Leadership

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…

June 15, 2020

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

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.

May 4, 2020

Need help with fundraising? And how about that legacy stuff!?!?

Check out Globetrotting Fundraiser, Ligia Peña, M.Sc., CFRE, MInstF

How about the Online Legacy Bootcamp? Next session starts in May! (The April sesson is sold out.)

Check out her blogs and free webinar about building a case for a legacy program…

Want a coach? Visit Ligia

April 20, 2020

Rich people&coronavirus…YouMe&philanthropy

This lengthy article is the result of reading an article by Andy Serwer with Max Zahn: “Why the rent is due for rich people in the time of the coronavirus.”  Read the Serwer/Zahn article first.

And now, watch out, I’m going to babble and even lecture a bit. You know me…the Simone Uncensored bitch…So here goes……………….

………….An Article in the time of the Coronavirus…from Simone Joyaux…………..   

Philanthropy….From the Greek, philanthropia. Love of humankind. But my favorite definition of philanthropy comes from John Gardner, voluntary action for the common good.

Doesn’t matter if it’s $10 or $25 million. Voluntarily taking action for the common good. Common good…community…Concept of civil society.

And, of course, philanthropy means giving money AND/OR!!!! time.

Of course I want the very rich to give lots of money. Especially as millions of people worldwide are losing their jobs, closing their businesses…

However, I must say that I’m really tired of the focus on big money and big news, e.g., disasters like a hurricane or coronavirus. Because shit happens every day and people have been starving for decades and living on the streets and guns keep killing kids and college is too expensive and there’s no universal healthcare. And in the USA, only 2% or so of GDP has gone to charity during the past 60 years. (I hope you read Giving USA, the annual report.)

Ah, the big money…Certainly the culture of the US of A. Money money money…The celebrity of wealth. Big money always seems to win. What a terrible culture.

One of my pet peeves is the phrase “major donor” and “major gift”… All that money that those wealthy people give/gave… I’m pretty damn sure it didn’t change their lives at all. I’d like everyone to think of the mother at the charter school (former client of mine) who gave 5 single dollar bills to the school where her child goes. And that money would have been spent on her family’s special holiday dessert. But she and her family gave the gift to the school instead.

Yes, I want those wealthy peeps to give and give more and give regularly. But I want every country and every person and everyone to respect the others who give time and money. Shall we call them the minor donors? Because if there are major donors, there must be minor donors. WTF!!

Here’s something I think about always…. Philanthropy…. VOLUNTARY action for the common goodSo I want everyone – especially those who have excess money – to choose to give.

And I suppose that I could say that since really wealthy people made their money from their communities … I’d like to think that those very wealthy people actually think that – on a pretty substantial level – that they actually “owe” care and voluntary action for the COMMON good.

In my deepest hopeful world, I dream that all people look at themselves and wonder what they might do for the common good. 

  • Obligations like voting – civic duty – building a civil society. Read Mike Edwards’ books about civil society.
  • DEFINITELY read Mike’s book Small Change: Why Business Won’t Save the WorldTo me, this book is a must read for anyone who works in philanthropy. And I’m thinking a must read for all of us in society. Because for-profit business isn’t going to save any world…any community.

In my deepest soul, I dream that each of us and all of us look at others as human beings…with basic human rights…That we all fight for social justice…welcome inclusion…demand equity. And all that is built by a civil society…promoted through philanthropy…Voluntary action for the common good. That’s what I keep fighting for.

  • I respect the mother who gave those $5 to her children’s school.
  • I’m thankful that some really RICH people are giving money now…and I dream that they will give in the future as regular philanthropists.

I look at Tom and me…We aren’t Bezos or any of the other names in the article, “Why the rent is due for rich people in the time of coronavirus.” But we’ve worked hard for years and have no children and live life well — and we’re damn affluent!

Tom and I are so fortunate. We’ve saved enough to retire well, too. We have no children and no one who needs care from us. So 100% of our estate goes to charity. And every year we give approximately 20% of our income to charity. Why not? We have the money!

Philanthropy…Voluntary action for the common good. And there’s the challenge. I do believe that philanthropy is voluntary. In my dream world, everyone who can is philanthropic in some way. 

  • Giving time at the Food Bank or Planned Parenthood or that environmental org you love
  • Giving money to the charter school, to fight for women’s rights and against birth defects, to save the land and the water…to fight against the coronavirus…

Everyone gives for his/her/their own reasons … whether it’s businesses, foundations, individuals… You and your family, Tom and me.

  • Yes, some give charitable gifts to get their names broadcast around town and even around the world. Some give to get positive PR…to compensate for bad actions… for glory and fame…
  • Some give because they want to serve on the most famous/important board in the community.
  • Some give to fight homelessness – perhaps that person was once homeless or knew someone…
  • Others give because they love the land and water and worry about climate change and…

I’ve worked in the philanthropic sector for 45 years. It’s not my right to tell others where to give. It’s not my right to evaluate your choices.

I can hope that you give. I do hope you choose philanthropy – voluntary action for the common good – to be in your life. 

I have chosen philanthropy – even when I die…and am dead.

