One simple thing you can do to build donor trust


It’s top of mind for most of us fundraisers these days.

The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer backs up our feelings of concern. Trust in NGOs is continuing to decline or remain low in many markets, and they went so far as to identify a full-on “trust crash” in the US for all institutions, including NGOs.

There’s one simple way organizations of any size can make huge strides towards rebuilding trust with donors – and it goes something like this:

Do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it.

That’s it.

If you promise you are going to call by a certain date, call by that date.

If you ask them for a gift to support important work, report back on the impact of their donation in a timely fashion.

If a donor shares their communication preferences, take note, and respect their request.

If you suggest to a donor you’d like to meet with them, follow up and book the meeting with them.

Like many things in life, this is simple – but not easy!

As an active (if modest) donor myself, I am often astonished by how few organizations actually follow through on even the most basic promises to their supporters.

You can stand out from the crowd simply by meeting the commitments you’ve made to your donors.

If you or your organization are finding this difficult, here are a few ways you can make sure you are following up, following through, and building trust with your donors.

Build systems to support stronger donor relationships

If you want to be consistent about your follow through with donors, you have to get serious about developing the systems you need to support your work.

If your current donor management system is comprised of a series of excel spreadsheets, an assemblage of sticky notes, and a day planner, it may be time for an upgrade.

A great donor database is a central part of any good system that supports relationship and trust building with your donors.

Used correctly and consistently, a good CRM can tell you when that stewardship report is due for a major donor, remind you which donors only want to be solicited once a year when you’re doing a spring mailing, and give you a helpful nudge when it’s time to book that April coffee meeting you promised to a snowbird bequest pledger you met at your open house last fall.

If you are truly committed to building donor trust, investing in effective systems must be a top priority.

Prioritizing your day and blocking your time

What gets scheduled, gets done!

I’m a big advocate for blocking out time on your calendar to deal with your highest priorities, preferably early in the day when your energy levels are at their highest (and if you looked at my schedule, you’d see I practice what I preach!).

If you have difficulty finding the time to meet the commitments you make to donors, consider blocking out a recurring chunk of time every week to follow up with your supporters.

This time can be used to book donor meetings, make follow up calls, or even make sure the systems that support your relationship building with donors are operating as smoothly as possible.

Strengthening your culture of philanthropy

Ultimately, if you want to build trust with donors, philanthropy has to be valued at your organization.

If your leadership sees fundraising as a necessary evil, your donors are going to sniff that out pretty quickly.

To truly build meaningful, lasting trust over the long term, donors need to be considered a part of your community – and philanthropy needs to play a key role in delivering on your mission and vision.

Do you need a hand building the culture of philanthropy at your organization, or creating effective systems to manage your donor relationships? Let’s chat! I offer a free one-on-one coaching call to all my readers, and you can book your complimentary session using my on-line calendar. I look forward to speaking soon!

Featured Posts
Recent Posts