Are You Guilty of Self-Congratulations?

“What a great job we’ve done!”

In the wake of recent disasters, and with thousands left-behind by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria and the devastating earthquakes in Mexico, the president was criticized for boasting of the great work being done by his administration while so many were suffering. Whether or not you agree that the administration responded appropriately, using “great”, “incredible” and “amazing” when talking about the administration's response during this troubling time seems to lack sympathy and compassion.

I found myself cringing every time I heard it – not just because it lacks sympathy and compassion, but because I often read the same language in the newsletters, appeals, and even thank you notes from non-profit organizations across the country. Think about it.

Better yet, review the most recent communications your organization has sent to previous and potential donors. Do you boast of the great work you’re doing to address the problem driving your mission? How many times do you mention your organization and the word ‘we’? How much of the letter reminds donors of the mission statement, history, and services you provide?

On the flip side, how often do you refer to the donor? How many times is the word ‘you’ used? What portion of the communication shares the stories of those positively impacted by the work being done through the generosity of donors?

At the risk of sounding rude, and to borrow an old phrase, “It ain’t about you, stupid!”

From the minute your non-profit is established, it ceases to be about you. The non-profit organization, along with its staff and volunteers, is a public charity conducting work on behalf of the donors. The organization is simply the facilitator, the conduit between the donor and the beneficiary.

Don’t get me wrong. I know you work hard, and often put in well-beyond a full work week. You stay in the trenches! You make a difference, too!

But donors need to know they are making a difference. They share your passion. They donate. They invest in you because they rely on you, and trust you, to get the work done – because they care about the cause.

Don’t forget to tell donors how important THEY are to the cause. Help them understand they are truly partners in delivering the solution – that you are all in this together because, as I’ve recently become painfully aware, self-congratulatory communications don’t inspire further giving.