Sharing Transparency Ratings In Email

A few weeks ago I shared with you a fundraising email from MAP International where they included their transparency ratings. I asked you whether you thought that was a good idea or not. And you responded!

MAP International shares transparency ratings in a fundraising email

Below are some of the responses from Email 366 subscribers. But first I’d like to share with you the thoughts of fundraising copywriting expert, Mary Cahalane of Hands On Fundraising:

“I would put the “awards” at the bottom, maybe without comment. As you should with with an online form.

But I think even bringing up the possibility that they might NOT be trustworthy has some danger.

And… people want to know what their gifts are doing… not earning rewards. I would tell one good beneficiary story, connect it directly to the donor and then maybe mention the awards and attribute those to the donor, too.”

My thoughts? I wasn’t a fan. I don’t think the ratings are known outside of people who work in our sector, which means you’re using valuable fundraising real estate on something readers won’t understand. Adding confusion in an email is not going to help mobilize people to take action.

So what did YOU think of the above email? Here are some of the comments I got from Email 366 subscribers (they are all published anonymously but I do have permission to share the below quotes):

Didn’t Like It

“I lost focus immediately while I was reading. I wouldn’t send this. It didn’t even speak to a problem or solution.”

“I would say NO. You really shouldn’t have anything in your fundraising email that takes away from making your emotionally compelling case for support. This is great if I’ve already decided to give. But it does nothing to make me want to give. In fact, it takes my mind off the mission.”

“Such sharing makes the appeal about the org rather than the donor. If you aren’t connecting with their personal values, they really don’t care.”

Maybe But…

“I think it’s fine as an email, but not as part of an ask. Maybe a better plan is to put a link that says, why you can trust us and include the logos of the “certifying org” and then have the details on your website.

However, when someone tells me every time they talk to  me, you can trust me, I think I would trust them LESS not more.”

“I like the idea of sharing transparency ratings but it shouldn’t be the entire email. It can be highlighted to stand out, but should follow or be used together with an impactful story. Otherwise it is jargon they may not understand or care to read. Paired with the right story and a good connecting explanation, I can see it working!”

“Not sure exactly where it should go in an email, but I do think it’s important and I’ve been working on getting these ratings for our organization.”

“I personally don’t think it’s something that should be central to whether or not donors give, but it seems to be. We’ve received some gifts from family foundations out of the blue because we have good transparency ratings. So I have it at the bottom of emails and our website because it does influence some people.”

The Rating System? Very Meh

“Though the donors may not know this, the more I learn about these ratings the more I feel like they’re kinda BS..”

“Many of these rating websites are ‘pay to play’ so if you can afford to pay the fee to be rated, you already know you’re going to be rated well, because why would you pay if you suck?  

Transparency should be:
Audit on website
Donor Bill of Rights on website
Impact reports on website.”

Thank you to everyone who responded and for giving me permission to share your thoughts!