Interviewed by RuffaloNL for the Fundraising Voices podcast March 2020, click to listen, or read on below!

H: Brian, host

M: Mazarine Treyz, Found & CEO of Wild Woman Fundraising


  • 2:00 – How did you get started in fundraising and why do you love it?
  • 3:26 – Why is it called Wild Woman Fundraising tho?
  • 6:08 – Why do we need to advocate for ourselves?
  • 8:43 – Why did I write Get the Job! And what’s inside?
  • 10:45 – 3 key phrases to use in salary negotiation
  • 13:16 – Should you name a number first?
  • 16:30 – COVID fundraising – will donors stop giving?
  • 17:28 – How to message right now
  • 23:57 – Big advice for advancing your career


B: Hey podcast listeners, this is Brian here at RNL. I just wanted to say that we really hope that you and those close to you are safe during this challenging time. A number of the podcasts that we’re releasing in the next couple of weeks were recorded prior to the national health crisis, so I just wanted to let you know that. In some cases, the crisis was unfolding while we were recording with our guests and we’ll mention that during the podcast. We are all in this together on this episode of fundraising voices from RNL.

M: I started while I’m in fundraising as a way for fundraisers to just have real conversations about what’s going on in their organizations and with them personally and have better work life balance. I also did eight online conferences and I’ve done masterclasses and I made 10 e-courses on fundraising, on careers for fundraising and on nonprofit leadership.

B: If you’ve done any reading of fundraising blogs, you’ve probably come across Wild Woman Fundraising. Mazarine Treyz has a lot to offer regarding advice for your career, advancing yourself along with your organization’s mission and the role of women in philanthropy, both as fundraisers and funders. I was so excited to get on the line with Mazarine and talk to her about everything from career advice to salary negotiations and how to advance yourself as a fundraiser.

B: (01:49). It’s Brian. I’m on the line here with Mazarine Treyz, somebody that I’ve wanted to meet for a long time. Mazarine, thanks for coming on the podcast today.

M: Thank you so much for having me. Brian, I’m really excited to chat with you.

B: (02:00) We’re recording this at a time that’s very stressful for everyone. And we’ll get into that a little bit in our pre-conversation here. We’ve already talked about that a bit, but let’s make sure that people know who you are. How did you become engaged in philanthropic work and why do you love this field?

How did you get started in fundraising and why do you love it?

M: Yeah. So here’s, here’s a tiny little story. I was working at The Economist in New York City and then I went on a meditation retreat for 10 days where I didn’t look at anybody, touch anybody or talk to anybody. From that I realized that I really wanted to help people. And I thought that since I’d gotten a D in bio and an F in chemistry, that I would never be a doctor like the rest of my family. So I had to figure out another way to do it. So then I lived in Indonesia. I worked in a baby orphanage and also in some mobile health clinics in Jakarta’s poorest slums.

M: I wrote my first grant for an autoclave, which is an instrument sterilizer. And then I came back to the U S and I started learning about fundraising. And so then I co-founded a nonprofit. I started working in progressively more responsible fundraising roles. I realized that I could help people with my writing, and I could get paid for it. And I thought this is the best. I love doing this! I love working with people and talking with people and hopefully doing something that’s more meaningful than the average job, you know. I’ve worked in full time fundraising since 2001 so almost 20 years.

B: (03:26). Okay. A lot of people know you for Wild Woman Fundraising and the stuff that you put out is absolutely fabulous. I get your emails and take a look at your website all the time. What is Wild Woman Fundraising and what are you hoping to provide (to) fundraisers and people who are doing the daily work of engaging donors?

Why is it called Wild Woman Fundraising tho?

M: The reason I called it Wild Woman Fundraising is because I believe it as fundraisers need to speak our truth, even if our voice shakes. And a really good fundraiser is going to be that person that says, “no, I’m not going to raise you a million dollars in a month”. “No, we can’t get Oprah to come to our event. No. your expectations of me to fill the hole in the budget are unrealistic”. And so that’s what wild means to me. And I started Wild Woman Fundraising as a way for fundraisers to just have real conversations about what’s going on in their organizations and with them personally and have better work life balance. I also, you know, did eight online conferences and I’ve done masterclasses and I’ve made 10 e-courses on fundraising, on careers for fundraising, and on nonprofit leadership.

