Tributes paid after 'one of the greatest figures in fundraising' dies aged 72

Simone Joyaux died over the weekend after suffering a stroke

Simone Joyaux
Simone Joyaux

Tributes have been paid to Simone Joyaux, a US fundraiser and founding chair of the Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, who has died at the age of 72.

Fundraisers on both sides of the Atlantic paid tribute to Joyaux, describing her as a “campaigning fundraiser extraordinaire” and “one of the greatest figures in fundraising”.

She died on Sunday after suffering a stroke on Thursday caused by cerebral amyloid angiopathy.

Joyaux began her fundraising career in 1975, as executive director of a small non-profit in Lansing, Michigan, and for the past 34 years worked as a consultant specialising in fund development, strategic planning, and board development.

She founded Rhode Island's first statewide arts advocacy organisation and the social justice organisation the Women’s Fund of RI, and was the author of three books: Strategic Fund Development, Firing Lousy Board Members, and Keep Your Donors, which she co-authored with her husband, fellow fundraiser Tom Ahern.

Joyaux taught on the Master’s Program for Philanthropy and Development at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and in 2014 became the founding chair of the Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy at Plymouth University.

In 2019, she was named a distinguished fellow of the US-based Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Ian MacQuillin, director of the think tank Rogare, which grew out of the Plymouth Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, paid tribute to her in a blog, saying she “will be remembered as one of the greatest figures in fundraising”.

He described her as “an outstanding thinker” and “a passionate and committed person” who challenged people to “ask cage-rattling questions” and “wasn’t afraid of what the answers to those questions might be”.

The fundraising consultant Ken Burnett described her as a “campaigning fundraiser extraordinaire” and “hell-raiser”.

In a blog on the fundraising website Sofii, Burnett said Joyaux had been “fearless, gutsy, outspoken, vibrant, principled, integrity-laden, gritty, relentless, passionate, kind, clever, articulate, strident, tireless, indefatigable, irresistible, unstoppable… the adjectives go on and on, each more than well-earned.”

He said: “Simone was all these and more, a one-off, a true hero of the new age of responsible fundraising.”

In a post on LinkedIn, the fundraising consultant Daryl Upsall called Joyaux “one of the most amazing, inspiring, powerful forces of nature that I have ever come across in my many decades in the sector”.

“To many colleagues, and especially women, she was a true inspiration as to how and why to take a sledgehammer [to] any glass ceiling,” he wrote.

“We can only imagine that wherever Simone is now, she will already be angry and giving the leadership hell about their poor governance system. She is still kicking ass!”

The fundraising group The Resource Alliance tweeted: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the death of Simone Joyaux.

“Our community has lost one of its most thoughtful, inspiring, and provocative leaders. We send our love and condolences to Tom and the family, to Simone’s friends, and to the many people that will miss her.”

The US-based fundraiser Beth Ann Locke is collecting memories about Joyaux for a book of remembrances.

Those wishing to contribute can find more information here.

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