Updated: May 3
“Longing to belong. Isn’t that part of human nature? Afraid of being forgotten. Isn’t that part of being human, too? Through relationships with others, we belong. Through commitment to community, we won’t be forgotten.”
– Simone Joyaux, Strategic Fund Development 3rd edition.
As I write this the sun is setting on the life of a fundraising powerhouse. Thousands of fundraisers around the world are shocked and saddened by the news. The shock is quickly giving way to grief. Our hearts are broken.
Like many of you, I’m very sad and am reflecting on the massive impact Simone Joyaux has had on my career. Writing seems the to be the thing to do.
When I first discovered the dynamic, funny, rabble rousing and provocative Simone Joyaux at a conference, I was in awe. As a new Executive Director, everything Simone said was resonating with me. Up until then I only had fundraising experience. Now, as an Executive Director I needed to learn more about governance, strategy and how the entire charitable ecosystem comes together to support a culture of philanthropy as a means to end. The end being program delivery that improves the community. At the time Simone was the only person I knew of talking about these things.
Through her work, Simone taught me that a successful fundraising program was dependant on the rest of the system running smoothly. Successful organizations took holistic approach to raising money and that it was a rare and super tough thing to do.
Cage Rattling Questions
Someone once said to me in a team meeting, “One of the things I appreciate about Kimberley is that she is always the one in the meeting to call out the elephants and table the really tough topics.”
A shift in organizational culture is usually what is required to fix fundraising problems. Tough questions are essential to changing culture and systems. Simone taught me the importance of bravely shining a light on the big issues and how to do it in a way that usually – not guaranteed – maintains rapport. This skill has served the organizations I work with and me extremely well. Thank you, Simone.
Power and Privilege
Years ago, at the International Fundraising Congress Simone was presenting a new session on power dynamics and privilege. She confessed to me privately that it was a bit of an experiment. No slide deck. Just a general outline of the conversation she wanted to have with the thirty or so of us in the room. She had us reconfigure the room into a circle – yup she disrupted the format of the space and facilitated a robust, and tough discussion about power and privilege.
The biggest take away for me was that we must understand the power dynamics of every situation we walk into and that we must name and understand the privilege we carry with us when we walk into a room. Thank you, Simone.
Without one, you can’t raise money. Period. Thank you, Simone.
The first time I was in a social situation with Simone we were sitting together at a private dinner at a conference. I was so nervous and was sure I wasn’t smart enough to carry on a conversation for an entire meal. I ordered the Bouillabaisse full of shellfish. She leaned over and said “Ohhh…. look at all those little creatures in their houses. You aren’t going to eat that are you?” She was just joking of course. I wanted to crawl under the table.
Years later at another event, we knew each other much better, and I reminded her about that awkward dinner. To which she responded: “Come on Kimberley, your skin is thicker than that isn’t it?” Once again, she was right. If I was going to engage in candid conversations and ask cage rattling questions, I needed to get tougher. Thank you, Simone.
Driven by a desire to drive change Simone shared her intellectual property freely, openly and generously to help us all do better for our organizations and the world. Always happy to hop on the phone if you needed advice and very willing to chat about a book draft or session ideas, Simone gave generously to people around her. She lifted others. She lifted me.
A couple of years ago when I told Simone that I had a dogeared first edition copy of Strategic Fund Development and used it all the time, she enthusiastically said “Ooooooh, get the new one, it has loads of resources with it now, including a website!” So of course, I did. And of course, she was right. I know she wasn’t just trying to get me to buy a third edition of a book I already had. She sincerely wanted me to have access to all the extra resources that came with it. Thank you, Simone.
Pay It Forward
We weren’t close friends. I’ve never been to her house nor she mine. We came to know each other at conferences and the occasional dinner. Relationships with conference colleagues have a unique intimacy about them that is hard to explain.
Simone’s, work helped to shape how I show up in the world, how I built my business and I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to tell her that in person not too long ago. She knows.
Simone’s passion and tireless efforts over the course of her career have had an incredible impact on thousands of people. Her thought leadership has advanced the charitable sector in a way that is hard to see and difficult to imagine. To be honest, I wish we were making more progress creating a third sector that functions the way she taught us it should.
What do we do now?
Perhaps the most important thing we can collectively do to honour Simone is to keep her work going. Reread her book, share it, check out the resources available on her website.
We must all continue to fix broken systems in the charitable sector and make sure that we strategically build fundraising programs that advance philanthropic cultures. We need to move beyond small talk and have real, meaningful and important conversations.
We also, more than ever, need to work together for a more just and fairer world. There is a lot more to do. Let’s dig in.
Thank you, Sim ONE. You will be missed.