How Charities Can Build Trust and Confidence with Their Supporters


Creative and Strategic Director - Passionate about working with charities to ensure effective communication with users, supportes and other stakeholders.
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Creative and Strategic Director - Passionate about working with charities to ensure effective communication with users, supportes and other stakeholders.

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Concerns about how charities spend their money are felt widely, not just by those whose trust has declined but by more than half of the public. As people don’t know how charities are run and managed, this makes them question the decisions that charities make and whether their donations are actually getting to where they are supposed to go at all.

To help your charity build trust and confidence with your supporters, here’s a quick guide to the main reasons for distrust in the sector and what you can do to address them.

What drives trust in the charity sector?

Many studies have been undertaken to determine the reasons for a decline in the public trust and confidence when it comes to charitable giving and the findings have shown that trust is driven by five key drivers:

  1. Ensuring that a reasonable proportion of donations make it to the end cause
  2. Making a positive difference to the cause that they are working for
  3. Making independent decisions to further the cause that they work for
  4. Ensuring that its fundraisers are honest and ethical
  5. Running a well-managed charity

A lot of distrust when it comes to charities and charity spending is a result of negative media stories or the pressure tactics that charities use to elicit donations (e.g. street fundraising) as it makes people feel very uncomfortable. These are the most common reasons for losing confidence in the charity sector followed by not knowing where their money goes and feeling like charities spend too much of their funds on salaries and administration.

7 ways charities can build trust and confidence with their supporters

Trust and confidence are essential to the successful running of a charity as no trust means no donations and no donations mean no money for the cause or to go towards running the charity to raise more money for the cause.

As trust and confidence is such a big driver for support, charities need to make building trust and reassuring their supporters one of their top priorities. Here are 7 ways that you can do that:

  1. Ensure that your charity has good financial management as spending is public information in the charity sector.
  2. Have a strong fundraising strategy that actively helps/benefits your cause so people know how their money is helping.
  3. Provide services within your local community as familiarity builds trust (70% of people donate to charities that they know/have heard of).
  4. Focus on communication as this builds a connection with your supporters. Something as simple as sending an email update on how their money helped the cause can work wonders.
  5. Educate people on the broad range of activities that you offer that benefit the community (e.g charity-run youth clubs etc).
  6. Show them the impact that you are making. If you have facts, figures, photos or videos, share them on your social media and website. The more transparent that you can be about how your donations are making a positive difference, the better.
  7. Help to improve public belief in charities and to rectify negative public relations to fundraising by giving the public as much information as you can about the positives.

The public still values charity

The vast majority of the public think that charities are positive, they think that they have a positive impact on society and that they care about their cause. This doesn’t change the fact that they don’t trust them though; they don’t know where their money is going and negative media coverage is fuelling this mistrust when it comes to the lack of transparency. When this is combined with aggressive fundraising techniques, people can default to not donating at all.

It is far harder to gain the confidence of the public than to lose it, so using these 7 tips, charities should be focusing on being open about their progress and building trust with their supporters by showing them how they can make a positive impact on their cause together.

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