Unless you are one of the fraction of individuals who ended up marrying the first person you dated or belong to a culture that has arranged marriages, odds are pretty good that you had a relationship ended or you ended a relationship. Sometimes, to lessen the pain of the break up, the kind-hearted person ending the relationship will use the old “It’s not you, it’s me” line. In their mind or heart, it really is something about you that they can’t deal with, but they think that by taking the blame, it will make the situation easier for you to accept and not leave you wondering what is wrong with you. This rarely works, believe me.
Unfortunately, when nonprofit organizations are communicating with donors, they communicate the same message, it’s not you, it’s us. They write or talk about how great their organization is, and how wonderful and innovative their programs are, taking the credit for everything they do. They fail to include their supporters as the key to their success. When organizations use this mentality in their communications on a regular basis, it will end up in a break up with their donors.
Organizations need to change their tack, and say “it’s not us, it’s you.” They need to emphasize that all their good work is due to the support of their donors and volunteers. They could not succeed without the support of those who give them financial support and time. Those people are your partners and they need to know and be constantly reminded that they are valuable and essential to your organization’s success. To be successful, use a donor-centered message and let your supporters know that all the good things you do cannot happen without them. They need to know this and hear it often.
If you want to end the relationship with your supporters, keep using the “it’s not you, it’s us” message. If you want to keep your donors and grow the relationship with greater engagement, change that message to “it’s not us, it’s you.”