I am yet to come across an individual or organization that would rather have people think the worst of them. We all want people to think of us as good, smart, efficient, effective and reliable – just as we think of ourselves. Don’t we? But people are not bound to see us the way we see ourselves. You may see yourself as the best in your field while others choose to see you as pretending to be so. And convincing them otherwise is not always easy. You may even turn them off if you become pushy about it.
You and I know that many don’t respond favorably to self-praise. They frown at it – and I don’t blame them. Who likes to hang around someone that always talks about themselves and their personal achievements? No matter how much you respect the person, you can get turned off by their self-indulgence.
That’s why the book of wisdom offers a very suitable advice in Proverbs 27: 2: “Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.”
Let a former professor of yours, an existing client, a former employer or former business partner say how good and dependable you are. Let your donors say how happy they are that their generous dollars are making a difference in the community. They actually sound more credible.
If like me, you lead a direct service nonprofit that touches and transforms lives, you will be all about producing positive results, and you will be ready at all times to discuss relevant facts and figures about your operational processes, outcomes and impact.
Why not? Doing so helps you get your train running strong and on time. Donors, be they individuals, families, government agencies, businesses and foundations, often donate on the clear understanding that you are delivering tangible results and making a difference. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
But it is important not to appear cheesy or charlatan-like while discussing one’s achievements.
Recruiters will readily advise that instead of indulging in vague self-praise (on one’s resume), one should show results using easy-to-understand numbers. Sure. Let the numbers speak for you. And to nonprofits, I often say let your info-graphics do most of the talking, especially if they contain data from top rated third parties.
It’s the same reason that accountants strive to get CPA status and physicians go to great lengths to become board certified. The third party validations make them look more dependable and competitive in the marketplace of solutions.
At Detroit Rescue Mission, for instance, we work hard to meet the tough requirements for maintaining our accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), and Better Business Bureau, among others, because many in our target audiences assess our efficacy and reliability through the lens of such validation.
And just last week, we received yet another 4-star rating, the “highest possible rating” by America’s leading charity evaluation organization, the Charity Navigator. “Only 32% of the charities we evaluate have received at least 2 consecutive 4-star evaluations, indicating that Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries outperforms most other charities in America,” noted Charity Navigator in a letter conveying the good news.
So, instead of telling people how good we are – and probably sounding like we are just bragging – we simply tell them we have the highest rating by Charity Navigator, and are accredited by the well-regarded organizations mentioned above. We tell them our clients, donors, neighbors, external auditors and evaluation agencies are saying we are good. We tell them our very experienced leaders are invited to sit on important boards and committees at the local, state and federal levels.
And if you ask me, I’d say the notable Michigan philanthropist who recently donated three big buildings – one in Livonia, and two in Detroit – to us must have taken such good reputation into consideration. I’d also say the same thing about the wonderful men and women who see us in the local news and write or call to make much-appreciated donations in support of our work.