Leadership

July 27, 2018

Notes from my dorm room….

The recurring series that occurs every summer when I’m teaching in the marvelously cool masters program in philanthropy and fund development at Saint Mary’s University of MN.

The first week of class is over… I’m reading papers from Cohort 28. The assignment: Interviewing a classmate to learn the the classmate’s philanthropic story.

The stories are so cool…how these colleagues wrote about each other. The feelings. Caring. Admiration. Respect.

Imagine a colleague saying something like the statements below…. Or saying something like this about you…

“Both personally and professionally, this philanthropic powerhouse positively impacts people’s lives.

         ♦ How do you want to be remembered? “That I never hurt anyone purposely.”

♦ “My passion is to inspire other peoples’ passion.”

                      ♦ A woman of this caliber has a philanthropic journey that is only beginning.

♦ “There is a lot of work to be done in our world. I hope I can – in some small way – chip away at it.”

She joined a sit-in protest at her comfort level. The next thing she knew, she had busted through her comfort level.

A humanitarian to the core, [he] lives every hour of each day in service to his commitment to make the world a better place.

               ♦ It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.

                        ♦ Asked, “why would you do that?” She responded: “Why would you not?”

          ♦ She doesn’t just talk the talk.

“I hope I’ll be remembered as a ‘listening ear.’ Being there for people. Being present when needed.”

 

 

 

June 11, 2018

One of my favorite “business” books

I believe that conversation is a core business practice. And conversation is different than discussion. Very different!

Theodore Zeldin wrote the most beautiful book about conversation: Conversation – How Talk Can Change Our Lives.

Here are some of my favorite Zeldin statements…direct quotations from his lovely book.

  1. Conversation is a meeting of minds with different memories and habits. When minds meet, they don’t just exchange facts: they transform them, reshape them, draw different implications from them, engage in new trains of thought. Conversation doesn’t just reshuffle the cards; it creates new cards.
  2. Having one’s ideas challenged and transmuted by verbal intercourse makes one aware how much one owes to others, how much a partner can contribute to one’s intellectual, moral and emotional development, thought one remains a separate, unique person.
  3. Conversation, like families, dies when it is inbred. Or when your guests have had more or less the same experience as yourself.
  4. Conversation has to explore new territory to become an adventure.

Filed under: Leadership, Resources

May 30, 2018

Learn to be a better fundraiser

Enough with just training sessions like all those conferences. Hey, I love conferences. I just returned from presenting at the Festival del Fundraising in Italy. Very good. And Cause Camp was good and so was BloomCon and and… These are curated conferences and they are pretty darn marvelous.

But I’m telling you… There’s nothing quite like some academic stuff going down.

Think about it. Sometimes it feels like fundraising is the only profession that you do NOT NOT need to know anything about to join up and do it.

  • “I’m a former bank manager. I have lots of contacts. I know lots about money. So I can become a fundraiser!”
  • “That cool wealthy guy plans the best parties. Let’s hire him as our next development officer. Besides, he has lots of wealthy pals.”

PLEASE PLEASE ! Let’s stop this foolishness now. Every nonprofit deserves a competent fundraiser who knows the body of knowledge. (Not opinion, please!)

Check out AFP’s Fundraising Principles and Practice course. You want to be good — even great?! Enroll now. Very best of professional practice + cutting edge science. And Adrian Sargeant will be with you all the way.

Learn more by clicking here. Really and truly…Are you sure that you know the cutting edge practice and critically important academic science for these topics: Fundraising and donor behavior. Direct response fundraising. Fundraising planning and donor retention. Major gifts and legacies. Corporate fundraising. AND!!! Managing your fundraising team. Click here! Learn the right stuff!

 

May 29, 2018

Act now! Bad stuff going down…

Can your monthly donors – those wonderful people we all want so badly – be held hostage? YES YES.

So we have to stop this! That’s you and me and others.

READ THIS NOW! http://www.theagitator.net/uncategorized/can-your-monthly-donors-be-held-hostage

Then take the survey so the wonderful Agitator peeps can blog more about this.

Yes. Act now! Let’s make sure to stop the hostage-taking of our monthly donors.

