Stop listening to the windbag “Bizplainers”

You’ve probably seen it yourself: An expert from the corporate world — on your board, hired by your organization, speaking at an event, or otherwise blessing us with their opinion — know exactly what we silly, ignorant nonprofit people need to be told. Even when they really don’t get it.

They talk down to us. Assume we really don’t know anything at all. Tell us things like “You need to have a strategy!” (To be fair, some organizations don’t have a strategy, so that piece of wisdom might be just what they need — though the problem in that case is usually a bit deeper than a lack of a strategy.)

Or worse yet, they give us terrible advice from their corporate experience that’s not relevant for our work.

There’s a new work for those guys (they’re usually guys), thanks to Third Sector. It’s bizplainers. See I’m tired of ‘bizplainers’ patronising the charity sector:

In my experience of a range of charities, the only trustees who are inclined to make snap judgements and lecture the staff are men of around retirement age from moderately successful corporate backgrounds. They assume they know best and must sort out these bumbling charities. There should be a term for businessmen who lecture good causes: I’m voting for “bizplaining.”

They don’t all do it. Some people from the corporate world bring real insight and practical advice. But they do that because they pay attention to the nonprofit world, and they usefully apply their knowledge to our world.

They don’t just explain. They listen.

So next time you get help from someone in the corporate sector, do two things:

  1. Notice whether they go to the trouble to understand your specific challenges and issues — or just go straight to bizplaining what they think you need to know. If so, take everything they say with a huge grain of salt.
  2. Weigh the value of their advice. Don’t just run with it because they are the experts. Make sure it is likely to work for you. (The most common damaging advice from corporate experts is that we should “raise awareness” before we raise funds. That’s approximately how some commercial marketing works. It doesn’t work in fundraising. Don’t do it! It’s bad advice!)

Next time you find yourself being bizplained, don’t let it bother you. It’s more about their insecurity than your knowledge! And don’t take bad advice, no matter who gives it.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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