Institute for Charitable Giving

blue rule

Building Trust

blue rule

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:

  1. If you can’t believe the messenger, you can’t believe the message. It’s as simple as that.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.”
  4. Promise much, but do what you say you’ll do.
  5. 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!)
  6. 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.
  7. Offer great service— exceed expectations.
  8. Show sincere appreciation. Often!
  9. Become a valued resource to the donor.
  10. 10 Make regular stewardship calls when you are not asking for a gift.
  11. Partner with the donor for a special event, a choice activity, a select activity.
  12. Create a relationship, not a donation.
  13. Do something special that is not expected.
  14. 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.


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