A recent survey of wealthy individuals again confirms this sad fact. The new WealthSurvey, conducted by the New York City-based Luxury Institute in association with Charles Maclean, donor advocate and founder of PhilanthropyNow, reveals that one of the primary reasons affluent individuals do not contribute to certain nonprofits is that they distrust those organizations.
Some 56 percent of those surveyed mentioned this issue with only 35 percent saying that they believe that nonprofits would use their donations wisely.
How can you avoid being on that list of distrusted nonprofits? Here are some resolutions for a trustworthy future:
- Develop a unit within your organization that focuses on thanking donors and keeping them happy. It is not enough to just send out an acknowledgement. Donors must be well informed and reminded frequently that they are important to you. If possible, provide a hot line that donors can call and have it staffed 24 hours a day. Yes, that means having someone on call around the clock but it is worth it.
- Make sure that all of your paperwork is up-to-date. Nothing turns off a donor more than finding that tax records are not available or that they are out-of-date when they look you up at the major nonprofit tracking sites such as Give.org, GuideStar.org, or CharityNavigator.org. In addition, have those documents readily available at your office. That means that the receptionist doesn't say "Huh?" when asked about them, or the office doesn't have to be turned upside down to find them.
- Even though nonprofits are not required to publish an annual report, do it anyway. It is necessary to your professional image and provides another avenue to keep your donors informed.
- Respond quickly and efficiently to each inquiry from a donor or a potential donor. If you invite people to contact you through your website, have a staff member assigned to respond immediately. Also, provide plenty of ways for people to contribute...through your site, at your office, through the mail, or at their homes and offices. There is nothing sadder than a potential donor who wants to give but cannot find anyone to talk to. Unfortunately, this happens all too often, even at large institutions with hundreds on their development staffs.
- If bad news about your organization appears in the media, consider your donors your most important audience. Get to them quickly with the facts, and reassure them that you have things under control.
- Keep your financial house in order and make sure that most of your donor dollars go right into programs. Let your donors know that you are using their money wisely.
- Use credible and cost-effective ways to solicit donations. Look as professional as possible. People may buy products from you or frequent your bake sales, but that is not where the big money goes. Only the Girl Scouts can raise millions through cookies, and only the Salvation Army can get by with bells and change pots. Use smart, well-organized fundraising techniques to convince donors that you know what you are doing.
As businesses have learned the hard way, customer service is king, and a good reputation is mandatory to even be in the game. The same is true...perhaps even more so...for nonprofits. Spend some quality time as the new year dawns to look hard at your organization through the eyes of your donors and prospective donors, and make your New Year Resolutions come true.
More ways to be trustworthy: