Wednesday, 9 February 2011

What drives trust in your charity and its work?

There is a great deal of talk and discussions about trust in the charity sector today. Why should donors trust charities? Are charities doing what they say they would do with the money? Are they achieving results? Which charity should I support? How do I as a donor know which charity to trust with my money?

At a recent fundraising event in London Prof. Adrian Seargant presented five drivers of trust in charities, derived from his research of the sector, that all of us can benefit from considering and implementing. So, if you want to ensure that donors trust your charity you should be:

1. Drip feeding data to donors through all your communications. Use facts and figures to show the needs, how you are addressing the needs and the impact you are making How you are using the money to do your work.

2. Demonstrate competence. First of all make sure that your staff are competent and well trained to deliver the services your charity provides and demostrate this competence in your communications. Talk about how staff handle difficult situations, share their views and perspectives about their work, tell donors that your staff members are receiving the best training to keep them competent and increase their skills.

3. Demonstrate good judgement. This applies to how you use your money and how you decide what programmes to launch and how you do your work. This doesn't mean that you have to be overcautious about everything but not being hallucinary helps as well. Show how you use research and sound thinking to decide what needs to address and how you go about meeting those needs.

4. Be honest when things go wrong. Newsletters and other communications are full of success stories and rarely do donors see how your charity addresses any difficult problems or issues in these communications. However, donors live in the real world and they know that live doesn't always run smoothly or predictably. So, if you want your donors to trust your charity make sure that you share with them about problems and setbacks - invite prayer and support and don;t be afraid to tell them that you have failed (sometimes) and share the lessons you have learnt and how will you do things in a new way in the future.

5. Develop and promote complaints procedures. Many donors leave charities silently because they are dissapointed with how they are treated (in impersonal ways) but they don't tell you anything mainly because they know you will not bother do reply or deal with the situation. So, if you want to retain your supporters for the long run make sure that you encourage them to interact with your staff, to offer feedback about your communications, frequencies of receiving appeals and other stuff that matters to them. Respond to their questions and concerns promptly and take every opportunity to let them know that they have a voice and that they will be heard.

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