How to help donors trust your organization

You may think your main goal with donors is to motivate them to give them money. That’s only partly right. There’s something more important — and more difficult– that you need first.

Michael Rosen says, the most important, valuable thing a prospect or donor can give you is their trust. (What is the Most Important Thing a Donor Can Give You? It’s Not What You Think It is).

You know your organization is trustworthy, so you may think that’s an unimportant step. But from a donor’s point of view trust is the main issue. A long, sad history of charity scams and scandals have taught many that we aren’t trustworthy. Guilty until proven innocent.

Once you win trust, the money is (relatively) easy.

How do you get there? Here’s Rosen’s list. It’s geared toward major donor face-to-face relationships, but it can translate to all types of fundraising:

  • Keep your promises. Tell people what you’re going to do. Then, do it. Then, demonstrate you did it.
  • Tell donors how their gift will make a difference.
  • Tweak your body language, behavior, and mind-set.
  • Do not dominate the conversation.
  • Do not ask for a gift.

What might this tell us about a less personal medium like direct mail?

  • Be specific about what you’re asking the donor to do. Glittery abstractions don’t build trust.
  • Show your bona fides with watchdog organization.
  • Be transparent. Show donors how to get in touch with a human, see your annual report and audited financials, have a physical address.
  • Acknowledge gifts promptly.
  • Report back on the impact of their giving.
  • Don’t make errors with your donors’ data.


Comments

2 responses to “How to help donors trust your organization”

  1. Don’t ask for any gift, especially a 6-figure gift to be paid over multiple years and drop your personal one-on-one sustained donor contact. That’s right, your newsletter, magazine, mass e-mail from the CEO or President ain’t enough…you’re gonna have to get on a plane and go see her, at least annually.

  2. Don’t ask for any gift, especially a 6-figure gift to be paid over multiple years and drop your personal one-on-one sustained donor contact. That’s right, your newsletter, magazine, mass e-mail from the CEO or President ain’t enough…you’re gonna have to get on a plane and go see her, at least annually.

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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