Mazarine Treyz: Founder of Wild Woman Fundraising

Fundraising is changing. COVID-19 has made it clear that the old way of operating wasn’t always working, and we need to do better in the future. Consultant, author, and coach Mazarine Treyz joined the podcast to discuss fundraising, and we can improve as nonprofit professionals post COVID. 

Nonprofits need to acknowledge and act on areas that need improvement with pressing issues unveiled by the pandemic and the Black Lives Movement. Reflecting on the industry, Mazarine walks us through what we can do to support our fellow fundraisers and other nonprofit workers. She highlights the crucial need to provide the tools for success, like a powerful donor management software, to help fundraisers make better-informed decisions. Additionally, in a world where fundraising can be increasingly difficult, we need to remember to reward our successes and keep our passion ignited. 

We may not know what happens next, but by listening and reacting to the world issues, fundraisers can create thoughtful and impactful calls to action that create change. For more advice on fundraising through the pandemic, listen to our full interview or read the transcript below.

Official Transcript

Hello and welcome to the Fundraising Superheroes podcast. A podcast celebrating non for profit organizations and all the people that work to make the world a better place. As always, I'm your host, Sabrina Sciscente, and the show is brought to you by Donor Engine. An all-in-one nonprofit management software built to help you manage your volunteers, team and donor data. Visit to learn more. 

So let's talk about a huge part of any nonprofit organization, fundraising, you need it to operate and it's at the core of any nonprofit organization. Since we've been hit with this pandemic, it's become a stressful topic for some, you know people are losing their jobs and as we've discussed in our previous episodes, we don't really know what's going to happen next. Today, Mazarine Treyz is joining us to navigate through the world of fundraising and see how we can do better. Post COVID-19. Mazarine is a coach, speaker and, bestselling author of The Wild  Woman's Guide to Fundraising, serving people in over 70 different countries.

She's worked with government, nonprofits and individuals supporting people to bring their full selves to work. Through her writing, training, podcasts and keynote speeches Mazarine leads the nonprofit workplace justice movement to create a better nonprofit work culture. Her website is linked in the description. There are so many great resources there. So thank you so much, Mazarine, for joining us.

Thank you for having me, Sabrina.

So can you start off by letting us know how you decided on the name Wild Woman Fundraising?

Yeah, yeah. So I believe that in nonprofits you should speak your truth, even if your voice shakes. And for me, that's what being truly wild means, is basically having unpopular opinions and trying to focus on the justice that should be inherent inside all of nonprofit organizations. And we say we want to make a better world, but we have to look at how are we treating our people. So for me, what I was seeing when I was working full time in the sector I've been consulting for 10 years now was a lack of respect and money for nonprofit workers.

That is also highlighted pretty well by the research that the Ontario nonprofit network does and their decent work for women research that they've done. They had listening groups all over Canada, and I highly recommend anybody who's listening to this podcast recording to check out their important work, because what they're doing now is helping nonprofit workers not only get higher wages, but also get a pension. They're like legislating that in Ontario, which is really exciting.

Yeah, I love that you brought that up because I did an interview with the Executive Director from Cause Canada, and she mentioned, she's like you know, a lot of people expect nonprofit workers to go above and beyond because they're helping a cause, but they're still people, and they still have limits, and they still deserve good wages and pay and support. So hopefully in the future we see more of that being advocated in the industry.

Yeah, well, I think Canada's leading the way. I wish I lived in Canada.

Sustainable fundraising is a topic that has been on a lot of people's minds lately and you are a true professional when it comes to fundraising. So especially with the pandemic hitting a lot of organizations hard. What are small steps that organizations can take in their day to day to help with their funding?

Yeah, that's a really good question, because for a lot of us, we're afraid to ask right now, priorities of funders have shifted. And in the U.S. at least, I can't speak for Canada, but in the U.S., we also have massive unrest and uprisings for the Black Lives Matter movement. So it's the biggest protest movement in history and that is making a lot of funders as well, sort of like redirect their funds towards black led organizations. And I'm actually very, very happy that's happening.

