Stuff to Do Right Now . . . Or at Least Pretty Soon

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Simone Joyaux

I’m an avid reader. I read for professional development. I read for fun.

I read professional books and publications to give me new information—or old information in a new way. Reading stimulates my thinking and then I figure out how to apply it to particular situations.

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I read books about the nonprofit sector and fund development. But mostly I read books outside the nonprofit sector and then apply those learnings to the nonprofit sector.

I assume other professionals read lots, too. I get great suggestions from some colleagues. But too often, it seems that others don’t read much. Or don’t read beyond the narrow boundary of the nonprofit sector.

So here are some of my favorite authors and resources. I highly recommend these to you.

Read Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy. It’s available. Right now. Visit the website.

Read the results. Think about the findings. Explore the trends. Read Ruth McCambridge’s and Rick Cohen’s pieces about it on this website. Talk with your colleagues—and your Fund Development Committee and your board—about the implications for your organization.

You’ll learn useful information that can help you convince your staff and board colleagues how to best approach fund development. You’ll have facts—based on research—that can counter false assumptions and personal opinions. This great resource talks about the economy and disaster giving and donor and fundraising research for the year.

And now—for the first time—this marvelous resource is available to you on the Internet. Just visit the website.

Regularly read the Nonprofit Quarterly, Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Harvard Business Review.

Marvelous publications. Informative. Stimulating. Challenging. What more could anyone want?

These are not news publications. News is good. Of course, we all read The Chronicle of Philanthropy for news. And when The Chronicle reports on research, I go to the original source of that research for more.

But news isn’t all that matters. I want in-depth strategic exploration. I want to be stimulated and challenged. So I read NPQ, HBR, and SSIR. Their articles challenge my assumptions, help me expand my thinking, stimulate my creativity.

Read Maggie Jackson’s Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age.

This one really hit me hard.

I’m so tired of multi-tasking that reduces the quality of conversation and decision making. If I see one more board member use her PDA during a board meeting, I will crush the PDA—and possibly the user, too. And hey, how about the train conductor who was text messaging while driving the train? We all know how that turned out.

This research-based book explores our lack of attention—and the implications of that lack. Think about relationship building and your donors and your volunteers. Think about your friends and kids and life partner, too.

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  • Melissa Brown

    Really appreciate the list of good reads, and also very grateful to see Giving USA on it.


  • Alan Arthur

    In her mostly helpful article, “Unraveling Development..”, Ms. Joyaux expressed anger at the use of a PDA in a board meeting. Before PDA’s, I took notes on a yellow pad about the meeting itself and also notes about related issues that the meeting discussion prompted. Now I use my PDA. Occasionally, during especially boring and unproductive discussions (and almost every meeting has one), I even check an e-mail or the time. As long as I’m not talking on the phone, it is dysfunctional to be angry about it. I suggest we have expectations about results, not methods. Does the board member listen and contribute to important discussions and decisions, does he/she meet other expectations? If so, what does it matter that they use a PDA in a meeting? And if not, use of a PDA in meetings is not the problem. By the way, it always helps to have nothing but critical discussion items on your meeting agendas.

  • Simone Joyaux

    Yes, indeed, we need good meeting agendas. And we need board members who pay attention and demand good meeting agendas. If you’re taking notes on your PDA or your laptop, go for it. But many people are not. They are multi-tasking rather than paying attention to the meeting content. And to everyone out there: How about eye contact and looking like you care about what’s happening in the room? How about watching the body language of others so you can help engage them? How about demonstrating your interest?

    That’s what I’m talking about. And even that brief moment of looking at email… not acceptable as far as I’m concerned.

    How about a group chat about what norms we want – together – in our room, at our meetings, in our work?