Gaining the trust of supporters is extremely important for charities, being organisations which cannot run without the support and donations of the public.
This trust can also be especially difficult to gain, as money spent on donations does not return a tangible product in the same way it would if you bought something from a supermarket. Donors simply must trust that their money is going towards a good cause, and that it is making a meaningful impact in the world.
Although trust in charities is fairly high when compared to other sectors such as private business or politics(ref gov)1, the CAF UK giving report in 2019 found that trust in charities has significantly decreased since 2016, with less than half of the population reporting that they trust charities.2
Another publication has also show that there is often a perception that money from donations goes towards high salaries, well paid CEOs and expensive marketing campaigns, with little going towards helping the cause or the beneficiaries themselves.3
The gov.uk report on trust in charities in 2018 detailed the main worries for those who lack trust in charities. They found that they 3 main factors determining whether people would trust an organisation were whether they:
- Are transparent about where money goes
- Are true to their values
- Use their resources efficiently1
Trust is of vital importance to charities, since it has been shown that an increase or decrease in trust leads to an increase or decrease in donations to charity, and that trust is an important factor in whether people will be one-time or repeat donors.1
Therefore, it is essential that nonprofit organisations do everything they can to gain the trust of current and potential supporters. This trust can be increased through certain techniques such as the way you market your organisation and the information you make available to people.
Here are some suggestions which will help to improve the trust in your organisation and ultimately lead to more donations and support:
Storytelling is a powerful way to convey information about what your organisation achieves and will combat the worry that donations are not helping to make real change.
Keep people up to date with your progress and regularly show them success stories on your website, newsletters, or other mediums.
By seeing more tangible evidence of progress, people will trust that their money is not wasted with your organisation and will be more likely to support you in the future.
PROVIDE CLEAR AND SIMPLE INFORMATION
as well as telling stories, it is important to provide clear, simple and factual information about how donations are used.
As mentioned about, people worry that their money is not going directly to a cause, yet often will not bother to research this, or read things such as a charity’s annual report.3 Therefore it is important that you communicate your impact explicitly, and ensure that it is obvious. This can easily be achieved using your website and social media platforms.
TELL PEOPLE ABOUT YOUR REGULATORS
The gov.uk report in 2018 showed that the public tend to think that regulation of charities is effective, and people who had knowledge of the charity commission had higher levels of trust in charities.1
However, not everyone is aware of the charity commission or other regulators, with this information often hidden at the bottom of web pages.
Make it obvious to people that you are regulated, as well as exactly what that means; they will understand that your charity is a legitimate organisation and will be more trusting.
SHOW PEOPLE HOW YOUR ORGANISATION WORKS
Like with regulators, the general public do not have much knowledge of how charities work and how they operate behind the scenes.
Another way to alleviate the worry of how donations are being spent is to let people know that spending is public information in the charity sector.
Simply showing this openness and transparency will greatly increase trust in your brand, and more knowledge about the organisation will give donors a greater sense of control over their money.
Fundraising codes of practice should be followed by all organisations, but by following these rules, you can make sure that you are asking people for money in a way which makes you seem trustworthy.
For example, the guidelines state that ‘You must not continue to ask a person for support if that person clearly indicates…that they do not want to continue to speak to you.’
Pressure tactics make people uncomfortable, less trusting, and less likely to donate. Therefore, by following this code, you can fundraise in the most profitable way possible.
Once again, you should also make sure it is made clear to people through your marketing and communications that you are an organisation which will treat donors well.
You can find the code of fundraising practice here: https://www.fundraisingregulator.org.uk/code code of fundraising practice
MAKE YOURSELF FAMILIAR
Simply being aware of your organisation will make somebody more likely to trust and support you.4
People are more likely to support your non-profit if they have already heard your name, seen you on social media or seen you active in the community, because this sense of familiarity increases trust.
You can use social media and the power of the internet to improve your reach and the quantity of people who know your brand, so when you present people with a call to action, they will already know and trust your organisation.
- Gov.uk publication on trust in charities in 2018: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/723566/Charity_Commission_-_Trust_in_Charities_2018_-_Report.pdf
- https://nfpsynergy.net/building-trust-and-confidence-charities-what-should-sector-do-and-what-should-charities-do#downloads– 2012 nfp synergy – NUMBER 4 – nfpSynergy – BUILDING TRUST AND CONFIDENCE IN CHARITIES: WHAT SHOULD THE SECTOR DO AND WHAT SHOULD CHARITIES DO – September 2012
Fundraising regulator – https://www.fundraisingregulator.org.uk/code#:~:text=The%20Code%20of%20Fundraising%20Practice,code%2C%20rulebooks%20and%20legal%20appendices.&text=Changes%20to%20the%20code%20must%20be%20approved%20by%20the%20Fundraising%20Regulator’s%20board.
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