So for nonprofits that are considering, how can they look more attractive to funders? I would tell them, have more black people on your board, have more black people in leadership, you know, start to address some deeper structural inequities that come from the three pillars of white supremacy, which are first acknowledged what they are. One is Orientalism and war. Another one is sort of capitalism slash slavery, another one is colonialism and capitalism. Right.

So, like all three of those really are what underlies not just our systems of government, but our systems inside our non-profits and then inside our own heads. And so when we think about what we value in the sector, our values are really coming out now and organizations that are going to get more money are going to prove themselves relevant. Now, if they address Black Lives Matter in a structural way, not just window dressing as well as what they're doing for COVID.

So this is a tremendous opportunity for organizations that, let's say you help homeless people get jobs. You could have a new training program to help homeless people make PPE devices. You could also say we are going to, you know, continue to have monthly structural bias trainings, as well as have a consultant come in to advise us about how to make a truly more liberatory framework for our organization. And I think that would speak to a lot of your donors.

And if your donors don't want to hear that, well, they're not on the right side of history. If you want to stay relevant in this historic time, in this historic moment, you have to think about keeping your people safe as well as the structure for liberation and justice. So I think those two things will help you in the future. But, you know, furthermore, you're not going to get back to business as usual, except that right now Business as normal wasn't working.

And so if you find yourself longingly thinking of back when things were normal, we don't know when there's going to be a vaccine, and we don't know how long it is going to last. Nobody knows because of lack of leadership the US has, you know, so I would say it's much better to just assume that this is normal now and that you're ready to if you have like a thrift store, maybe you have to close it down. 

If you want to think about funding more sustainably, which is your original question, you want to communicate your values in each communication that you give to your donors and consider having a much more robust monthly giving program because monthly giving is unrestricted funds that will just last forever and the monthly donors just make it a habit to give to you. I'm a monthly donor for a nonprofit called Hope Inc in Atlanta, Georgia, and they solicited me via text message. And I start giving them ten dollars a month and I'm giving them fifty dollars a month because it's not just a habit, it's part of who I am.

You know, they help single parents finish college. And I also know their executive director and founder personally. That's just one example of, you know, somebody who's not a boomer, who still thinks that they have discretionary funds to do the right thing, you know.

Yeah, a lot of people now I'm seeing social media as the biggest place that I'm seeing this activism. But then for a lot of people stops there. So I love that you brought up that point of we need to have more people of colour, not only being included in these conversations, but leading these conversations of being part of our board, being part of our executive teams, because white people like as much as we fight it everyone has a cognitive bias. So we need the people who are part of the group that we want to include in the room. We need them leading those conversations. 

So fundraising as a whole is such a broad term. There are monthly donation programs like you mentioned, how you give to Hope, grants, sponsorships, peer-to-peer, fundraising list goes on. It's endless. It could be daunting for organizations, newer organizations especially, to decide what works best. So how can nonprofits begin to navigate through it all?

You know, as I said in my previous question, the monthly giving is the way to go because that leads you to major gifts. And I highly recommend that every nonprofit that is thinking about sustainable fundraising in the short and long term invest in their major gifts program, invest in a monthly giving program. And don't depend on grants or government contracts to see you through. Because as we've seen, those priorities are shifting and people may not see you as relevant to the current urgent needs.

Disaster fundraising is becoming a lot more of the norm because we're seeing increasing disasters. And so urgency is the key to a lot of what we're seeing right now. So I fundraise through the last downturn in the U.S, which was 2008 nine. And that was my last fundraising job. And what happened with that was we were asked to solicit, we were asked to get, you know, proposals to foundations. Then it was time to give the grants out, the foundation said, well, we've shifted our funding.

