To check bags, or not to check bags? (or assumptions people are making about you)

We were headed out on a trip and both heard the same information – we would have multiple legs on our flight. My first thought was, we should try to pack light and not check any bags. Bags get lost and the chances of it getting lost increase each time you change airplanes. Almost the first words out of my new husband’s mouth were: “we should definitely check our bags then.” I hope I was more gracious than my memory tells me I was. My reply was something to the effect of “why in the world would we want to do that?”

It turns out that our flying experiences have been very different. Until he met me, Rob had never had a bag lost while he traveled. On the other hand, I’ve had my luggage misdirected more times than I can remember. And the trend hasn’t reversed since I met my husband. If only our luck could have changed in the other direction!

So Rob’s train of thought was simple: why would we want to lug our luggage around multiple airports if the airline could do it for us.

Think about that for a moment. We both heard the same information, but came to very different conclusions.

But, you might ask, what in the world does that have to do with nonprofits?

Often, we think that other people fully understand and comprehend the importance of the work that we do, so we jump to telling people what we do – rather than why we do it. What this can result in is feelings of frustration that people aren’t jumping in to help. And it doesn’t help our cause any.

The assumptions that you make based on a set of information might be very different than assumptions other people come to.

With that in mind, I encourage you to share information about your organization with a few people who are NOT already knowledgeable about the work that you do. Ask lots of questions. Some that come to mind are: What does this information make you think about the people we serve? How do you feel about the work that we do? How do you feel about our organization? Is there anything you learned that surprised you?

I look forward to hearing about the responses you get – especially if you learn something new and end up making changes in how you share your story!


To check bags, or not to check bags? (or assumptions people are making about you) — 4 Comments

  1. Sort of like “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Everyone’s perception is different, isn’t it? With my benefit auction clients, I often remind them that although they eat, breathe, and drink the auction, others don’t. You’ve got to explain the auction and tell others why it’s important.

    Thanks for the post!

  2. OMG last time I flew to Portland they lost my bags!

    I agree, let’s pack light, not bring bags! Also, they charge you for each bag you check!

    And I think we should not assume that people know what we do or why we do it. We have to unpack our assumptions as nonprofit professionals. Asking questions are the best way to do this.


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