November 29, 2016

If “they” fail the 20 questions….

Maybe you should find a better place to work.

Visit Tom Ahern’s new website. Pretty cool. I’m impressed.

Check out “The TEST Your Boss MUST Take!” 

Click here. Take it yourself first, of course. (I’m taking it shortly. Not sharing what I score but making darn sure that I learn the right answers if I fail questions!!!)

Share with your staff colleagues. (Maybe do it as a group in secret somewhere?)

Make sure your fundraising boss (and CEO) take it and learn this stuff and expect you to know the answers and make sure you know the answers. And teach the questions and the answers to your fundraising colleagues and your fundraising boss and your executive director / CEO person.

It’s kinda okay if your boss fails the test, but only if your boss is the ED/CEO. It’s only okay if your ED/CEO boss fails the test if that person says: “Well, of course I don’t know all the answers. But I expect you to know the answers and explain to me. And when you tell me to do stuff, I do it. Including that letter that I thought was kinda icky. But I sign it because you know the answers to these 20 questions. Thank you thank you. I was so smart to hire you!”

And if your ED/CEO doesn’t say what’s above…And continues fighting. You fight back. FIGHT BACK!!!!! No more whiny fundraisers. Your job is to fight back and explain and pass on your learnings. And if you fight for a couple years (yes…it can take that long) — and still no change in behavior from the bossies… THEN FIND ANOTHER JOB. YOU DESERVE BETTER!!!!

September 29, 2016

Lovely relationship building

Doris, Tom, and I go to the theatre together. We subscribe to the Gamm. Just saw Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia. Amazing play. As usual, great acting and directing and……….. (See the screen scroll. Good website, by the way.)

Ushered to our seats. Envelope on my seat, “Simone Joyaux.”  (Wow. That’s cool. I don’t see envelopes on other seats. Really cool!)

“Dear Simone, Enjoy the show! I think it’s smart, sharp and challenging. Would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for your support! All good wishes, Kate.” (Business card enclosed from Kate Anderson, Development Director)

Yes, Kate. The play was smart, sharp and challenging. (Talking about the play, our shared experience. Because of course Kate has seen the play!) And so well done, as usual by the Gamm players. And the set and the director and and …

How nice that Kate wrote me a note. Special. I was surprised. (Surprise is good.) Totally unexpected. (Core element of relationship building.) I’ll be she does this with other subscribers and donors, too.

Good for you, Kate. Hey Kate’s boss and board…. really nice work by your Kate. I think she understands relationship building. Kindness to subcribers (yay retention). Kindness to donors (yay retention). 

I’m not a big donor. Not at all.



June 27, 2016

Will you still love me tomorrow?

Thank you Ms. Pam Grow and the Grow Report. The headline… Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow… So of course, I remembered Carole King.

Why does Pam say this? “Commercial businesses retain 94% of their customers while the nonprofit sector retains only 41% of their donors.”

I keep promising to write a series of blogs or newsyletters about fundraising….using song lyrics. Try this scenario!

“You’re So Vain You Probably Think This Song is About you”  … Donors are yelling at us. Hear them shout. I give through your NGO to fulfill my own aspirations. The song is about me, the donor. Not not you the organization.

“You Don’t Own Me” … You don’t own your donors. Your donors choose. And Lesley Gore is speaking for every single donor everywhere. “You don’t own me. I’m not just one of your many toys. You don’t own me…Don’t tell me what to do.”

“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” Who’s singing here? Maybe the fundraiser, alone in her office. “Tonight you’re mine completely. You give your love so sweetly….But will you love me tomorrow?” But maybe this is the donor singing. Just think about that. Tonight, your NGO seems to love me completely. The thank you letter was great. And a board member even called to thank me. But I’ve been abandoned as a donor before. You don’t tell me how you’re using my money. You don’t know what customer centered and donor-centered mean.

“I Can’t Make You Love Me.” Look in the mirror, Ms. Organization. Think long and hard Mr. NGO. You can’t make me love you. You can’t “educate me” so I love you. Stop it! You actually make me disrespect you.

Thank you, Pamela Grow and the Grow Report…. for motivating me to write more stories with song lyrics.