M: So those are the kind of the three main categories I play in. And now more than ever, I’m really wanting to offer my resources to everybody at foundations was looking to help support their grantees as well as individuals. I have a program called fundraising mastermind elite that allows people to get all of these resources because you need training now if you’re staying home. Just get more training. That’s what I say for crisis communications or whatever. This is this is really important to me to get this word out about that. And I also have 119 CFRE credits for these, so if you want some of those, you can have that too.

B: (4:59). Oh, absolutely. I view getting my CFRE as a major accomplishment. It was a challenge and anyone who knows me knows I’m a big advocate for it as well, too. Getting quality education is a big part of that. You didn’t spend too much time on it yet, but it is Wild Woman Fundraising. And I’m mindful that about 70% of new CFRE recipients are women and about 70% of AFP members, depending on what data you look at are women as well too. But the environment for women in fundraising is not perfect these days. What are your feelings about that and what is the environment for women in fundraising as you see it?
How has the fundraising field changed, why is it dominated by women now?

M: Well, believe it or not, fundraising used to be a field that was dominated by men and then it shifted as it became more of a pink collar situation. I’ve researched this for people who wanted more responsibility than corporate jobs were willing to give them, they could find that in nonprofits and in charity work. Because primarily women start to do it the wages fell.

B: (06:08) You’re saying that because people were blocked from C suite level positions in corporations, there’s an indication that the ability to take charge was provided in nonprofits. And that’s why we saw to some degree in increase in women joining the philanthropic field?

Why we need to advocate for ourselves (hint: SEXISM)

M: Very much so. And now we have majority women. Yes, I can show you the research on that. But yeah, I looked at that and I said, okay, well, you know, if it’s 70-80 percent women in the fundraising field as well as in the nonprofit world because we also have a lot of program staff that are women that get way less than we do. We need to start advocating for ourselves. And then the straw that broke the camel’s back for me was when I talked with a person who worked at the economic development agency in Portland, Oregon where I live. I talked to him about, “why don’t you focus more on nonprofits?” (because) nonprofits do so much for our communities. They are such a resource. And he was in charge of tech and wearables. We have Intel here, we have Nike here, we have Adidas here. He was in charge of like managing those relationships and giving them tax breaks and things like that. And I said to him, “why don’t you focus on nonprofits?”, and he said, “because they bring the median income of the region down”.

B: Hmm. Really?

M: Yes. And that was when I was like, first of all screw you buddy. Second of all, oh no, we are really hurting ourselves by asking our female fundraisers specifically to work for so little. And of course, men get underpaid as well and I don’t want to minimize that. But that’s when I started becoming really passionate about getting an online fundraising career conference going. We served over 1200 people. And then of course I had my book that came out in 2013 Get the Job Your Fundraising Career Empowerment Guide. I’ve done ongoing work with people one-on-one on the resumes, cover letters, interview skills, salary negotiation and I feel extremely passionate about income inequality.

M: We’re the lowest paid sector of all sectors. So that’s one of the ways that we can kind of, I hope on a self-actualization level, tip the scales a little bit. But then I also started the nonprofit leadership summit because I wanted to teach leaders, this is what happens every time a good fundraiser leaves you lose over 117% of their salary. Like Penelope Burk’s donors that our leadership has the research on this. I have a blog post on this. On top of that we have the Me Too thing, which I think maybe you’re referring to that. And that’s a whole other thing, right?

B (8:43). I’m referring to the fact that something that I’ve noticed is that I’ve had situations even on the podcast where the people that are reaching out to me, the people that are out there that are the most read bloggers, I’m seeing as good stuff being put out by men and women. But men are dominating the public phase of the fundraising, persona world. At one point I said I’m not going to publish any more podcasts until I do five women in a row.

M: Good!

B: Some of you may notice just happened on the podcast. Women control a ton of wealth in the United States, live longer than men, make better decisions, (are) more collaborative. We know all this stuff, and it’s just a miss when people are not paying attention to the power of women in the philanthropic space. I love what you’ve done. Now your book, Get the Job Your Fundraising Career Empowerment Guide is popular. Why did you write it and what fundraisers find inside?