P.S. An interesting, perhaps, P.S. Based on their own missions, some charities won’t accept gifts if the proposed donor(s) have “tainted” money. Tobacco companies intentionally addicted people…so have some drug companies. Imagine the conversation that cancer and lung associations had and may still have, should we accept gifts from those businesses.

April 9, 2020

Do this NOW….PLEASE!!!!!!

COMPLETE THIS SURVEY? Why? Because participating in research is a great thing we pros should do to learn more.

https://philanthropycentre.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_1NyS6PHv16MuQoR

If you’re a fundraiser – PLEASE COMPLETE THIS SURVEY. You’ll learn how you can do your work better, based on this research!!!! https://philanthropycentre.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_1NyS6PHv16MuQoR

 

***** RESEARCH TOPIC: How do organizations plan their fundraising?

  • For example, questions like: What strategic issues do you consider? What’s the board role? What tools do you use? And so very much more!!!!
  • Just imagine: If you and I know the answers to all this — and more — imagine how we can improve our work!!! Yippee!!!!!!!!!!!

***** SURVEY CONDUCTED BY: The marvelous Institute for Sustainable Philanthropy (Adrian Sargeant & Jen Shang).

 

CLICK NOW!!! https://philanthropycentre.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_1NyS6PHv16MuQoR

 

And as the Institute says,Literally every reply we receive will make a MASSIVE difference AND we will love you forever!”

March 16, 2020

Why so many secrets?

[Another old Simone Uncensored… Before 2010…]

Who taught us to be secretive?

In business, we keep secrets from employees and customers. We keep secrets from donors and volunteers. Why?

Transparency is good. Honesty and truth build trust. Candor and communications nurture understanding and ownership.

Sure, you have to be conscientious and wise with transparency. You don’t violate the privacy of clients or employees. You probably don’t discuss litigation. You make judgments. But the default is, too often, “keep it private,” “don’t talk about it,” “there’s no need for them to know.”

Lack of transparency does a lot of damage, unnecessary damage when it’s so easy to be transparent.

Why not share your budget and financial report and financial situation with your donors, volunteers, and employees. Explain what’s happening and why. Explain what you are doing about the situation.

More transparency reduces the anxiety of not knowing. More transparency builds understanding and support. More transparency may generate useful insights and ideas – and more transparency with donors can certainly generate more gifts.

Maybe what I perceive as a lack of transparency could be lack of awareness and poor business practice on the part of nonprofits. Just the other day, I was trying to find the board members of a charity. But no list on the agency’s website. How silly. According to a recent study by GuideStar (“The State of Nonprofit Transparency, 2008: Voluntary Disclosure Practices”), only 73% of the studied charities post a board list online.

Another example: Your audited financial statement is a public document and should be readily available for anyone. Why make people ask? Just make it available, like on your website. But the GuideStar study said that only 13% of the studied charities post the audit online. And only 3% noted that the audit is available off line.

Transparency is good. Basic transparency about the fundamentals is essential; not to do so is just plain stupid. And more transparency is really really good and really builds trust, understanding, and ownership. And trust, understanding, and ownership bring many good things.

March 8, 2020

Learning and change…An old Simone Uncensored…2009

I just got off the telephone with a colleague who was bemoaning the fact that we just don’t change. We don’t change the way we do fund development.

Sure, people go to conferences. People listen to speakers and read books and even read research. But change doesn’t seem to be the result.

I agree with her. Hey, that’s what Keep Your Donors talks about a lot. Questioning and learning. Learning and change. And how individuals and organizations don’t do this enough.

In fact, asking why and questioning and learning and changing are the framework for the book. Just read Intermezzo #1 Why and Chapter 2 The Red Pants Factor and Intermezzo # 5 You and Your Organization Sprinting into the Future.

One of my favorite quotes says: “The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice.” (From Dune: House Harkonnen, by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. Brian Herbert is Frank Herbert’s son. Dad Frank wrote Dune, one of those seminal books, a seminal sci fi book. I’m a big fan – of science fiction, especially science fiction fantasy.)

Anyway, back to questioning and learning and changing…

Asking why is more important than asking how. We ask “how” far too much. We learn a bunch of hows and combine a bunch of hows. And often just make a big mess. Without understanding “why,” knowing how just doesn’t help that much.

The French have a phrase, the folie du pourquoi. It means the craziness of asking why.

Just think about it. Anywhere anytime in the world some child asks, “Why?” And the adult gives an answer and the child asks, “Why?” Question. Answer. Question. Answer.

We’re great little probers as kids. It’s a way to navigate the strange world.

But by the teen years, we’re purged. Yup. That’s what research says. By the early teens, people are trained to no longer ask why.

School tests teach a right answer. Domineering teachers discourage questioning. Boards embrace dysfunctional politeness and treat questioning as disloyal. Someone sometime told you and me that disagreeing and arguing wasn’t nice.

How sad. And how problemmatic.

Because asking questions is how we learn and change. Asking questions is how we stimulate deep conversations. It’s the questions that matter most.

We need better questions. Questions that rattle cages and challenge assumptions. Questions that stimulate thinking and deep conversation. That’s how we learn.