May 7, 2018

Knowing what we don’t know…

How does your organization identify that which it doesn’t know – and learn about all that? Here are some of my ideas…

  • Diversity of life experience within staff and board: Gender identity. Sexual orientation. Socioeconomic status. Faith. Race/ethnicity. Profession. What else?
  • Intentional conversations about knowing what we don’t know – and learning about it.
  • Exploring cage-rattling questions to stimulate meaningful conversation.
  • Regular monitoring of the external environment, your organization’s internal environment, your organization’s specific field of endeavor, the nonprofit sector itself.
  • Reading across various disciplines.

What else?

April 23, 2018

How do we know what we don’t know?

I know that I don’t know much about sports (of any kind). And I don’t care that I don’t know much. I can make fun of myself. I can ask others. And there’s no substantive impact on my life or my friendships or my business or….

There’s lots of stuff I do know. And I know how to fill in the gaps of lots of my not knowing.

But what about the important stuff that I don’t know and don’t know that I don’t know it? I think that matters.

Not knowing what I don’t know…That’s worrisome. For me and my life. For my business. For my clients and my community and my society and my world.

How do we know what we don’t know? By reading lots. By connecting with diverse people. By exposing ourselves to unfamiliar things. By venturing beyond where we’re comfortable.

It’s the same for our organizations. First, decide it’s important to monitor what we don’t know and figure out how to know what we don’t know. Build this into your organizational culture. Establish systems and procedures to do this. Engage regularly in conversation at both staff and board levels.

Knowing what we don’t know… And knowing what we don’t know that we don’t know… Both are super important!

April 6, 2018

One of my most favorite things!!!

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota…. Masters Degree in Philanthropy and Development….

Why? The STUDENTS!!! All ages and life experiences and types of nonprofits and different countries and… All committed to challenging assumptions, and exploring, and lifelong learning.

Faculty like Audrey and Gary and now Tom Ahern has joined the faculty!! And we have other new faculty members, too.

Constantly modifying and strengthening the curriculum. (For example: I’m going to spend more time on social justice in the first course students have.)

  • Fundraising of course… planning and major gifts and a really marvelous real life solicitation with a real person!!!
  • Fundraising communications
  • Strategic planning
  • Leadership: Legal and ethical issues in nonprofit organizations
  • Governance (That’s me!)
  • Philanthropy and development: frameworks for thinking and learning. (That’s me, too!)

Part of the program is online. A masters degree in ONE YEAR only. Just 4 semesters. WOW!!!. Students begin with summer 1 residency…Fall and spring online. And then you return to campus once more for summer 2 residency. AND YOU’RE DONE!!

AND THEN!!!!!!!! THE RESIDENCY. Those weeks on campus each summer. Oh wow. I LOVE the residency. Face-to-face. Talking and arguing and applying learnings and experience. Intense. Fun. And building relationships that stick with you on and on.

Contact Cheryl Pray (cpray@smumn.edu) our marvelous Executive Director. Contact me and I’ll tell you all about the program.

Join us! We learn and have fun and create enduring relationships.

 

 

 

April 2, 2018

From my archives. I have archives?

Every summer I head to Saint Mary’s university of Minnesota. I’m on faculty in the Masters Program in Philanthropy and Development. One of the greatest experiences of my life!

And I’m working on new stuff for summer 2018. Are you going to enroll? Check it out! Marvelous and rigorous program for those who want to focus on leadership and scholarship to build stronger organizations, stronger communities, and a stronger world.

This summer we will welcome Cohort 28.

Here’s a blog I wrote back in summer 2010. When I was on campus with Cohort 20. Our great conversation produced some cage-rattling questions for professionals, the profession, charitable organizations, and society itself. Questions like:

1. What does trust mean? Why does it matter?

2. Who is the nonprofit accountable to?

3. How comfortable are you being lost?

4. What makes someone part of a community? What does being part of a community entitle us to, obligate us for?

5. Why does society seem to feel that nonprofits should operate in “poverty-like” ways?

6. Why does a willingness to accept lower wages (than for-profits) seem to be an indicator or qualification for working in the nonprofit sector?

And here’s more from Cohort 20…bumper stickers!

1. Is lost actually found?

2. Don’t mistake leadership for strong talking.

3. Perhaps it’s called development because we find the answer – only questions that lead to more questions.

4. Rise up!

5. Mutiny!

March 26, 2018

Rationalization is pretty much crap…

Neuroscience tells us so. So does psychology. Yes, indeed. Rationalization is pretty much crap.

Charles Green inspired me today, as I write this blog.

I keep recommending Green’s newsletter, TrustedAdvice. Check out the issue “Smarts, Selfies, Shuttles – and Trust.” Read about the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. Read about all the mistakes in decision-making.