Why did I write Get the Job! Your Fundraising Career Empowerment Guide, and what’s inside?

M: I wrote it because I was angry. I was so angry and it was really a prime motivating force for the first five years of my business. I’ve been in business for 10 years now. And I was angry that I just kept seeing people being dragged through the street by their organizations. And so I was writing a bunch of blog posts about it and I kept writing and I kept interviewing people and I kept writing and I started researching and I thought, “I want to make a book about this because I can’t stop talking about it”. And I’m really glad I did. People have told me that it’s helped them get raises. It’s helped them get interviews for jobs they never could have gotten near before. It’s helped them ramp up their LinkedIn profiles. I mean, obviously I would have different recommendations now. It was 2013 then. It’s a different world than LinkedIn now. But it’s been wonderful to see how it’s helped others. One guy came up to me at a conference in 2018 and he said, “that book came to me at the exact right time”. Even though I’m called Wild Woman Fundraising, I want to be inclusive of all genders. I hope you understand that.

B: (10:45). Well. Absolutely. What do you think is the deal right now with salaries and fundraising? There’s been research put out, certainly those of you who are tuned into this topic have read about the differences between men and women in salary negotiations, but also just this concept of salary and being paid in the nonprofit space. What do you think the landscape is right now? This is a little bit weird because we’ve got some weird economic indicators just this week with everything that’s going on with the global health crisis. What recommendations would you have for people as they were thinking about taking maybe a senior position and doing that salary negotiation?

3 key phrases to use on salary negotiation

M: Oh my gosh. Well I don’t want to drop all the candy in the lobby. But I certainly will give you a couple of key phrases to use during salary negotiation, whether it’s renegotiating a raise or negotiating when you’re first starting to get the job. So I can give you those. But before I do that, I just want to make clear as well that the US is eventually going to be over 50% people who are from the non-dominant culture. We are not thinking about how to step up our engagement and recruitment and pay of people currently inside of organizations who are people of color from the non-dominant culture. And I feel like we ignore this at our peril, and we will become irrelevant and basically die unless we look at how other people from non-dominant cultures fundraise and how they want to engage with us and hiring fundraisers from those cultures.

M: And paying them well. Anyway, that’s a separate thing. I will get back to it. So anyway, yes, back to back to salary. So salary, here’s some key phrases for you. I was coaching women yesterday on this and so I said, so pitch me and she said, I want $200,000. And I said, okay, back up. You just lost because you named a number first. So you have to have lots of key phrases. When they press you for a number, you have to be able to press back. And if it’s a form on a website, put in NA, put in zero zero zero so that they don’t have a number from you. What you can say is, “I would prefer not to reveal that”. If they ask you what your number is, you can say, “It’s really hard for me to know the exact number without knowing more about the possibilities for advancement and the benefits package. And so I can’t tell you right now”. So, you can just keep pushing back. I have so many phrases for you.

B: (13:16) So, you agree with the idea that when you’re in a salary negotiation (I love this debate) that you should not as the candidate be the one providing a number? I believe that too, but is that what you’re saying?

Should you name a number first?

M: DO NOT name a number first. And if you go to simplyhired.com you can see the range, they have to put in a range. So if it’s not listed there, that’s a problem. But a lot of job boards now such as mac’s list and others are requiring people to put in the range.

B: Well, right because you don’t want to go down, particularly for a senior position, you don’t want to be going down that path if there’s just no chance. That you’re not even in the world of numbers. Right. When I’ve worked with search firms before I’ve gone to the onsite interview, I’ve said, “Hey, just before we do this, can we just have this conversation? because I would hate to waste your time”. But I also think it’s very interesting when that conversation comes up because it’s this sort of weird game of chicken. I will sometimes say something like, “I want to have this conversation with you, but can I ask, how much does the amount that you’re going to pay this person weigh into your decision of who you’re going to choose?”. And then just shut up and wait to see what the response is. Because I think it can be very telling about the priorities of the organization. Is it going to be this intense ROI focus? Is there a short term or long term or just an exigency model in place in terms of their psychology? I think the salary negotiation can also be really telling in terms of what your life will be as a senior leader at that organization.