Hey Simone Uncensored readers, visit the Grow Report. Check out the 2016 Donor Love Toolkit.


May 11, 2016

I’m on a cool list from a cool guy with other cool people!

Who should influence the future of fundraising? Just read Mark Phillips “Queer Ideas” fundraising blog.

I’m so proud to be on the list with other cool people like Shanon Doolittle and Rory Green and Roger Craver and Jen Love and more…

Here’s why you need to read this blog:

  • Because Mark himself is marvelous. Check out his blogs and tweets and his company, Bluefrog.
  • Because you’ll meet some people you may not know. You can visit their websites and tweets and blogs and…
  • And please please… Watch the imbedded video, Fundraising Theatre 2012. If you haven’t ever seen Tony Elischer, watch close. Tony died too young and too early. But he invented and created some of the most fun and illuminating and weirdly different presentations and extravaganzas that you’ll ever see.
May 2, 2016

Where can you get money?

Step #1: Read this issue of The Agitator about giving across generations. Read my response, posted at the Agitator.

Step #2: Study the infographic.

Step #3: Review the original report from Blackbaud.

Step #4: Share the infographic with your boss, the program staff, and the board. Explain the implications. Offer insights. And, of course, make sure your development staff understands, acknowledges, accepts, and performs accordingly!!!

Step #5: Stop the crap. (“Oh my gosh, we need to focus on millennials and get gifts from them.”)

Step #6: Pay attention to research. You know: FACTS. SCIENCE. Destroy ill-informed personal opinion as soon as it rears its silly, ugly head.

Step #7: Please please please. Could we please build a profession? Could we please behave like professionals?

Thank you.


March 21, 2016

Read and share – and fight for these!

Three really great blog reads.

Read. Learn. Share with staff colleagues, bosses, and boards.

Explain why. Help staff, bosses, and boards understand and accept and own and focus on the right stuff.

That’s your job. To use the right stuff from the right people. Explain the why. Help all those others accept and own and focus on the right stuff, not the wrong stuff.

This takes time. And I’m not talking weeks or months!


And if you can’t get this done… Look in the mirror first. Maybe you’re the problem. But maybe you’re not the problem. Maybe they’re the problem.

Find an ally (or two) to help you help them get it.

And if that doesn’t work…. Look for another job. You deserve better.

Filed under: Resources / Research

February 4, 2016

My stories…NOT YOURS!

Every fundraiser knows that story telling is critical. And stories are full of feelings. You know…all those emotions…like anger, fear, greed, guilt, flattery, exclusivity, salvation. And hope and love and and and…

Suddenly reason steps in. The fundraiser is explaining the rational rationale why you, the donor, should give. Oh my. Oh dear. Could we be any dumber? Yes, just plain dumb according to tons of research. (Just visit Tom Ahern and all his writings about neuroscience from all those neuroscience researchers. Read Seth Godin’s great blog, “A reason persuasion is surprisingly difficult.” And check out the research he’s referring to.

That’s bad enough….pursuing reason when emotion is what makes action happen. (I just love this quote by Canadian neurologist Donald Calne: “The essential difference between emotion and reason is that emotion leads to action, while reason leads to conclusions.” As a fundraiser – or marketer of any kind – I hope you want action!)

But too often, fundraisers (and their board members and staff colleagues) get confused about which stories and whose stories. Then the story listening part of the work gets lost somewhere in translation. You’re not listening to my story. And rest assured, that can get pretty ugly. Check out this article about fundraisers denying me my story.

Seth is pretty darn great at talking about story telling and story listening and who the story belongs to. Here’s one of my Seth all-time favorites. “The brand is a story. But it’s a story about you, not the brand.” And the “you” is the prospect, the donor, the customer, the buyer…

Here’s how Seth describes marketing – and what I call the non-listening problem. “Marketing is the empathetic act of telling a story that works, that’s true for the person hearing it, that stands up to scrutiny. But marketing is not about merely sharing what you, the marketer believes. It’s about what we, the listener, believe.”

And here’s one last thought: “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.” [Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Angel’s Game]


November 30, 2015

My donors…Your donors…Our donors…Whose donors?

