31 July 2005

Fortune cookie advice: "Promise only what you can deliver."

No kidding. That was today's fortune.

"Promise only what you can deliver."

For some reason, both donors and nonprofit managers have a pernicious habit of speaking in declarative sentences about things that are actually indefinite.

It's time to realize that you don't have to be all things to all people. Promising that you are going to be is a form of lying. Don't do it.

1 comment:

Donna Schillinger said...

Agreed! Further, I don't like being told my dollar is going to do one thing, when it does something else, even if that something else is a good thing. I'm a big girl, I can handle a nonprofit telling me exactly how they plan to help people. For example: Heifer - the Golden Calf of international development orgs - entices me to buy a flock of ducks for $20 or a water buffalo for $250. But in the fine print in their annual report, they say this: "To help the greatest number of families move toward self-reliance, Heifer does not use its limited resources to track individual animals from donation to distribution to specific families. Instead, your gift supports the entire Heifer Mission." According to the pie chart on that same page, that includes 24% support services (read admin, PR, fundraising, etc.). I know an org has to pay the light bill somehow, but why can't they be more straight-forward? If I purchase a flock of ducks, I want to know that somewhere down the supply chain, a flock of ducks was actually purchased. I get not being able to track donations to individual families, but how about at least telling me how many animals you gave away last year? That's their thing - they give animals away - but they can't tell the donor how many? I don't like it.