M: Yeah, if they’re not willing to invest in you, they’re not willing to invest in your program, ultimately, they’re setting you up for failure. Penelope Burke’s research shows that, turnover three years running means over $600,000 lost in the organization, not including donor relationships and funder relationships. Right? So that’s just retraining, rehiring, getting someone’s vacation paid out, all of that other staff time to be with you to help you learn how to message. That constant turnover has serious economic impact, which we do not look at.

M: And then if you keep your good fundraiser, it can be a $500,000 benefit over the course of the life of the person if they stay there for three years. That’s another number that she also has. So, you need to make sure that you’re resourcing this. And if you say, like some people did in my fundraising salary negotiation presentation in Texas earlier this year for AFP chapter, there are a couple EDS there. And they were just saying, “Hey, we can’t afford to pay people more” or, “we just don’t negotiate here”. And I said, “okay, have them work three days a week”, you know, and if somebody lowballs you and says, “Hey, we’d like you to work for $50,000, you can say, is that for three days a week?”.

B: Absolutely. Yeah. I like what you said about looking at things other than just what that person immediately provides. So thinking about what the opportunity cost of having somebody leave early is, or what the incredible value of having somebody become quite well known in your organization is. And I think there’s a lot there. I think it’s the stability of the organization that’s probably going to lead to the highest level of donor investment. I’m not saying that fundraisers aren’t important because they clearly are I’ve been one for a long time.

B: (16:30) I do think that keeping particularly senior donor and client-facing people with stability is a good indication that your organization is worth an investment and it can be, you know, a 10X 20X ROI of just keeping people. So I think that’s absolutely crucial. Well we are sitting here in the midst of a significant world health crisis and there’s been a lot of discussion over the last 10 days or so as we’re recording this about what the impact of fundraising is. You mentioned teaching and online conferences. We’ve already seen a number of our professional conferences go in that direction. What do you think this health crisis is going to mean for fundraising? I mean, maybe it’d start with, when something like this happens to donors, stop giving.

COVID-19 Fundraising – will people stop giving?

M: No, I just got in touch with a client this morning and they sent out an email over on Saturday saying we are going to close down our feeding of the homeless because of COVID-19 and they just raised $6,000.

B: (17:28). So that allowed them to just keep their operations going because even though people maybe can’t get toilet paper this morning, I was searching for eggs. They’re still willing to give because they’re concerned about the homeless.

How to Message Right Now

M: Yes. It’s an opportunity for messaging and so I’m very happy. Messaging and writing are my strengths as a coach and as a consultant. So, I’m very happy to meet with anybody who wants to talk about that. And we can talk about how to make your communications calendars, different stories of how this is affecting different people, the people that you serve, the staff, the volunteers, the board members. How you’re thinking about long term ramifications of this and what you’re planning on doing. I talked with an executive director this morning who leads a music nonprofit in New York City for example.

M: She saw a person on Friday lose all of their gigs. A musician lose all their gigs in 20 minutes. She just watched the notifications pop up on their phone and she’s like, “this is just horrifying”. And of course, they should stay home, but now that’s an opportunity for live streaming events from their iPhones and putting it on Instagram or putting it on Facebook or YouTube. So there’s ways to message and deal with this so that people can stay safe and still have fun and still show that the organization is doing what you want them to do. That’s another reason to make a plan for this.

B: (19:08). Well, absolutely. And what one fundraiser said to me is that this was really going to test our digital readiness. So, like you said, with streaming maybe even virtual donor meetings. I had wondered for a long time as a gift officer why I didn’t do that more. Now, maybe when I was a gift officer a little while back, so maybe the technology wasn’t quite there yet. But I was an arts fundraiser and I wonder why I didn’t more often bring donors into the experience through video and streaming a little bit more often. I think it could have been really helpful. I just think at a time like this, it causes us to say, “hey, how can we provide the same level of connection and joy of giving without being in person and passing germs?”. Right? It’s a puzzle. I think it’s something we have to think about.

