Every thriving relationship is built upon a foundation of robust trust. Relationships between non-profit organizations and their supporters are no different, and building trust with your donors goes beyond simply establishing good will. In the information age, donors increasingly expect both organizational transparency and demonstrable results. Fortunately, you can maintain and build donor confidence by ensuring that key information is available on your organization’s website, and by regularly reporting back to donors with concrete examples of investment and impact.
To build trust, your organization needs to be able to readily answer the following donor questions:
How much money do you raise and how do you spend your revenue?
Donors expect a detailed breakdown of expenditures including administrative costs and fundraising expenses. They also want a clear explanation of what programs you are funding and the dollar amounts being allocated. Publish links on your website to the most recent annual report and even your audited financial statements.
Who is in charge of your organization? Sharing your leadership structure, such as the professionals in senior management roles and the composition of your Board of Directors, instills confidence that the organization is being managed competently. This information also demonstrates that there are reporting structures in place to ensure accountability and transparency. It also gives donors a knowledge of key personnel if there is a problem that needs to be addressed.
How do I know that funds are being spent effectively? Your donors expect to not only know how revenue is being spent, but that you are investing in programs, research or other initiatives that have true impact. Provide concrete examples of how your organization is creating change. Where applicable, share statistics, case studies, stories and other testimonials that illustrate the transformative power of your efforts.
And remember, beyond being able to answer these key questions, trust is also about making your donors feel heard, respected and appreciated. So, when sharing information and outcomes, make sure to say “Thank You” often and sincerely. Acknowledge donors for their support, their generosity, and the trust they have given your organization to do good in the world. After all, you are partners working to achieve a common goal and you can ensure success by creating an organization that both values and communicates integrity and a clear sense of purpose.