This month Points of Light released Civic Life Today: Donate, our latest of a nine-issue magazine that explores the various elements of Points of Light’s Civic Circle. This issue thoughtfully helps individuals understand the power of their donations, but also how to approach donating with a critical lens to have the greatest impact.
While every organization is different, many nonprofits rely on donor support. In 2020, overall charitable giving in the United States increased 2 percent compared to the previous year. While you may be used to considering factors such as donor churn and donor retention, there’s another area to consider – donor trust.
The Independent Sector just released their Trust in Civil Society report, which explores factors that drive trust in American nonprofits and philanthropy. As part of their key findings, they share that there appeared to be a two-way street between trust and civic action. Donors and volunteers both indicate they have higher trust for nonprofit organizations, while also identifying it as a necessary factor for them to support the organization.
From the survey:
- 63% agreed that “many factors, including how much I trust a nonprofit to do what is right, determine whether or not I support it financially, or through volunteering”.
- 83% agreed that “nonprofits must earn my trust before I support them”
According to the report there are four primary dimensions that comprise trust capital. For nonprofits, statistical modeling indicates that Purpose and Integrity dimensions contribute the most to building or reducing trust.
One way to demonstrate both Integrity and Purpose is by being transparent – even if it means admitting failure. In the article, “Why Failing Transparently Is a Good Thing”, the author explains that discussing failure, and the learnings from it, can be a pathway to earning trust. Here are their quick tips for being more transparent with your donors and supporters:
- Publish your nonprofit financials. Even if you have a small organization, place your audited financials on your website.
- Consider getting a Guidestar Seal of Transparency. With a Seal of Transparency from Guidestar, you can increase your donations by 53%.
- In all of your programs, publish your outcomes and impact. Donors want to know the metrics for success and what your organization does. Be clear and transparent about it.
- Make sure to have whistleblowers and conflict-of-interest policies. When you have these policies, you demonstrate to donors that you understand best practices.
- Experiment and create pilot programs or initiatives. Finally, nonprofit leaders must develop their organizations. Thinking out of the box with vision and transparency shows you want to be a better nonprofit leader and expand your outcomes and impact.
What actions does your organization do to build trust with your volunteers and donors? What are other strategies and tips to increase your trust capital?