YES! MISTAKES! You and I and our organizations make those same kinds of mistakes. Unfortunately, we keep talking about how wise we are and how smart we are and how rational we are. As Green notes, “our over-estimation of our rational behavior” and our “confirmation bias” can cause disasters big and small.

Green’s newsletter inspired me to  go to the original sources — and share with you. The original sources like Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. These two – along with others – established the cognitive bias for our human errors. Biases. Heuristics.

Kahneman won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his seminal work in psychology, challenging the rational model of judgment and decision-making. (And he said it was a joint prize with his partner of so many years, Tversky, who had died previously.)

I have Kahneman’s book Thinking Fast and Slow on my business book shelf. I need to get off my butt and read it!!!!!

Or maybe I should read Michael Lewis’ book The Undoing Project, all about Kahneman and Tversky and their years of research and discovery. Lewis is the author of Moneyball, The Blind Side, and more.

I’m wandering. I get to do that in my own blog!!!!

Back to my beginning. Rationalization is pretty much crap. We aren’t rational. But we justify our decision-making by saying we’re rational. 

Imagine talking about neuroscience and psychology — and NON-rationalization — at a board meeting. Just enough to get everyone on board that we have to be very very very very careful. Imagine talking about NON-rationalization with staff … and carefully figuring out how we avoid the human error that lives in us all.

Maybe by confronting the crap, we’ll reduce the mess. Just maybe.

 

 

 

March 19, 2018

Answers to the Savvy Fundraiser’s Quiz Show

My March newsyletter introduced the Savvy Fundraiser’s Quiz Show. As promised in the newsyletter, here are the answers!!

Question #1: What’s the most important thing a board member does?

  • Attend board meetings.  X
  • Give an annual financial contribution.
  • Help raise money.

Answer: To be a board member, you must participate in the process of governance. Corporate governance only happens at board meetings because governance is a group activity. Yes, the other two choices are obligations of board members, too. But the single most important thing is attending and participating in board meetings because that’s where/when governance happens. Visit the Free Download Library on my website and read all the materials about governance/boards/board members.

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Question #2: What’s the one thing a board chair should NOT do?

  • Serve as spokesperson for the organization   X
  • Get to know the various staff people.   X
  • Provide regular advice and counsel to the CEO/ED.   X

Answer: This is a trick question. The board chair should NOT do any of these!

  • The CEO/ED serves as the spokesperson for the organization. The CEO/ED can assign someone else to serve as chief spokesperson for a particular issue or moment in time. That could be the board chair or the fundraiser or or and and and and. It’s the CEO/ED’s decision.
  • Of course, the board chair may meet any number of the staff – same holds true for other board members. However, the board chair does not “get to know” staff. Like about families and friends and life and the job and… That can jeopardize the separation of management and governance.
  • So what does “regularly” mean? Of course, the CEO/ED and Board Chair prepare board meeting agendas together. Talk with each other about issues that come before the board. And the CEO/ED can certainly ask the board chair for advice and counsel, or vice versa. But be very very careful. Regularly? Ok. Once/month if the board meets monthly. Periodically an email about something . But if the board chair and CEO/ED talk/meet weekly? On no! Biweekly updates or something? Be careful!!! Sounds like the board chair is acting as CEO/ED. And the actual CEO/ED is just the chief operating officer. Be very very very very careful!!!!!!

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Question #3: Who needs to be the governance expert in your organization?

  • Board Chair
  • Executive Committee
  • Chief executive (CEO/ED or whatever title your organization uses)   X

Answer: The one person we can count on is the CEO/ED. Hired. Paid. Professional! S/he is obligated to learn this stuff and lots of other stuff, too. Read! Workshops! Experience. Etc. And just because a board member has served on many boards does NOT NOT NOT mean s/he knows the governance body of knowledge, etc. etc. In my experience, most boards are mediocre at best. And far too many are dysfunctional. I hold the CEO/ED accountable for both mediocrity and dysfunction. By virtue of position, the CEO/ED is required to be highly knowledge about governance – and also be a darn good enabler to help the board chair facilitate good governance. (And if your board doesn’t listen and allow you to enable — then work diligently to change the board members. Or find another job. You deserve better.)

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The Savvy Fundraiser’s Quiz Show has many more questions and answers. If you want me to publish more in my newsyletter, just let me know.

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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