Are we doing enough to grow trust?
While we all know that trust can take years to build up and a moment to destroy, it’s not clear that we take the risk seriously enough. With the onset of Web 2.0, the risks of a scandal achieving a fatal momentum of its own (almost regardless of whether it is true or not) accelerate week by week. And a scandal in one charity will almost certainly infect all other charities.
And yet we fail to be transparent with our donors. We tend to only talk of the good stories, seldom, if at all, about the mistakes or worse that have occurred. Yet the evidence is that being honest about failings builds up trust in an organisation rather than reducing it. People are not stupid – they know that no organisation is perfect. So if we own up to failings, when a rumour starts which isn’t true, it’s much more likely that supporters will believe your denial.
There are organisations that have communicated major mistakes to their supporters and there is little evidence of a loss of support and often there is an increase in commitment – in one case a charity even owned up to a senior staff member embezzling £1m, the frank admission leading to a flood of donations.
So as a sector, we need to be honest about all that we do and not be frightened to tell our supporters.
nfpSynergy’s latest research also shows that the public trust charities more than anything other than the armed forces and the NHS – the main motivator of trust being the quality of fundraising. So again, it’s not enough to simply follow IoF guidelines in our fundraising – we should see those guidelines as something to consistently beat.
Losing trust could be catastrophic and certainly very expensive. Let’s take action now to build trust to ever higher levels – let’s end up more trusted than the armed forces!