Jerry Cianciolo: the secret hero behind the secret heroes

Most likely, you’ve never heard of him. And that’s exactly how he wanted it.

Jerry Cianciolo passed recently after a short battle with cancer.

He was co-founder, along with his wife Kathleen Brennan, of Emerson and Church Publishers. For decades, they were the leading publisher of books about fundraising. You have likely read at least one of their titles. If you haven’t, you should, ASAP: Find the books here.

If you want to know more about Jerry Cianciolo, read this excellent post at The Agitator: Jerry Cianciolo is Dead.

Jerry’s life and approach tell us something about the fundraising life we all live. In this way:

Despite his accomplishments and his impact on the world, Jerry was not “famous.” On the dozens of books he edited and published — books that have helped thousands of organizations raise more money for a better world — few have ever heard of him. His name isn’t on the books. (He authored one of the books, Fundraising Realities Every Board Member Must Face, but under a pseudonym.)

The main group of people who know about him and admire what he did are Emerson and Church authors. That’s not very many people!

And that’s exactly how Jerry wanted it. He wanted to change the world by enabling others with high-quality books on fundraising. He didn’t need fame and credit.

If you are a fundraiser, you also live in the background, like Jerry. No matter how successful, resourceful, smart, and innovative you are, donors and the rest of the world have no idea who you are. People know about the leaders and frontline workers of your organizations.

But not you.

You are a “secret hero” behind the heroes.

Those heroes are amazing. But they’re going nowhere without the work you do, securing the funding they need to do their work of repairing the world. You know that if you thrust yourself forward to grab some of the glory and accolades you deserve, you’d be less effective in your fundraising.

And you are okay with that.

Being a secret hero feeds your heart and soul. (I hope you’re also making a decent living, too!)

Jerry Cianciolo’s life is an inspiration to all of us. He lives on in the form of dozens of groundbreaking books that are equipping professional and effective fundraising all over the world.

He’s the secret hero behind the secret heroes.


Comments

4 responses to “Jerry Cianciolo: the secret hero behind the secret heroes”

  1. Jeff–
    Thanks so much for this wonderful note about Jerry Cianciolo. His contributions were numerous not least of which was to make all his authors even better writers than they already were.
    Nonprofits benefitted greatly from the wonderful, slender volumes which he produced. More money was generously provided to those organizations whose staff and leadership had the great good fortune to read, understand, and implement the exemplary ideas which he brought to light.
    I appreciate what you do and have done…particularly for remembering our friend, Jerry.
    Best–d

  2. Jeff–
    Thanks so much for this wonderful note about Jerry Cianciolo. His contributions were numerous not least of which was to make all his authors even better writers than they already were.
    Nonprofits benefitted greatly from the wonderful, slender volumes which he produced. More money was generously provided to those organizations whose staff and leadership had the great good fortune to read, understand, and implement the exemplary ideas which he brought to light.
    I appreciate what you do and have done…particularly for remembering our friend, Jerry.
    Best–d

  3. Kathleen Brennan Avatar
    Kathleen Brennan

    Jeff, thank you for this. He was my hero, too.

  4. Kathleen Brennan Avatar
    Kathleen Brennan

    Jeff, thank you for this. He was my hero, too.

Leave a Reply

What this blog is about

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.

Blog policies

Subscribe

Get new posts by email:

About the blogger

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.


Archives

Blogroll

Categories


Search the blog

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.

Recent Comments

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.

Blog Roll

someone’s blog