5 cautions regarding human nature

March 11, 2014       The NonProfit Times      

Nonprofit managers can often lose sight of the fact that a noble mission and the best of intentions can run afoul of simple human nature. Not all employees are giving it 110 percent all of the time, and some might not be giving half of that half of the time. Even when people are trying their hardest, they can make ordinary human mistakes.

In his book “The Zen of Fundraising” Ken Burnett wrote that dealing with people can be rewarding and successful, but there are five cautions leaders should keep in mind:

  • Expect inconsistency. Common sense is rare. Don’t expect people to apply common sense regularly or consistently, or even at all.
  • Constantly reiterate. Everything has been said before, but because so few people really listen, it has to be said again and again. Most of the time fundraisers don’t read, don’t listen and don’t learn. Many donors are like that, too.
  • Learn to read people accurately. Donors will often say what they think someone in the organizations wants to hear. Because what people say to us might not really be completely accurate, we have to learn to really read people.
  • Delve deeper. What people say they will do is often different from what they do in practice. Beware of this, and dig deeper to discover the real meaning of research findings.
  • Never assume. When in doubt, check it out.