Fundraising Reading Round-Up
Fundraising reading round-up

Trust - a fundraiser's best friend?

Trust in UK charities has taken a battering over the last couple of weeks after a series of damaging articles about the pay of senior executives in large charities*. 

I've had three comments from concerned donors asking where their money goes, so I imagine some of the charities named have had hundreds, and possibly thousands, of questions from donors who are considering stopping their giving.

It's a difficult situation, but the charities that will come out best from the situation are those that have built the trust of their donors.

Trust is something we've been looking at closely in my charity recently and I've been studying Stephen M R Covey's book The Speed of Trust, which looks at how individuals and organisations build (and lose) trust.

According to Covey, there are four cores that are essential to gaining trust:

  1. Integrity
  2. Intent
  3. Capabilities
  4. Results

So how do these apply to fundraisers?


How transparent and honest are you in your dealings with donors? Do you 'walk the talk' and act in accordance to the values and beliefs you and your organisation set? Do you report back honestly to donors and are they clear what you stand for as an organisation?


Are your motives straightforward and based on mutual benefit? For example, how many of your 'thank you' interactions with donors are actually asks for further money? Does your behaviour betray your intent? For example, nearly all charities say they respect their donors and listen to them (the right intent) but often the behaviour, such as wrongly addressed mail, ignoring requests etc undermines this.


These are the abilities you have that inspire confidence - your talents, attitudes, skills, knowledge, and style. You use these to produce results. For example, are you constantly looking to improve and learn as a fundraiser?


This is the track record of you as a fundraiser and your organisation. Do you feedback to donors on what their gifts have achieved?  It's no good having the relevant integrity, intent and capability if you don't make a difference.

Trust is much easier to lose than gain and I'd highly recommend the book if you are interested in learning more. In the near future, I'll look at the thirteen behaviours that Covey identifies as building trust.

*For a great summary of the recent controversy I recommend this article by Becky Slack.