3 reasons why I use curse words (but only one that matters)

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Greg Warner is CEO and Founder of MarketSmart, a revolutionary marketing software and services firm that helps nonprofits raise more for less. In 2012 Greg coined the phrase “Engagement Fundraising” to encapsulate his breakthrough fundraising formula for achieving extraordinary results. Using their own innovative strategies and technologies, MarketSmart helps fundraisers around the world zero in on the donors most ready to support their organizations and institutions with major and legacy gifts.

She told me others would say I was unprofessional.

I was asked to lead a roundtable discussion at a conference recently. So I did. And afterward one of the attendees approached me as I got a cup of coffee in the sponsorship expo room.

She said, “Greg, I really enjoyed your roundtable discussion but why on earth did you curse… twice? Don’t you worry that people will say you’re unprofessional?”


Here’s what I told her in response:

“I curse because I’m from New Jersey.”


She smiled a bit but she wasn’t buying it.

So I gave her another reason. “Cursing is good for the soul,” I said. Then I cited the new book Swearing is Good for you.


Intrigued, yes. But she gave me a look and I knew she wanted more— the real reason.

So finally I said it. “Look, I curse because I really want people in this sector to wake the f@#& up. That’s the reason, ok? There’s too much to be done. There’s too much at stake. If we don’t wake up, we’ll fail so many.”

I continued, “It’s time for a change. It’s time for fundraisers to stop doing it the way it’s always been done. It’s time they stopped asking and started engaging. When major donors understand the problem, how they can make an impact, how they can find meaning in their lives, and have been deeply involved, they will give and will even self-solicit. They won’t give just because they were asked to do so. That’s for sure!”


She was taken aback but smiling, so I went on.

“Look,” I said, “Curse words are like lightning bolts. They draw attention and make people more heedful. I’ve got to shake things up. Will some think I’m unprofessional? Sure. But I don’t care. It’s not about civility. It’s about making a difference, for the donors and the beneficiaries of their gifts. It’s about raising money for less. And, it’s about helping fundraisers be the people they always wanted to be. Make sense?”


I was finished with my rant. 

There was silence between us. Her eyes were welling up a bit.


She leaned over and gave me a hug saying, “I love what you’re doing. Keep cursing!” 


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