Husbands and Wives and Other Relationships


Sue has known forever that family is important to her. She wants kids, four to be exact, two girls and two boys if possible. One day Sue will marry a man who loves family.

John is the second of five children. He looks forward to Thanksgiving and other holidays just so he can connect and get grounded with his family.  When he’s ready for marriage, he will find a woman who shares his values.

As fate would have it, Sue and John meet at an outdoor concert and click. Their relationship blossoms and they discover with delight how much they have in common. Within a year they’re married. The first of their children, a daughter, is born just after their second anniversary.

John and Sue each contribute to their family in their own way and live out their roles faithfully. Soon they slip into a comfortable routine, each honouring their commitment to make it work, each grateful and showing their appreciation for the other.

Time goes by and one day they realize they’re not happy anymore. Somewhere along the way, they began to take each other for granted and bit by bit they let their commitments slip to the point where the ‘D word’ entered the conversation. If only they had seen what was happening before they got to this point. If only they had been more intentional about honouring their commitment, appreciating their partner and being grateful for what they have.

Maybe there is still hope for Sue and John. The question is, are they willing to do what it takes to save their relationship?


The relationships that non-profit organizations have with their donors and volunteers are not so different. Your donors and volunteers came to you already knowing what they were passionate about. They saw how your values matched with theirs. Getting involved with you made sense, you might even say it clicked.

You both entered into an agreement. They committed to supporting you with their time, talent or money and you promised to fulfil your end of the commitment by remaining accountable to them. They told everybody they knew about your work and the wonderful things you do, and inspired others to come on board. You shared about their commitment every chance you could and made sure that you always let them know how grateful you were for them.

Maybe somewhere down the line you got lazy, or too busy, or distracted by other things and began to let your end of the bargain slip. You took them for granted and just assumed they would always be there. One day you noticed that they did not honour their usual commitment. Maybe it even caught you off guard and you wondered how it could have happened. Why didn’t you see it coming?

Maybe there is still hope.  The question is are you willing to lay the ground work to ensure it never happens again and to re-establish the trust in your relationship with them?

How do you make sure that you are continuously honouring your commitment to those who are supporting you?

The purpose of The Other Bottom Line is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.



  1. Louise Gallagher

    Love the analogy of a marriage slipping into silence and donors. So true!

    And it is hard — you’re busy. Not enough staff. Not enough time to do it all — the one’s you count on get taken for granted….

    Great questions. Thanks Diana. Need to think on this one — very pertinent to my world today!

  2. bulldog

    One thing I’ve always done in business is stay in contact with my customers, to make a point of seeing them or phoning them letting them know I still appreciate them as a customer… when our one business started it began so small that it was poorly customers that used us, when we got so big that all the mines were using our services it would have been easy to shed the almost dead wood of the originals, but I lived by the adage, “Always remember where you started and who put you on your feet.” When we finally closed up shop I still had these customers that had used my services for 22 years it was them with whom I started and it was with them with whom I ended… never having lost touch or the friendship that developed… I still live by this in my business today…

  3. Wyrd Smythe

    I agree with Louise, very good analogy! It is a consensual relationship based (at least in part) on emotion, isn’t it. And therefore hurt feelings, or feelings of being ignored, can snowball into a desire for separation.

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