Continuing the train of thoughts on things that I’ve learned in the last 12 years, today, we’re going to discuss why it’s important to discuss things.

No I mean why it’s important for organizations to discuss thing.

Was it important to discuss things 12 years ago?    I didn’t think so.

But now it is…….

With their supporters.    With their staff.   With the people they serve.   With their board.   With social media.

Way back when I was a kid, missionaries and development and aid organizations could get by with publishing a 2 time a year “newsletter” and that would be enough information for their supporters.

That doesn’t work any more.    The age of instant communication changed that.

International aid organizations are no longer “over there.”    Instead, they are now “right here.”  (Points at computer screen).    You can find out about something that is happening “over there” often times almost as quickly as someone who is there.

“Who is your neighbor?”    The list of people who qualify as your neighbor just got a lot bigger.     Your neighbor now includes:

  • Christians in Syria
  • Children in Haiti
  • Kidnapped girls in Nigeria
  • Survivors in Vanuatu
  • Underprivileged kids on the streets of New York – (Thank you HONY)

If we, “back here” have a much greater and closer view of our neighbors “over there” it also means we have a greater view and insight into the organizations that are helping or attempting to help.

Organizations “over there” no longer have the ability to hide things.   They no longer have the ability to tell the story the way they want it told.   There are too many people on Twitter, on Facebook and Instagram who are telling the story of their town in their way.

So what does that mean?   What does it mean for organizations that are working “over there.”   (And over there could be  down the street)……

It means that transparency is a must.   Complete and honest openness about what is happening, the good, the bad, the ugly, the failures, the successes – it all needs to be an open book.

It means that education is more important than ever.   Supporters are expecting to understand what they are supporting.    They are expecting to see accountability.    They understand that realities in Chicago might be different than realities in Midland Kansas – but they want to know.   They understand that priorities change and rule change and governments change – but they want to know.

It means that “I’m the expert, trust me,” doesn’t work any more.   Because if someone is interested in making a difference in what your organization is doing, they are probably also watching and caring about what ____ and _____ are doing.    So, if you just say, “trust me” then you run a big risk of them moving their support down the road and helping another organization.

Was communication and transparency important 12 years ago?   I didn’t think so.

But I do now……..

Tom