Donor trust is a fragile thing. Any relationship that involves money comes with some hesitancy, and many people generally don’t trust institutions in their life. If you run a charity that’s pursuing much-needed change in the world, this is one obstacle to constructing solid programs.
To begin the slow work of gaining others’ loyalty, here’s how charities can build donor trust in three steps.
Talk Results and Be Accountable
Assuming you set out concrete goals every quarter or so, communicate how you’re doing on them regularly and openly. Give partners the numbers you’re looking at and publish them on sites such as GuideStar and Charity Navigator. Don’t shield anything.
Transparency diminishes any doubt donors have about your intentions because they see you’re prioritizing program success rather than appearances. Though it goes against your gut, talking through your struggles will actually engender trust. Individuals who feel attached to what you’re doing may help your nonprofit bear its present burden because of your honesty.
Provide Unbeatable Support (and Always Say “Thank You”)
Another way charities can build donor trust is by supporting them enthusiastically and expediently. Though you can’t give donors much, you should make sure they feel the value of each point of contact. Dedicating at least one employee to donor support helps you answer questions about donation logistics readily. Hopefully, your staff surprises people so much with their responsiveness that you gain a lifelong partner.
Another way to up the value of interactions is by constantly thanking contributors for any input. After a survey response, send a thank-you. When individuals inquire about your work, tell them you appreciate their questions. And after a donation, give them a special thanks. For longer-term supporters, don’t be shy about sending a just-because message of gratitude (without an appeal to donate more).
Don’t Overstep Their Boundaries
One final note: don’t violate donor boundaries. Everyone you contact feels differently about you contacting them. One-time givers may not want constant emails, and even your most loyal donors may feel it’s a bit much at times if you go overboard.
To avoid this, follow these rules of engagement: communicate with humility, give alternatives if they say no, and respect their wishes. These strategies help you limit money-centric interactions and keep you from looking pushy or intrusive.
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