How do you decide if you should trust a person or an organization? That question is on the mind of every potential donor.
So what does that mean for fundraising professionals?
Anyone involved in fundraising knows they must cultivate relationships. We also know that the basis of every relationship is trust. Your mission might be crystal clear. Your organizational structure and communication strategy might be obvious to everyone. That’s great; but today’s donors want and need to be able to trust the organizations they support.
As I wrote in the article The Advent of Zen Marketing, there is something refreshing about building trust around open dialogue, authentic interactions, and shared interests and passions. In a world that’s moving faster than ever before, building trust with your donors requires a simple principle that’s as old as Buddha—be present.
10 Ways Nonprofits Can Embrace the New Rules of Donor Engagement
How can nonprofits build trust in a world that is growing more and more skeptical? Here are ten ideas that you should put into practice.
1. Listen more than you talk.
2. Be active in engaging donors and prospects regularly and consistently.
3. Respond to the comments, questions, and interactions from others when they’re directed to you.
4. Share relevant information that is consistent with the needs, obstacles, and questions of the people you want to reach.
5. Do more than just hire an intern with a Facebook page, and then expect that person to merge organizational and fundraising strategy with his or her personal social media habits.
6. Appreciate channels for what they are; flex the unique muscles of each one.
7. Always shoot for effectiveness, not efficiency. Relationships aren’t efficient—they are mandatory for building capacity to advance your mission.
8. Be patient. Let your donor move at his or her own pace.
9. Prompt for a specific transaction (or ask) much less often than you desire a response.
10. Promote and give credit to others for great ideas and exciting results.
An Important Reminder for Nonprofit Leaders
Seth Godin encourages leaders to build their tribes by developing trust. As the leader of your organization, you are responsible for leading your tribe (staff, board, donors, volunteers, cause amplifiers, etc.). If you aren’t consistently present, you won’t have any currency to spend with the people you want to reach. You’ll find them asking questions that interfere with their willingness to give. If they can’t see you, how do they know you exist? If they never hear from you, how will they learn to trust you? If they are never given the opportunity to talk to you, how will they know you are listening?
When people choose to join your tribe, they are acknowledging your presence and aligning with your purpose. They believe you are determined to change the world. They trust you have the ability to do it. That relationship is invaluable!
How is your organization embracing the new rules of donor engagement?