It occurs to me that in a major way, we’re in the business of building relationships. This was brought home to me the other day. I was asked to give a speech on relationships and building trust in fundraising.
As I worked on the speech, I kept coming up with the fact that relationships are built on trust. It confirmed for me that trust is an essential element of building a relationship— bonded in the heart of both.
Here are some important thoughts to build trust:
- If you can’t believe the messenger, you can’t believe the message. It’s as simple as that.
- Listening shows how interested you are in the other person and how much you care. Listening is the greatest compliment you can pay a person.
- Return all phone calls immediately. If you call my office and I’m not able to answer, the message you’ll hear is: “If I don’t return the call in 48 hours, I’ll buy you lunch.”
- Promise much, but do what you say you’ll do.
- Eschew e-mail. Your donors receive a hundred a day— some more than that. There’s nothing memorable. Send thank you notes and write letters. (You do remember what a letter is!)
- Handle complaints promptly and with empathy and honesty. Your job isn’t to beat down the complaint, your task is to turn it into a yes. Give the person more and more of what they want and you will get more and more of what you want.
- Offer great service— exceed expectations.
- Show sincere appreciation. Often!
- Become a valued resource to the donor.
- 10 Make regular stewardship calls when you are not asking for a gift.
- Partner with the donor for a special event, a choice activity, a select activity.
- Create a relationship, not a donation.
- Do something special that is not expected.
- Do all these things and you’ll have gained a binding relationship with your donor.
Building a relationship is a spiritual acknowledgement that one discovers when you find out the person has a mutual regard for you. If you build on trust, the gift will come. Above everything else, seek trust.