We can't give you money for tuition, sorry for scholarships for kids because those kids have to eat and that's more important. And so if we don't give this money to this organization, kids are going to go hungry. And I said, I completely understand how you made that choice. Like, there's obviously more important things, like a hierarchy of needs here to make sure that the kids are getting their needs met. So that's just something I learned from the last downturn.

I think something we can remember for this one, but this one is a lot bigger and deeper. This is already a depression, it's not just a downturn. And so if that's the case, then looking at your earned income streams as well and seeing what you can do to maybe offer something that your nonprofits like you need to function would be a wise decision.

So, for example, there is an organization here in Portland, Oregon, where I live called the Central City Concern. And what they do is they help homeless people get jobs, cleaning office buildings, and they also do other things. But one of the things that they started to do and were very successful at was making bedbug free bed frames for homeless shelters. Other homeless shelters. And they're basically like a bed frame that has a bunch of holes in it so that there's nowhere for the bedbugs to hide.

And if you can imagine, you know, one of the biggest problems of homeless shelters have is that, you know, people are coming in and unfortunately, they found a mattress that they sleep on somewhere that had bedbugs in it, and then they brought bedbugs into the shelters. So that's something that, you know, they saw need, and they started to address that need, and then they started to sell it to others. Another example of this is with technology, is with the Meals on Wheels chapter and I think they're in Texas. 

What they do is they take three different pieces of software, and they got a donor to give them a million dollars to do this. They did it on the condition that they would sell this to other Meals on Wheels programs, and there's like hundreds and hundreds of them all over the country. In case you don't know what Meals on Wheels do they help housebound people get nutritious meals. 

So I'm sitting at their conference and the way that this works is I interviewed somebody who's working on this. They took what's called- the USPS has this thing where the Postal Service where you can like chart their route via an app so it's like the least amount of gas to go to all the different places.

And then they took that, and they put that together with other software to make like it checked in with the hospital so that if they find somebody who's had a stroke or a heart attack as they deliver the meal, which is extremely common, you would not believe how common this is. They can instantly alert the hospital, get somebody on the way, and then it also connects back to their home database to like make sure that they don't give meals to this person in the future until they're home from the hospital because there's no point in leaving meals for somebody that isn't there.

So all of that leads to like, less waste, more efficiency and it's a replicable thing that could help save lots of money for lots of different organizations around the country. So that's another example of that. 

That's really cool. I've never heard of anything like that, so it's really interesting. 

We were talking about one more thing before we started, and I wonder if we should talk about it now, about innovations that are happening with fundraising because people can't do events anymore.

You know, as I said, like the highest rate of return is major gifts, and then the second probably is monthly giving. But one of the things people are asking me is what do I do with my event? What do I do with my event? And I'm like, you could do an online conference. No problem, I've done like tons of those. But another thing you could do is try Twitch fundraising and I hope that we'll link that interview at the bottom of this interview as well. But Twitch TV is something that a lot of people are doing because there's not a lot of sporting events. Right. I mean, there's we're coming back slowly. 

So that's one thing people can do is to look into Twitch. And if they want to learn more about that, like you're going to maybe interview somebody. But if you don't, they could check out my interview with her and it's Aly Sweetman, who's the Twitch charity manager.
For those who haven't heard of Nazarene's podcast, the interview she did with Aly Sweetman is a great listen. I learned a lot about Twitch that I didn't know. And it kind of makes me wonder how many other digital fundraising opportunities that are out there that people are taking advantage of or don't even know about it.

Seriously and like you could, you know, just hang out with a gamer. She calls it influencer fundraising and then say, hey, would you like to do a day of giving to my nonprofit? And then, like, all their followers will give you like a dollar. But if they have, like, thousands of followers, that really adds up. 

Even TikTok, right now, they have stickers that you can add to donate to charities. 

Oh, no way!

