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Would you say your nonprofit is trustworthy?

I sure hope I hear a chorus of “YES” through the interwebs!

Your reputation as an organization is one of the more critical components to pay attention to while simultaneously producing great outcomes, making big impact, and positioning your nonprofit as a thought leader in the community.

A bit overwhelming, eh?

Well, it turns out that hard work you have been doing in the background to create a fantastic brand for good is paying off, as the most recent survey from our friends at Most Trusted Brands have put out their Trust in Nonprofits Report this week.

And though the headline at the Chronical of Philanthropy (‘43% of Americans Have Lost Trust in a Nonprofit, Poll Finds’) seems to lead the reader into thinking there’s an epidemic of mistrust in nonprofits realm, there is a great bit of positive news that you can take away from this whole thing.

Namely – as long as you’re doing three simple things – your nonprofit will enjoy the position as a reputable fundraising entity that donors and supporters love being a cheerleader for.

Now, globally, institutions as a whole have watched a decline in trust over the past few years. Nonprofits get lumped into this category – almost unfairly in my opinion – as the whole world has watched in real time, governments and big businesses take hideous situations and somehow make them worse.

And since we know that nonprofits are launched and run to fill the gaps in programs and services that both those entities don’t provide.

So what are the three things your organization can do to rock out trust like a boss?

1. Americans instinctively trust nonprofits

Good news! You start from a great place! It sure would be a bummer of an article if you had to figure out how to build trust from absolutely nothing, but roughly 3 out of 5 individuals tend to trust organizations unless they did something blatantly bad to lose it.

What does this mean to you? It means you can engage with messages that can concentrate on what you do, your impact, your story, your mission and your engagement in the community rather than worrying about how to get Brenda to come around to liking the idea of nonprofits in the first place. Even better? Developing better relationships with your donors is only going to increase that trust!

2. Show me the money

I’m not sure how long our society can keep using Jerry McGuire quotes and be relevant but here we are.

One of the strongest reasons that individuals trust nonprofits is that they know their gifts are being put to good use. Transparency on what happens to donations and what outcomes are created because of it will do your organization good.

In fact, that transparency, coupled with great storytelling is most likely the best way to fundraise without sounding like you’re “begging” for gifts. Donors who see where their investment is making a difference through a great conversation will naturally and organically ask – “how can I help?”

Psssst! Spoiler alert! The answer to that question is Time, Talent or Treasure!

3. Nonprofits must do what they say and say what they do

I ask my kids every morning and night if they brushed their teeth. Fun fact, there is a 100% “YES” answer to that question. However, I know the REAL answer (because as a dad, I use the “This toothbrush is dry” bit to confirm) is roughly 27%.

If your nonprofit is like my children brushing your teeth, you’re gonna have a problem.

Donors and supporters flock to nonprofits that constantly deliver on what they say they are going to do. If your appeal is to raise funds to provide shelter for those who are chronically homeless, and you help get individuals off the street for the night, you are building an epic amount of trust with your donors.

Conversely if you are constantly starting and stopping projects with no impact in the community, they’re gonna run to the hills like an Iron Maiden song.

Deliver. Do Good. Repeat.

It’s really stressful running a nonprofit or being under the gun for making budget as a fundraiser, but setting yourself up for success begins with the public generally trusting that you are making a difference. Making sure you ARE trusted shouldn’t be complicated or anxiety ridden!

You’ve got this!



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