Promises Made and Broken With Donors
There’s a funny thing about promises or commitments. They are so easy to make and, many times, so difficult to deliver.
As I write this, I can think of a small list of promises I made in the last several months. I will keep all of them because that is the right thing to do. But there are several of them I regret making and I am tempted daily to get out of them.
And it is that temptation that I need to manage because if I renege on my promise, I will hurt someone and I will hurt myself.
That is the part many people miss. When they break a promise or a commitment, for some reason they understand they are actively hurting someone else. But they don’t get it that they are also hurting themselves.
You see, when you break a promise or commitment, you are deciding to be a person that lacks integrity. A part of your very core is damaged. You even become conditioned to not keep other promises. And, over time, that conditioning turns you into a very selfish, non-caring, hard and cold individual who will do most anything to get what you want no matter the impact on others.
Jeff and I dealt with a situation where a person had made a commitment to us that they reneged on. It didn’t feel good. I felt angry and hurt by it because I thought this individual was a person of integrity. I guess not.
But the situation also made me sad. What kind of person do you need to be to look another person in the eye and promise to do something and then not do it? You must feel pretty bad about yourself. And that is sad. So rather than fix what is troubling you, you take steps to hurt someone else. And I can imagine this person is also hurting others: friends, children, spouse, boss, employees, donors, etc. It is not good.
I have written all of this to get you in touch with how it feels to a donor when you make a promise and then do not keep it. Here are some of the promises you have likely made:
- You promised that the donor’s gift would make a difference about something she cares about. Have you kept that promise?
- You said his relationship with you means a lot to you. Have you proven that in how you treat him?
- You promised to fully address any concerns or questions she might have. Have you done that — in every situation?
- You said you would understand if he needed to change his giving level or frequency. Do you really understand and accept that or are you secretly angry and disappointed by it?
You may have made other promises. Did you keep them all? If not, get in touch with how the donor feels about your broken promises. And think about how your actions affect you.
And if you have kept all your promises and commitments to your donors, good for you. I know some of them were very hard to keep. But you did it. And you are a better person for it.
If you’re hanging with Richard it won’t be long before you’ll be laughing.
He always finds something funny in everything. But when the conversation is about people, their money and giving, you’ll find a deeply caring counselor who helps donors fulfill their passions and interests. Richard believes that successful major-gift fundraising is not fundamentally about securing revenue for good causes. Instead it is about helping donors express who they are through their giving. The Connections blog will provide practical information on how to do this successfully. Richard has more than 30 years of nonprofit leadership and fundraising experience, and is founding partner of the Veritus Group.