If you were a superhero, who would you be? Would you choose out-of-this-world powers like Superman or be a brave billionaire like Batman? Personally, I’ve never really been able to decide. But after recently watching so many comic book films, I’ve finally decided my favorite superhero has to be Ironman.
I suppose the superhero syndrome is innate in every human spirit to some degree. I mean, we all want to save the world, don’t we? Isn’t that why you go to work every day? You genuinely believe in the mission of your non-profit and know that your organization is making the world a better place, providing hope, and pledging healing to those in need.
But challenges arise when we attempt to be a superhero. We start communicating to our partners more about us and our ministry and less about working together to make the world a better place. We begin to ever so slightly replace our messages about the impact we could make with messages of how we need their help for us to be involved. If we’re not careful, we can allow our relationship with a financial partner to overwhelm our objective for partnership.
When we communicate language of ownership (our vision, my ministry, our opportunity), we’re actually inviting partnership around our relationship with the donor. This may not be a big deal in the beginning because, let’s be honest, it may be our personal credibility that’s motivating the donor to give. But if we’re not careful, our role as a leader in the ministry may actually begin to eclipse the donor’s ability to see the impact of our efforts. When this happens, we are managing two very different relationships, one with our partners and one with the impact, without either of them really becoming involved with one another.
Instead, we need to always communicate with language of impact (lives changed, people affected, solutions created, etc.). When we begin to communicate impact directly to our partners, we actually create a third relationship, one between our partners and the goal of impact. This direct relationship between the partners and the goal changes the role of leadership in the ministry. Your role is no longer about raising support for your ministry but about inviting partners to invest in life-changing impact. The crucial point is to intimately connect donors with a purpose to the point where they want to join you in making an impact.
When we are communicating in a way that connects our partners to the goal, we no longer feel as if we contain the value for which partners are looking. We can stop trying to be Superman and start saving the world.
Kiley, Tailored Co-Founder