Program or Purpose?—you choose

If I’m at a social gathering where philanthropists and nonprofit leadership and both are present I observe—and hear—two languages being spoken. As in any gathering where there is more than one language, if one group only understands it’s language, these individuals will quickly find each other and begin to converse in their language. Gradually, but certainly, the room of social congregants becomes a floor of small groups of folks who are all speaking the same language—to themselves.

ArrowWhat am I talking about? For the nonprofit leaders the conversation is almost always about programs and funding. For the philanthropists, it’s about outcomes and investments. There are a few charitable organizations, however, whose leadership has decided to learn a different language—the language of those who do—and would—support them. You can probably name a few of these. Leslie Crutchfield and Heather Grant detailed the stories of some of these in their excellent book, Forces for Good.

So the next time you go to a cocktail party—or a coffee gathering—where both do-gooders and philanthropists are present, listen to the languages being spoken. If you’re interested in garnering more support for a worthy organization —sustainable, scalable support—be sure to speak the language of purpose not program.

Principle 1 of The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising® is Donors are the Drivers™. If you’re looking to get someone to support you, it’s always best to speak their language.

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