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Simone P. Joyaux, ACFRE, Principal, Joyaux Associates


Toronto colleague Cathy Mann says: “I think fundraising is the canary in the coal mine for the organization.”


If fundraising isn’t going well, what does that say? Maybe the fundraiser doesn’t know the body of knowledge. Maybe the chief executive doesn’t listen to the fundraiser. Maybe the board and its members are lost in space when it comes to fund development. Maybe the quality of your program isn’t what it used to be.

Most fundraising problems are not really fundraising problems. They are problems elsewhere in the institution. But those problems elsewhere do impact fundraising. For example, unhelpful board members are a recruitment and performance problem. And sometimes a chicken problem… because the organization won’t fire lousy board members.

Often, unhelpful board members result from poor enabling by fundraisers. Too many fundraisers don’t effectively lead, facilitate, and guide board members to do the right stuff the right way.There’s a body of knowledge, principles and best practice – otherwise why would any of us go Congress 2013 in Toronto? Fundraisers who don’t learn and continue learning are a big problem for the sector. Don’t say you don’t have the time. Make the time!

If you’re one of the good fundraisers but your chief executive has his own opinions, enable him to learn and change. If he doesn’t follow your expertise, then leave. You deserve better. If board members remain unhelpful – despite your top-notch enabling – help change the board. And if that doesn’t work, leave.

Position fundraising as the canary in the coal mine.



Simone P. Joyaux, ACFRE provides consulting services in fund development, strategic planning, and board development to nonprofits. She speaks at conferences worldwide and is a faculty member for the Masters Program in Philanthropy and Development at Saint Mary’s University, Minnesota. Her latest book is “Firing Lousy Board Members”. Simone will be presenting sessions on stewardship and leadership at Congress 2013. You can visit her online at

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