There's a whole section on their website called TikTok for charity, and we work with a lot of charities to create campaigns, hashtags. And you can actually fill out a form and contact them. I don't know if they're taking like local charities in the sector. So if you're interested, it's definitely worth going to the website and looking into. 

So TikTok is one form of marketing. Digital marketing is all over right now, and as somebody who also works in marketing we always hear the term call to action constantly. It's everywhere. People are always reminding us to make sure that you're inviting our audience to get involved with our cause. Make a donation, sign up for a program, etc.. So how can we create thoughtful, impactful calls to action?

Oh, that's a good question.

You know, I'd have to say, like thoughtful calls to action really have to do with urgency and relevancy to the person that is receiving them.

And so the first thing that I would suggest that you do is survey your best donors, your most loyal donors, people who have given you more than a certain amount, like five hundred dollars over the course of last year. People who have given to you more than once and people who've given recently. So it's RFM: recency, frequency, monetary value. If you survey them, whether like an online survey or a phone survey or, you know, just like a quick little Zoom meeting with them, I think you'll find a lot of what drives people to give to you.

And then that can really help you craft your urgent call to action to folks. And I am going to put together an online conference called the Co-Creation and Giving Conference in September. I surveyed people heavily to find out what mattered to them before I put it together and what sessions they'd like to see now. You know what makes a good or bad online conference for them?  You can do that for your donors. You could ask them what makes a good or bad donor experience for you or if you're going to have an online conference as well, you can do what I did, you know?

Yeah, online conferencing has been one of the good things, I think, that has come into the pandemic because it makes learning so accessible. You literally just have to sign up, log in. It's been amazing.
Oh, it's wonderful. I mean, I've done online conferences for four years now, so it'll be my fifth year and I've done like eight of them. And it's really like it's so much better for the environment.

You know, like it's like it just it makes logical sense that we're going to keep doing this. And if that's the case, then a smart non-profit will consider like, how do I try to create the best possible experience for people? Like, if I have to keep doing this and it's safe to assume that you're going to have to keep doing this. 

Yeah, I love that. Everyone right now is having this mentality of why not?

Why can't we do that? And  I hope it continues because I was like, why would I pay all this money to go to an in-person conference just to sit and watch person talk when I'm doing the same thing from my home on a Zoom call? They're reaching a broader audience. Maybe they're reaching people who couldn't afford or didn't have the accessibility to make it to that conference. 

And accessibility is the key word here, because in my online conferences, I've had people come who are partially sighted. And, so I've had to really think about, like, how do I make my slides as accessible as possible? How do I make my speakers accessible as possible? Now, with online conferencing technology advances, we can have online networking for folks, and we can have closed caption for folks. And that's huge for people who have hearing issues. In a regular conference, you'd have to do so much more work to make that happen. 

Exactly. So you were recently on another podcast called The Face to Face podcast, with David Peck and it's a great lesson for listeners that will also be linked in the description box. You gave some great insight on how to approach fundraising during COVID. One of the things that really stuck with me out of that conversation was the point you made on organizations wasting 117 percent of a fundraiser salary when they leave and that they often leave their jobs after six to 12 months.

This turnover was something that I've never experienced. So how can nonprofit leaders do better to support their employees to prevent this turnover from happening? And what are some things that fundraisers should keep in mind when they feel they're being unappreciated in their position?
So it's actually one hundred and seventeen percent of the salary, but that's only if you think about the calculable costs, like accrued vacation time retraining someone else in the position and in the U.S average funder's or stays 12 to 18 months. And in Canada, according to a recruiter, I know it's 6 to 12 months. So whether you're listening to this in the U.S or Canada, that's something to consider that good fundraisers are in such high demand in Canada.

My recruiter friend actually told me they're importing them from the U.S. So, like, a lot of people want to do this in the U.S. and there're no jobs that don't pay very much in Canada. I think the jobs pay a little better, though. There is that exchange rate thing which, you know, you can't do much about. But it's something that is a problem both in the U.S. and Canada, which is that fundraiser's get basically dragged through the street. They get chewed up and spit out by the organization.