B: (19:53) Let me ask about that for a second. So, if we think about the fact that we’re going to be doing things less in person, at least in the short term here, events are going to change or maybe get cancelled or pushed. What do you think this means for the future of fundraising? What do you think we’re going to be doing differently in a couple of years here?
The Future of Fundraising for the next 24 months

M: That’s a really good question. I’ve been talking with people that have been tracking how this virus is affecting people’s spreading and mutating, and if people don’t already know this you can be asymptomatic after being exposed to the virus but still be spreading the virus particles up to 20 days after you were exposed to it. And also it’s mutating. So even if they develop a vaccine, it may be that there will be other strains. And then on top of that, if you get re-exposed over and over again a little exposure, you can make a whole new strain inside of yourself. These are some things that I’ve been hearing. And obviously perfectly healthy people have had to go to the hospital and get on respirators, which is bad.

M: So yes, I think that nothing will ever be the same and we are going to have to be prepared for this. One of the benefits I see of this is that we’re going to have a lot more people working from home. We’re going to have online donor meetings becoming the norm. We’re going to have virtual events more. And I think for conferences, that’s going to be super fun and it’s going to allow us to take advantage of every session we wanted to see, not just the ones that we could make it to. I also think it’s going to lead us to being more on track with environmental summit guidelines for how we need to be reducing CO2 emissions. We’ll they’ll be less driving, they’ll be flying less. The highest outcome for me is that maybe we’re going to be able to save the planet faster.

M: But I know for a lot of us we’re going to lose our jobs. We’re going to not have the option of staying home. And that’s very scary. And for people who are homebound, people who also need that social time that they’re getting at a senior center. They’re not getting it right now. Ways to start making programs for elders that can be more tech based can be helpful. The UN declared the internet as a human right, years ago, and we still don’t have free internet or internet in everybody’s home. For our most vulnerable populations, that’s something that is going to have to change in the next couple of years to have it (so that) you can talk to your grandkids on the computer, here’s how I will show you. The social isolation that comes with being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and not having family you can talk with you know, how do you deal with that?

M: That’s something that pride festivals around the country will want to look at. How can we create online gathering spaces to support and encourage each other? There will be a lot more of that. Messaging and online communications like letters, phone calls, emails are going to be more important than ever (along with) people’s websites. I’m hoping that I’ll see nonprofits invest in staff and training for appeal letters and reports, e-newsletters. Just strategy messaging. Somebody who also has really good trainings around this aside from me is Kivi Leroux Miller. She has a whole membership site around that as well. So, you know, choose whoever you want, but you’re going to have to start focusing a lot more on communication and retention and a lot less on events. Which honestly, I’ve wanted nonprofits to do for years anyway because events are the least effective way to raise money. They really are.

B: Absolutely. I think there’s a time and place for them celebrating the start or the end of a big effort. And there’s certainly a social aspect to it, but in a time like this, the idea that because you can’t have an event, you can’t raise money is dead wrong. There’s plenty of good ways to do it.

B: (23:57) Besides going to Wild Woman Fundraising, what are your parting suggestions to people as they think about advancing their career and moving forward in the philanthropic space? Based on what’s going on now or just in general, what’s the big advice you have for them?

Big Advice for Advancing Your Career

M: For advancing their career?

B: Yes.

M: I have so much to say. It’s like trying to put an elephant down the plug hole. So you realize I had four conferences about this and I had 12 speakers at each conference. I have all those recordings for people if they want that, and a book and all these blog posts. I’d say first of all, go to wildwomanfundraising.com. Go to the bottom of the page and check out the plethora of career posts that I have on my one page. I’ve put them all together for you. That’s a wonderful place to start. If you want some videos on how to edit your resume and cover letter, I have those there as well.

M: They’re also on YouTube. And when you are going in for an interview in the next few weeks, months or even the next year, emphasize how this moment is when they should be investing in fundraising, investing in you and your previous successes in the world of donor relations, communications, stewardship, and your innovations that you’ve done, the experiments that you’ve tried because we’re all going to be trying different things. And they need somebody who is an innovator, not somebody who’s just ready to keep doing business as usual.

B: We’re entering a tough time for fundraisers and the philanthropic landscape, investing in yourself and getting the perspective support and education you need to move forward personally during this time will be absolutely crucial. We’ll put Mazarine’s website and a link to her book in the podcast note for you to check out. We also have a ton of resources, events, and conferences that are now participates in all available at ruffalonl.com. Be sure to check them out today and let us know what you think.