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How Not for Profits Can Build Trust and Boost Donations

5 July 2018 at 7:20 am
Andrew Cairns
Community Sector Banking CEO Andrew Cairns offers three things not for profits can do to build trust and donations.

Andrew Cairns | 5 July 2018 at 7:20 am


How Not for Profits Can Build Trust and Boost Donations
5 July 2018 at 7:20 am

Community Sector Banking CEO Andrew Cairns offers three things not for profits can do to build trust and donations.

Chat to a not-for-profit leader about challenges and one big one always crops up: how can we maintain donor trust and support in a hyper competitive funding market, when trust for institutions is plunging?

It’s obvious why it’s a concern. Australian not for profits are tackling substantial complex crises: rising inequality, increased homelessness, and domestic violence to name but a few. Long-term support and funding is vital.

But in a world of fake news and tightening purse strings, can not for profits build trust and boost donations? Absolutely. Here’s one approach I encourage all not for profits to take.

Embrace data

Not for profits have never had so much data at their fingertips as they do today. Unfortunately, few are making the most of it. Tracking reliable data is the first step to becoming more transparent and accountable – which are the foundations for public trust.

Mindsets may need to change. Data shouldn’t be seen as a burden, and it needn’t detract from charitable activity. Rather, it should demonstrate the impact not for profits are making. The value provided both for the most disadvantaged, as well as the broader value of stronger communities and economic benefits.

But we must be careful to remember that “data is not wisdom”. You must take the time to analyse and truly understand the information that your donors are telling you.

Improve reporting

The next step to building trust is to improve reporting. There’s no point tracking all that data if you don’t show it to your donors and potential supporters. Particularly when people want more detail. A 2013 Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) survey found 90 per cent wanted to know how their donations were used.

The digital world offers many ways to improve reporting – infographics can make data interesting, so too can integrating data with video for your website or social media.

Make donating easier

Lastly, while we’re on the topic of bitcoin, not for profits need to broaden the opportunities for people to donate – donating needs to be as easy as possible. Consider who your donors are today. Some may be wedded to postal donations. Younger generations are always online and rarely carry change.

Not for profits need to offer everything from postal, phone and online donations to smarter ways to donate on the street. For example, our Donation Tap Points – used for the Salvation Army’s Red Shield Appeal Doorknock Weekend – enabled donations with a simple tap of a credit or debit card.

The fact is, long-term strategy is vital to solve the challenges not for profits are tackling and for that, you need long-term funding. It’s time to embrace technology to improve transparency, accountability, make donating easier – and ultimately, increase your impact.

For more information see:

Andrew Cairns  |  @ProBonoNews

Andrew Cairns is the CEO of Haven Home Safe, a homelessness organisation that specialises in social and affordable housing solutions. Prior to joining Haven, he held several senior management roles including more than 19 years with the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Group and almost five years as CEO of Community Sector Banking.

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