The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

Building Trust and Transparency

We’ve entered a Catch-22 of sorts these days: Constituents need our organizations’ programs, support and mission activities more than ever, but the nationwide belt-tightening is affecting our donors. (Don’t worry: They’re definitely still giving — especially online!)

So how do you keep those donations flowing? What’s the one piece of the puzzle you need to remember to fit in to continue to cultivate those supporter relationships?

Trust. Sounds a bit touchy-feely, right? But think about it: Your tax money that went into the first bailout package — where did it go? How are you feeling about Bernie Madoff? What about your trust in other financial institutions? And consider this: Over the past few years, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, NPR and the Association of Fundraising Professionals have all touted how little faith American donors have in U.S. charities specifically.

Here are a few key ways to be transparent and build trust with your donors (so they continue to support you!):

    1. Show where the money goes. Sending a thank-you note? Composing your latest e-newsletter? Be sure to include information about where those donor dollars went! The last thing your supporters want is to feel that their money was sucked into a black hole of administrative costs.


    1. Get specific! How many scholarships did you fund? What dog found a home instead of a kill-shelter? Who’s the volunteer you affected by giving the opportunity to work with children? Sure, pie charts can be delicious… I mean, informative… But make sure you’re showing people real change–not just facts and figures.


    1. Tell the whole story. Times are tough for all of us; be sure to recognize how important and appreciated their support has been. How have the times affected your constituents (those you’re working to help)? How have they affected your organization? Paint the full picture of what a difference your donor made.


  1. Be genuine. More than likely you’re pretty passionate about what you do. Make sure that’s imparted to supporters in your communications–your organization’s accomplishments are not just numbers; they’re stories. Think about how you can be authentic!

Being genuine, authentic and transparent is unrivaled in importance. (Seth Godin lists it as one of the pillars of success!)


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About This Blog

Linda Lombardi
Content Manager

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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