and and ….

For the nonprofit sector, I think I might require all staff to read  John Gardner’s monograph Building Community. I’d require all senior staff to add these two monographs: Ken Dayton’s Governance is Governance Is Governance and Jim Collins’ Good to Great and the Social Sectors.

So this blog is recommending just a few of the books that I’ve found most useful/helpful/special/important to me. I think all of these are particularly important to any senior professional in any field – including  the nonprofit sector – especially the CEO and CDO. If I were a CEO or CDO today, I’d insist upon a Book Club for senior staff.

By the way, none of the books recommended below focus on the nonprofit sector, governance or fundraising. But I’ve found all of these useful, helpful, still relevant, hugely meaningful…whatever…to my decades of work in the nonprofit sector.

And here’s more reading for the top-notch professionals. The non-siloed thinkers. The lifelong learners. Those who integrate various schools of thought and fight silos and use conversation as a core business practice and read across disciplines and….

The Hidden Brain: How our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars, and Save Our Lives, Shankar Vedantam

Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, Sherry Turkle

Permission Marketing. The Icarus Deception. Seth Godin (And there are many more! I just picked those 2 for this moment.)

The Fifth Discipline, Peter Senge

Good to Great, Jim Collins

Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Self-Made Myth: And the Truth About How Government Helps Individiuals and Businesses Succeed. Brian Miller & Mike Lapham

You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times, Howard Zinn

Robin Hood Was Right: A Guide to Giving Your Money For Social Change, Collins, Rogers, and Garner

And these 2 books by Mike Edwards do focus on the nonprofit sector….. Small Change: Why Business Won’t Save the World and Civil Society.

If you live in the USA, have you read any of these books? And if you live in another country, how does any of this pertain to your country? These books are about society…so they certainly do apply to the nonprofit sector, too.

  • Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America? Barbara Ehrenreich is the author. The book was published in 2001…a New York Times bestseller. And while those 19 years have certainly shown some changes and new stuff and and and… the overall story is pretty much the same…and even worse in some cases. Check out Ehrenreich’s “sequels”. Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream (2005). And This Land is Your Their Land (2008).
  • And here’s another useful book The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, Joel Bakan.

Okay. I have to stop now. So many. So much.

I just get so tired of hearing so many people whining about having no time to learn more…read…visit the meaningful and learnful stuff on the Internet. Blah blah blah. If someone isn’t a lifelong learner, how can that someone be a professional?

I believe in lifelong learning – and I don’t see enough of it. I actually read a note somewhere sometime from a consultant who said… “I don’t read books anymore. I’m a consultant now. I know this stuff.” (If I could have found this person, just imagine how I might have responded!!!)

Okey dokey. Enough now.

P.S. Happy birthday and bonne anniversaire, my Tommy…

July 20, 2020

I couldn’t resist…my era…my music

Just for fun? Perhaps for beauty and remembrance and sadness and joy and….

INTRO to Majikat DVD…Earth Tour 1976… That’s Cat Stevens.

Ah the DVD intro…

Concorde is launched.

Students in Soweto, South Africa rise against Apartheid.

Cold war enters its 3rd decade…Bigger and better than ever.

Launch of jelly beans.

Jimmy Carter defeats Gerald Ford.

The internet? What? < 1,000 people enrolled

And Cat Stevens embraks on his Majikat tour….

Get the DVD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

18 months later…Cat quits the music business… And doesn’t perform again for some 30 years.

All the tapes were in files….Not to be seen until the release of Majikat in  2004.

I listen over and over and over to Majikat.

This is so marvelous. Cat Steven was so marvelous. And Yusuf Islam is with us again. Thank you and peace.

P.S. Have you ever heard Peace Train? Or how abour Fathers and Sons?

Filed under: Just for fun

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