Six years ago I did a lot of marketing work for a former friend of mine. He owned two different businesses and I helped both of them.

We agreed on the amount to be paid and a contract was signed. Because of cash flow issues, I helped him out by spreading the overall payment into a number of monthly payments.

Eventually I got the first payment. And that was it.

Are We Telling The Truth?

Trust has been on my mind a lot recently. Trust in colleagues, trust in nonprofits and trust in business partners.

The above story was never resolved. I’m owed close to $10,000. Tons of promises were made, plenty of emails were ignored and eventually I just dropped it.

You really learn a lot about people when money is involved.

That’s also true in the nonprofit sector.

Only 52% of Americans say they trust nonprofits.

Think about that for a second: Is your organization the 1 in 6 or 1 in 4? Because there’s a HUGE difference!

When donors trust you, they are more likely to donate. They’re more likely to be involved.

But when they’re suspicious of your organization and its activities, they’ll think twice and three times before donating. Odds are they’ll hesitate long enough to find a different cause to support. (Trust me, they have plenty of options.)

Don’t assume because you’re a nonprofit and your mission statement says that you help homeless families, people will believe that automatically. They don’t. You have to prove it to them.

What worries donors to the point of moving elsewhere? Here are a few questions they might be asking themselves:

  • Do they really do what they say they do?
  • Are my donor dollars actually having impact and solving a problem or is the organization misusing the funds?
  • Why do they only contact me when they need money?
  • I can’t cure hunger in my community. Will my $10 a month really help?

If your organization isn’t providing the information they need and the reassurance that gifts are being put to good use, you might as well wave bye bye to your current donors.

Image by NoName_13 from Pixabay

Why Should They Trust You?

Even with recommendations, testimonials and personal requests, the onus is still on you, the organization, to provide the necessary information so that supporters trust you. Trust is earned, not assumed.

When they trust you, you build a better relationship. That leads to higher donor retention and higher donor gifts.

Pretty sure those are both a plus.

How can you bring them to trust you?

  • Constant and consistent communications: I spoke with a potential client a few weeks ago and they told me they only send emails to donors once a quarter. “Our Board feels that more than that will annoy subscribers.”

Sigh. No it won’t!

(People don’t open every email you send. So if all you send is 4 emails per year, they might open one. Think that one email per year connects people to your organization?)

Your communications with supporters has to be constant. Keep them updated. Let them learn how they’re impacting people in their community.

They’re not going to read everything you send or pick up the phone when you call. But if you provide enough chances and the content is valuable, they’ll read. And learn. And be proud of giving to your nonprofit.

  • Gather that data! How many people have you helped? And how exactly have you helped them?

Data helps tell a story that donors want to know about and understand. Knowing that you’re raising reading and math scores among poor elementary aged children is a big deal. Sharing how many families will have three meals a day means a lot.

Your organization should be receiving a constant stream of data from your program managers. It’s important that info is passed along to your fundraising and marketing teams and your Board. Everyone should not only know the latest data but should share it on social media, via email, in person meetings with supporters and more.

  • Find the stories: People connect with stories. It allows them to read, see and hear the good they are doing in this world.

Your organization should have a story bank, a place where you store all your success stories. That bank is critical to your fundraising and marketing efforts. You share stories at events, in your enews, on your website, in your annual reports, in fundraising asks and sit downs with funders and donors.

Want your donors to trust you? Share stories. Let them feel good about giving. Make them see how they’re doing good in this world.

Provide proof that even a “small” gift of $10 a month has a large impact.

If they give but then there’s no follow up, how will they know what impact their gift had? Without that knowledge they’ll move their donor dollars to a different destination.

  • Multiple platforms: Wayne Gretzky once famously said: “You miss all the shots you take when you go to where the puck is going.” Or something like that.

Each donor is different. Some enjoy reading your emails. Others follow you on social media. Your blog has a strong following. You have supporters who prefer mailings to their house, while others want text messages.

Your communications with donors has to be in multiple places. Sharing data, stories, program info, upcoming events, educational material and more can’t be confined to just your website. If people don’t visit your site, they’ll never be informed! Not informed = how did the organization use my gift = I have no clue = not donating to them again.

Provide donors with multiple chances to read your material on multiple platforms. Call or Zoom chat with donors. Met them in person. Do what you have to to ensure they know what’s going on, they are updated on the latest and greatest and they can get an idea of the impact they are having.

Ephraim Gopin's New Balance dad sneakers

My Dad Sneakers

When people buy a product that they enjoy using or wearing, good chance they’re gonna buy the same product from the same company again.

They trust it.

For example, I am a Dad Sneaker wearer. I wear New Balance 608s, usually the white and blue classics. Though I am now wearing a pair of gray ones because ya gotta change things up once in awhile.

Your nonprofit isn’t a product. Unless they come for a visit and see the work up close, donors have less of a feel for what’s going on. If you’re not working on building a connection based on shared values and trust, it’s easy for them to decide to move on.

Your organization is doing great things 365/24/7. Make sure your donors can believe that as well.

Want your year-end campaign content to hit the mark? Want to surpass your 2023 fundraising goals? Then sign up now for my Year End Success program! I’ll review your copy, suggest upgrades and changes so that the content mobilizes people to take action. Let’s make your year-end campaign wildly successful!