“I appreciate complaints.
Praise is also welcome…it makes it worthwhile emotionally, which probably is almost as good!”
In the non-profit world, the stakes are too high for everyone to simply “take my business elsewhere…” when a complaint (or series of complaints) goes unaddressed. Organizations must make it a regular practice to collect information from supporters and respond to it. Quickly. Authentically. And on the flip side, supporters of non-profits must kindly, productively, honestly, helpfully offer up ways for the organizations we support to grow while standing by, not threatening to leave, being a part of the change we wish to see. And complain we must!
Supporting a non-profit is typically relational, not transactional. I am invested in a non- profit organization because I am in relationship with it, its staff, volunteers, and other supporters. It is important to me and central to my life. I feel very different about my relationship with my clinic or library or community center or school than I do about a department store or supermarket or utility company. While the for-profit institutions may call me a member or valued patron and my business may be valuable to their bottom line, my relationship with them is pretty thin; I purchase what they have. I do recognize how many for-profit institutions do a much better job at appreciating my business than others (I suppose the relationship can deepen, actually create some loyalty–thanks, Costco!), but for the most part, I am not invested in their success or failure. With the non-profits I care about, I really care…enough to speak up when they are great and when they fall short. And I stick with them!
So complain today! Get it off your chest. And what would it take for you to offer your complaints in a manner that deepens your relationship with the person or organization receiving your complaint? What would it be like for you to complain and feel better and create an opportunity for the other person to grow (vs. alienate them with your words and energy)?