Reactivate your childhood folie du pourquoi. Stop assuming there are answers. Relentlessly ask questions – especially why. (Avoid how for a while!)

And please, learn from questioning and learn from conversation. Learn when you read and when you attend conferences.

Then change. Change now. Things are rather a mess now. So let’s change. Now.

“You sure get a lot of questions in the world, without exactly getting the same number of answers. In fact, there was a huge gap between the two numbers.” (From Ysabel, by Guy Gaviel Kay, one of my favorite sci fi fantasy authors.)

February 10, 2020

Anger. Sadness.

I’m in a strange place right now. Politics. My country. Justice. Competence and excellence for my beloved nonprofit sector. Whatever…

ANGER. And, of course, how about anger management.

Lots of statements – often directed at women – “curb your anger…”

But then I read “Why Tinkerbell Quit Anger Management.” A poem in a book called Fierce Fairytales, by Nikita Gill. Why did Tinkerbell quit anger management? “Because whole kingdoms have already spent millennia trying to keep women subdued, only to be discarded in old age.”

I searched “telling women to top being angry” on the Internet. Tons & tons & tons of articles…. Here are a few of my favorite titles:

And as long as I’m on the subject of anger. How about we acknowledge and honor the anger of people of color, too? I’ve said it before…Read Ta Nehisi Coates books. See his marvelous articles in The Atlantic. Find so many other righteous books and articles. Read Peggy McIntosh’s Invisible Knapsack of sooooo many years ago.

Not enough progress. Too damn little change.

And even in our own beloved philanthropic sector. We’re supposed to be better. See my own Philanthropy’s Moral Dilemma.

Am I more angry or more sad? Am I equally angry and sad?

Looking back to why Tinkerbell quit anger management…

I had to give up on their remedies. They kept trying to make me less angry, but I refuse to surrent my rage. Because who kingdoms have already spent millenia trying to keep women subdued, only to be discard in old age.

My fury gets things done, it has saved lives, it has made the world listen where I could not speak, my anger screamed.

….So no I love my tinderbox heart so easy to light up, all it takes is half a spark

I am small and I am angry, it is how I channel my energy and I like me that way.

Thank you Nikita Gill.

I am angry and will continue to channel my anger and speak it and share it.

I am deeply deeply sad. And still see to manage it.

February 10, 2020

Part 1. Part 2. Pretty darn sad.

February 2, I woke up to this. From Tom Ahern’s blog. I agree. Makes me hugely sad and angry.

Are most charities unwittingly in the “go-away” business?You have to wonder.

         I don’t really expect all that much from any charity I support. I’m not looking for rides to the airport or artisanal cheese plates. As our household’s income grew over the decades, Simone and I made donations to more and more good causes. Hey, we didn’t have kids (which fully explains that second home in France). We also had a reassuring retirement fund socked away (so we wouldn’t end up homeless, as a friend or two had finished up). And so — yeah, sure; why not — we could afford occasional gifts to charities that made us feel better because they were fighting the very things we wanted to fight.

So now we give to 30 or so charities a year.

I quickly saw that most nonprofits were lousy at prolonging my pleasure, though.

“Here’s all I want from you,” I finally wrote in a book. “Tell me I’m a reasonably good person. Don’t go crazy. But just tell me that my help matters.” Even so: most of “our” charities remain hesitant, self-absorbed, indifferent, narcissistic, negligent, uncouth, dumb, rude, demanding, stiff, formal, and/or cold.

Poor lovers get replaced quickly. Just saying.

Examine your own dating past if this surprises you.

==============

The very next thing I read is Seth Godin’s blog Again and again and again

Ruts don’t dig themselves.

Most of the time, we’re in a rut because that’s precisely where we put ourselves.

Actions become habits, and habits get repeated because they feel safe.

The easiest way to make things more interesting is to simply stop repeating your habitual behavior.

And that often comes from reacting to triggers. Remove the triggers and you can alter the habits.

Tiny changes. Different ways to keep score.

Tomorrow comes daily. But we don’t have to take the same route to get there.

==============

It’s as if Tom and Seth were sharing one brain while writing.

I want to yell and scream and rant and rave. I want to weep with deep sadness.

Oh… I already do so regularly… In the privacy of my office. With my clients. While presenting.

Tom and Seth just said it better. Thank you.

February 3, 2020

Wandering around this thought

“It’s a strange feeling to miss someone you never met.” A comment made in a YouTube video of Freddie Mercury / Queen performance. …

Think about that beautiful statement…to miss someone you never met. I think that’s different than admiring someone you never met. To wish you’d met someone that you hadn’t – and never would – meet.

I’ve been thinking lots about like and love… due to the Philanthropic Psychology Certificate Program that I’m taking from Jen Shang and the Instititute for Sustainable Philanthropy. Just imagine what you could learn… the psychology of liking and loving… and how we can use that for fundraising.

So many people I admire over the course of my life. Admire and respect and wish I’d spoken with, learned from, worked with…

But how is “missing someone” different? What does it mean to miss someone? Why do we miss someone?

But right now…I’m just going back to that strange feeling to miss someone you never met. Damn these emotions. Emotions. Feelings.

Any connection to anything any of us do?

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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