Relationships are built on honest communication sharing frustrations, concerns, and joys. Donor relationships are the same way. I have worked for a number of bosses and organizations that are convinced that vulnerability is the wrong way to go. There is something innate in us that wants to convince everyone that we are in complete control and without weaknesses.
There are right and wrong times to be vulnerable. The best time to be vulnerable is in a relationship-building conversation. It is more difficult to be vulnerable in the right way during a solicitation conversation as it can give off the impression that you don’t really know what you are doing.
A great way to treat a donor as a person is to let them know an area you are struggling with within your organization. Give them an opportunity to share a bit of their strengths with you to round out an area of weakness or lack of experience. This can be in how you design a new major gifts program or your donor acknowledgement process.
Vulnerability can be rather close to humility and can even be seen as a sign of wisdom or good management. Take some time to think about what it is that you do well and with what you struggle. Take a second to have that conversation with a trusted board member or volunteer and see what happens.