Good post from The Far Edge of Promise: Principles Before Practice.
Among those principles: Understanding your constituents is more important than them understanding you and your institution.
When we hold a general view that our work is ... to better understand our donors and future donors, we have the beginning framework of how we should work. Instead of arming major gift officers with printed case statements, ipads, or other materials designed to help us tell our story better, we should teach them how to ask insightful questions and listen actively.
This can turn a hurting program around.
So many organization work from the errant assumption that they'd raise more funds if they could figure out how to educate their donors more. So they keep trying more and more self-centered marketing about how excellent they are -- which makes them less and less interesting to donors.
The real answer is in the opposite direction: Figure out your donors. Realize that by asking them to give, you are asking to join their "program" of world-changing generosity, not asking them to become part of your program.
The more you know about your donors, the better you can meet their needs. And the more they'll give.