There are few people in the world that have had the impact on my life that John Haydon had.
It started on a rainy day in early 2010.
I was picking up my infant daughter from her first day at daycare. She was just months old, and I wondered if I was doing the right thing starting my own consulting business.
I had been laid off from my nonprofit development job just a few months earlier, and had no idea what I was doing. What was my future path?
I had followed John for awhile leading up to meeting him. I was a huge fan of the Nonprofit Facebook Guy (his old Facebook Page) and I had read Facebook Marketing for Dummies.
His image loomed large. He had thousands upon thousands of Twitter followers! Why would he ever speak to ME?
I had sent him an email earlier in the day, doing the dreaded “I have no idea what I’m doing but can I pick your brain” request. Thinking for sure that it would be ignored.
That night, just as I was picking up my daughter and getting back in the car, he called me.
Never being one to be able to hide my emotions, I started crying, overwhelmed by the emotion that working parents feel, and just grateful that he called me back.
John calmed me down. We talked for over an hour, about all things nonprofits, business, self-employment, parenting, and more.
He was an instant kindred spirit. His sense of humor, his humility, his generosity were infectious.
After that, we became fast friends. Meeting for coffee in Burlington (sort-of halfway between Cambridge and Beverly/Wenham) once a month if we could swing it.
We almost published a book together about online fundraising (but the publisher decided to go in a different direction).
At events and conferences, I observed the way that he talked with people when they were completely star struck. He put them at ease.
He put everyone at ease.
When he announced that he had an incredibly rare form of cancer in 2017, I honestly had no doubt in my mind that he would beat it. He was healthy, he was strong, he was determined. He had SO MUCH LEFT TO DO.
When he started the incredibly raw and intimate Facebook Group – for all of US, so that we could be in the know – I watched as he continued to deteriorate. I was there for his Planet Philanthropy keynote that he had to do via Skype because he couldn’t fly.
He still captivated the audience. His passion and his genuine love for humanity and the power of nonprofits to unite us shown through.
John’s last public speaking engagement on stage was at the Nonprofit Social Media Summit in Boston, and he did this despite suffering from exhaustion and severe discomfort. He was an absolutely integral part of planning that event with me, and talking me down off the ledge several times when I was overwhelmed and wanted to quit.
This photo is his favorite photo of us – I’m adjusting his mic. It takes two. Two friends. True friends, on a perfect day.
It sounds so cliche but I can’t accept that he’s gone. He was such a shining light for so many of us and touched so many lives.
These words can’t convey the loss and the hole that’s left behind when such a person dies way too early.
To continue spreading his ideas, I encourage everyone to purchase a copy of his book when it comes out in March, or copies, and share them with others who are struggling with fundraising and with making their way in this nonprofit sector of ours. He would love that!
John, you will be very, very missed.