You Are Not a Unicorn (and you don’t want to be)

u·ni·corn: /yoona korn/


  1. a mythical animal typically represented as a horse with a single straight horn projecting from its forehead.
  2. something that is highly desirable but difficult to find or obtain.

There’s a lot of talk of unicorns in the nonprofit sector lately. Nonprofit professionals often refer to themselves and each other as Unicorns because they are doing something rare.

They are eschewing a higher paycheck; they have chosen to do good over being a corporate minion. They don’t work long extra hours for the money – they do it for a noble cause.

Unicorns are amazing.

  • Unicorns are Gentle (but Ferocious when challenged)
  • Unicorns are Strong and Powerful
  • Unicorns are Rare

Here’s something to consider:

Unicorns are not and were not ever REAL.

Casting yourself as a mythical, magical and rare creature is an insult to your abilities and strength as an individual. You are not a mythical creature. You do not need to rely on magical abilities to be unique and exceptional.

I argue this:

You are a rhinoceros.

Rhinoceroses are ‘perissodactls’, which means ‘odd toed ungulates’.  Horses are also members of this species. The word ‘rhinoceros’ means ‘nose-horn’. (a member of the same species as a horse and has a horn…unicorn?!)

Rhinoceros are amazing.

  • Rhinos are Gentle (but Ferocious when challenged)
  • Rhinos are Strong and Powerful
  • Rhinos are Rare
  • Rhinos are also
    • Tough
    • Stubborn
    • Fearless

And unlike a Unicorn, Rhinoceros are REAL.

You are not a Unicorn (and you don’t want to be). Embrace your Rhino self and charge ahead with changing the world as the strong, powerful, tough, fearless and REAL beast you are.

With affection from a fellow Rhinoceros,


Selfies – it’s a matter of survival

Last week I was the passenger in a car traveling on Highway 2 in Washington State. We were in Tumwater Canyon on a narrow, winding stretch of road between Stevens Pass and Leavenworth. It was icy and the river that runs alongside looked cold and unforgiving.

As we rounded a corner, I saw three middle-aged men standing on the river side pointing across the road and up the steep hill. I looked up, what could it be? There had to be something very interesting for them to stand in such a dangerous spot at the side of the road.

I didn’t see anything but trees and brush and snow.

As we passed them, I saw that one of them had his phone held up; in the hand that I thought had been pointing at something.

They were taking a selfie.

As a human species, we’ve always had a fascination with documenting our experiences with pictures – from cave paintings to the family vacation slide show, to social media posts.

I’ve spent a great deal of the last six months thinking, learning and acting on the impact of storytelling – from how it connects and drives us, as you can read about in this post; to its practical application in fundraising as I shared in my blog post here.

In the past, the sight of three grown men risking injury on the side of the road to take a smiling selfie with the river and snow behind them would have flabbergasted me. “WTF are they thinking?!” I would have said to myself.

This time, it really struck home that the selfie is  another tool we use in our need to tell stories. As a Gen-Xer with millennial and Gen-Z children, I used to get annoyed and shake my head with all the selfies (so many selfies).

However, after more thought, rather than admonish or judge the “young people” (and the middle aged men) who are taking selfies; we need to start understanding that this behavior is driven by a far more ancient and meaningful need – the need to tell our stories.

When we tell out stories, we learn, we teach, we grow and we share so that we belong. It’s survival folks.

So, take those selfies and feel confident in the knowledge that you are doing something you are wired to do to survive. Also, for the sake of survival, please don’t stand on the side of a dangerous stretch of highway when you do it.






Curated Content: Plan, Do, Check, Adjust

I’m excited to evaluate and curate these resources for you, because I know you’re busy making the world a better place.

This week’s theme: Plan, Do, Check, Adjust:

Plan: “The Goal is to amplify the things that work”

Do: “Execution centers on doing”

Check: “It’s not enough to remove the negative”

Forget New Year’s Resolutions and Conduct a ‘Past Year Review’ Instead

Adjust: “saying yes to everything is a quick road to mediocrity”

Understanding Speed and Velocity: Saying “NO” to the Non-Essential

That’s it for this week! Enjoy!

Blog Schedule


you just have to start

Welcome to Our Fundraising Plan blog!I’ll focus on storytelling (the secret sauce for nonprofits) and will provide as much background material as I can gather. I’ll also post an ongoing series on writing plans. I’m starting with the tools to write and execute on a fundraising plan, but expect more on strategic planning, business planning and whatever other kind of planning you would like to see covered (let me know). Thank you for making the world a better place, Aimee