And it's often because organizations don't realize how they can best support the fundraiser or what the structures are in place that are preventing them from being successful. So if you're a nonprofit leader asking yourself, wringing your hands, why don't we have fundraisers who want to stay? I can tell you why. Here's what you do to drive them away. And here's what you can't do differently.
So how you drive them away is you don't give them a budget for a good database. You don't give them incentives to raise more money. Usually what happens is if they raise a lot of money on a shoestring. Your reward to them is a hedonic treadmill, which is OK, great. You raise this money now, raise double that amount next year with zero extra budget to do that and no raise for you. And that's just a general thing that happens because of these systemic sort of like pink colour assumptions, which is that women will work for less and the fundraising field is roughly 75 to 80 percent women. 
So also women aren't taught to ask. They're taught that it's selfish to ask. And they also have these assumptions from Puritanism, which is how a lot of our countries were founded in North America, which is that money is evil and that people who work for charity shouldn't make money. As we said at the beginning, that's just bullshit, you know. So if you want to keep your good fundraisers, number one, sit them down and have this simple conversation, you say to them, where do you really want to be in five years and how can I help you get there?

That's the number one thing you say to them and then you support them to do that. If they say, I want to be the development director of a giant hospital system, you say awesome, I'm going to make sure that you get the training that you need. I want you know that I believe in you a hundred percent. I want you to know that I support your success here, and I will give you whatever it takes to make you successful here and make you look good for this next role that you really want.

And they're going to work harder for you than they've ever worked for anyone in their life, because I'll tell you this, no one has ever had that conversation with me. But I heard it at a career conference that I put together. I put together for online fundraising career conferences over 2014 to 2018. We had over 1200 people attend. And that was really powerful.

Just one thing. Another thing is obviously pay your fundraisers. Well, if you say I can't afford to pay them more than forty thousand dollars a year, let's say have them work part time, have them work 20 hours a week. They really deserve. Eighty thousand Canadian or U.S, to be quite honest with you. And another thing that you can do to help them succeed is make sure that you budget for a decent donor database and make sure they get trained on that database.

Because if you don't have information about who your donors are, how often they give, why they give, you know, the percentages of people who give this year versus last year, you're hamstringing your fundraiser from success. Another thing that you need to do is give them reasonable, measurable goals. And that's what a good donor database will do for you. And then if you're a fundraiser who feels like you're not getting the respect that you deserve in your position, I want you to know, I believe you.

I'm sure you're absolutely right. And I wrote a whole book to help you empower yourself in your career. It's called Get the Job: Your Fundraising Career Empowerment Guide. And you can find that on Amazon, you can find that on my website. I'd recommend getting the e-book because it's just less likely that it will get to you, you know, with germs on it. So get the e-book. I appreciate that if you do that. But I have like so much to say about that.

Like, I really I've literally written it over a thousand blog posts, this is not hyperbole. And most of those blog posts are about how you can get a better wage, get a better job and how you can manage up in your position as well if you're committed to staying. If you go to the bottom of my website,, there's a cornerstone content piece of 100 plus blog posts about your fundraising career and how you can rise.

There's also one about nonprofit management and leadership. And another one about appeal letters. Those are like three areas I've written a lot about and go to town. You don't have to buy my book, go to town or read those. You know what I mean? 

What I love about your resources. I had a chance to look over them on your website is that they apply to people beyond fundraising. You know, I'm not in specifically the fundraising sector, but I found a lot of what you say resonated with me, and especially as a young woman starting her career.

I love what you said about, you know, not being afraid to ask, because if you're doing a good job, why not ask for a raise? If you have evidence to show that you've made progress, you know, you deserve that acknowledgement, whether it's a pay raise, whether it's promotion, you know whether it's having those resources like a donor database or like a management software or like, you know, something that's going to help you do your job better.