“Yes, the Smiths are my donors,” said the Major Gifts Officer. The Annual Fund Director responds, “But the Smiths used to be my donors.”

The direct marketing team talks about their donors…not to be confused with the donors belonging to the special events team.

And me? I’m thinking this is rather weird and slightly uncomfortable. I’m wondering how the Smiths and Jones and Mrs. Thomas and all the other donors would feel if they overheard fundraisers talking.

Perhaps we fundraisers and our organizations could improve the conversation by – at the least – talking about the donors as our organization’s donors. Possibly – at least – the donors are part of our organization’s family.

Donors as part of the organization’s family. Donors as part of the team working together to save the children and the cats and dogs and the tundra and the trees. Donors as teammates fighting for human rights and healthcare and more theatre.

That certainly sounds better.

But…Be careful.

What do you think donors think about? Do you think donors think a lot about your organization? Do you think your donors think about belonging to your organization?

Donors think about their own lives and their own joys and worries and challenges and jobs and families and schedules and responsibilities and……….

And when it comes to giving time and money, donors think about their own interests and their aspirations. Donors think about what they’re trying to accomplish with their gifts.

The Smiths look for an organization to give through to fulfill their own aspirations. The Smiths don’t think about belonging to your organization. Furthermore, I suspect the Smiths get rather annoyed when they used to speak with that person in the annual fund and then got transferred to a major gifts person.

Donors don’t belong to us. Donors belong to themselves.

And while we fundraisers and our organizations (hopefully!) think lots about donors because we are donor-centered (hopefully!)……donors just don’t think that much about us.

Here’s what Jeff Brooks said in his October 22, 2015 blog:

  • Your donors are not your donors — as in, an asset you own or control.
  • But your organization is their charity — something they use to accomplish their goals.
  • Keep this distinction in mind, and your fundraising will be a lot better.



July 13, 2015

Fun. Illuminating. Critical for fundraising.


If you subscribe to my monthly e-news, the June edition provided information about emotions from Roger Dooley. Here it is again:

“Disney Knows Your Brain and Wants Your Emotions,” by Roger Dooley

And learn about Pixar’s new animated film, Inside Out.

Then Lisa Sargent connected me to 6 Minutes of Pixar Feels. Oh my gosh – this is stunning! Also, don’t miss Pixar’s 22 Golden Rules of Storytelling. (Many of us call Lisa the “thank-you queen.” Lisa specializes in email and direct mail. Visit her!

And if you’ve read any of Tom Ahern‘s writing or attended is workshops…. You’ll learn lots about emotions.

Here’s one more item to read now!

Jeff Brooks asks us: “Are you suffering from these fundraising delusions?” Jeff is citing from Social Velocity | 5 Fundraising Delusions Nonprofits Suffer by Neil Edgington. I can’t figure out which of the delusions are my favorites. Probably “Crowdfunding and events are fundraisers.” Read. Think about. And please review with your boss and your board! If you haven’t subscribed to Jeff’s daily blog yet, do so now!

June 15, 2015

Myths, legends, falsehoods, misunderstandings…

And all of these harm fundraising!

I keep telling you to engage your boss and board members and staff colleagues in a conversation. Conversations! Not presentations. Not PowerPoint. Not discussion where one side is trying to advocate the other side. And no personal opinions … only body of knowledge.

And I keep saying, “Start your conversations with an interesting blog. Or an interesting piece of research.”

So here I go again!

Share “Fundraising Myths and Dark Legends” at The Agitator (Craver and Belford). I’ve told you a gazillion times to subscribe to this daily blog. Read “Fundraising Myths and Dark Legends” over and over again. (Posted on November 25, 2014)

Now start those conversations. Take your boss to lunch. Of course, s/he reads the posting beforehand. Then you two talk. Use “Fundraising Myths and Dark Legends” as the basis for one of your Fund Development Committee meetings. The only item on the agenda. Examine. Explore. Apply. Learn. Change.

Talk about this blog at a board meeting for 15 minutes. Forget the dollars raised. Talk about how to raise the dollars. Forget talking about how to raise the dollars. Talk about how to keep donors, build loyalty.

Do it. Have those conversations.

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