Trust and Transparency (The Miffed Moggy Method)

I’ve not managed to write a blog post in the past week, I’ve been busy. Of course at work I’m trying to mop up the financial fug that seems to always occur round about the first week in April but that’s not it. This week I’ve been busy building trust.

Yep, the word that any social media geek or blog reader worth their salt is bound to have come across in the last while – trust. This has been a hard week because the trust I’ve been building is a trust I used to have and lost – the trust of my ever so nervous little cat, Zebedee (yes showing my age I was a huge Magic Roundabout fan as a child). Zebedee decided that, as I was the person to take her and bring her home from her holiday at the cattery, I am no longer trustworthy and therefore should not be allowed out of the front door without a fight.

Every night for over a week I’ve been working hard to win back the trust of an unforgiving feline and finally I feel like I might be getting somewhere. All this hard work got me thinking though – do we make this effort in our working life – do I? I think that working in the non-profit sector there is an assumption of trust that perhaps there is not in the corporate sector, therefore businesses have to work harder to build this relationship of trust with their customers, at least the good ones do. In the non-profit sector we assume to a certain extent that because we are working for a cause rather than for shareholder profits we don’t have to work so hard to build that relationship of trust. We’re not out for money, we’re working for a good cause so what’s not to trust – right?

Hmmmm, wrong! In a climate where donors are asking for more and more accountability from charities, where they want to be able to decide what projects their money is going to and to see what good it has done, it’s only getting more important to build a relationship of trust. Lets face it as donors we’d love to be able to feel a connection with a specific project, to be able to make a direct difference to a certain person or group. Some of the bigger charities can even afford to give their donors this added “feel good factor” – check out Cancer Research UK’s website where you can pick what project your money goes to, but what about the smaller charities?

Some charities can’t afford this luxury and in these cases it pays to work hard at building that relationship of trust with donors, after all if every donor restricts their donation to a specific project you could find that some projects don’t receive enough funds to survive or that you have no unrestricted funding and therefore no way to pay overheads and salaries, which are a necessity to allow service provision.

Build that relationship of trust with your donors and they’ll feel comfortable knowing that you’ll use their money for good. More than ever before we have the tools at our fingertips which allow us to speak to our donors on a regular basis and to tell them our stories, the stories of the people we help. These tools are available to everyone, even the smallest of non-profits, and at very little cost so more and more non-profits are realising the benefits. I’m trying to keep up with all the various ways that non-profits are connecting with donors with so that I can implement some of them at Waverley Care but, like winning back the trust of a miffed moggy, it takes time and hard work. I think its a worthwhile task as I believe that telling your story and letting your service users tell theirs is a great way to connect with donors and help them to feel more involved in the work you do, ultimately building a relationship based on transparency and trust.

What methods are you using to build a relationship with donors?

Photo credit: notsogoodphotography

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