Again, I hope this pandemic opens a lot of eyes and people rally for change, and we see more of that

And on top of that, if you want one phrase to help you make a better salary in your organization right now, you probably read this post already Sabrina, but I would say sit down with your manager and say what metrics would I have to hit in the next six months to justify you giving me a raise? And you can use this in any job. 

A lot of career advice. Again, if you guys are looking for more tips on how to do better within yourselves and with your jobs, you guys have to check those resources out before we go today.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you feel the COVID 19 pandemic will have a lasting impact on the future of fundraising. We talked a lot about change in the podcast, but if there's anything else you think needs to change moving forward.

Yeah, I think that it will behoove us as nonprofit leaders to hire people who are good at not just building offline community, but building online community. So ask in your job interviews for folks. Have you ever built online community before and how adept you feel at, you know, creating connection over the screen instead of in person? I think that's going to become a bigger and bigger thing that's going to become important for the sector. I feel like ongoing learning as people get new results from COVID 19 fundraising and find what works and doesn't work, it's going to be important.

So I think there should be a huge surge in online learning for, you know, people in college as well as people in nonprofit organizations. And I have 10 e-courses and a membership program on my website about how to do different aspects of fundraising online and offline, including crowdfunding. I feel like that's going to get way more important for people. I feel like all the offline ways that you've created community cannot be translated to online and you need to do something else.

So you're going to have to get creative. I recommend Edward de Bono's Six Thinking Hats exercise where you wear different colour hats metaphorically, and then you do what you do is you start to question your assumptions about things. So let's say that you're wearing the red hat. That's like the hat that's all about the feelings of how you feel about doing something. And then there's the blue hat, which is the hat that sort of like logically this is what should happen.

And the green hat that just like full of possibilities and then like the yellow hat, which is all like, I think this isn't going to work here's why, like the Negative Nancy hat, basically. Then there's the white hat that's like, OK, process oriented, let's stay on track. I forget what the other hat is. But essentially the thinking hats exercise is supposed to help you understand creative thinking models and where you are usually and how you can start to see other people's point of view as well.

So if there's somebody on your board that's always saying we can't do anything different, we have to fire our fundraiser, we have to knuckle down and try to weather the storm. Well, guess what? That person is just reacting out of fear. So we're really going to have to get more emotionally intelligent to be able to weather the storm of our emotions as we go through this pandemic. Because it is part of the trauma that's happening at a global level, not being able to see our friends and family as much.

And your donors are going through it, too, you know, so we can't expect people to be as, quote unquote, productive as they were before. And even that word productive is a word of capitalism, and it's a word that can be very oppressive. So instead, you know, we might have better luck inviting people to virtual retreats where we send them little gift bags full of bath salts and candles and sweet scents and maybe even a cookie or something just to, you know, get together and feel relaxed and invite people to breathe and help them process their feelings instead of hiding them, stuffing them away.

Take a second, you know, to understand who is arriving at this moment and how you can stop being so reactive, instead, be responsive to what's really here. So I think that's how we're going to get through this. But people that think they have to fire their fundraisers, I would highly encourage you not to do that. It's the worst time to change ship midstream. You need people who know what your causes and you need people to keep fundraising for you.

Exactly. And I think that's the perfect place to wrap up the podcast today. So thank you so much, Mazarine, for joining us. And to get in contact with Mazarine and access all the content she referenced in this podcast talks, resources. Visit her website at Like I said, everything will be linked in the description box. You can go there to find all the resources. She also has a podcast, the Name It podcast, where she has important conversations around how the non-profit industry can be and do better. The most recent episode features Gloria Coleman on succession planning as a way to tame the chaos during COVID 19. I listened to it, was a great listen link to that podcast is again in the discussion box.
As always, thank you so much for listening, and we'll see you next time on Fundraising Superheroes

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By on Jul 16, 2020, 12:00 AM


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