Frankly My Dear, I Don't Trust You
In Gone With the Wind, Rhett Butler utters a variation of these words when he leaves Scarlett on her Atlanta doorstep at the novel's end. Any chance some of your potential donors think the same thing about you? What does it take for someone to give you money to translate it into a community good that they may never be able to confirm? A great deal of trust. Trust is fundamental to nonprofit work. Trust is the grout in brick foundation of your relationships. To work with nonprofits, people must trust you. This issue shares ways to build trust and some signs that you have successfully created it.
Karen's Ten Trust Building Fundamentals
How can you build a trust account with others? Be unfailingly trustworthy. Here's how:
1. Be Predictable. Apply discipline, good notes and organization. If you promise to follow-up, do so. Little things count. If you mention that you will provide the name of your web designer and fail to note it or act on it, while readily accepted as an oversight, their trust in you shrinks.
2. Be Hyper-Vigilant About Money. If an exchange involves money, predictability is even more critical. When a donor gives you a gift of $25-they risk $25. If you respond with a thank you and the appreciation they deem appropriate, this increases the chance that they will continue the relationship and expose themselves to more risk, i.e. give you more dollars. If you obtain a grant and fail to submit a report, do you think the donor will trust you again?
3. Balance. Seek to offer quid pro quo value. Consider how can you provide equal or greater value in exchanges. When we lived in the Bahamas aboard a sailboat we met the Kane's. We enjoyed sharing meals and visits. My marine biologist spouse offered them oodles of good seafood. The Kane's reported frustration that they couldn't pay us back more-which was their intent in all their relationships. We trusted them more for their efforts. If you only think about what a donor can do for you-you're out of balance.
4. Be Vulnerable and Transparent. Be WYSIWYG. Be upfront about your agenda. (BTW--People will find out anyway.) Recognize the difference between fibbing, "Last year was fabulous" vs. truth told in context, "Last year was challenging but we added three new activities this year to improve things." Request feedback. Listen, adopt and change, as appropriate.
5. Language. Words help or hinder trust. Be diplomatic, gracious and generous, especially about those who are not in the room. Call donor's "partners." Remember to include friends, donors and the community in your "we." "What can we do together? What ideas do you have for our partnership?" "How can we help you to meet your goal?"
6. Knowledgeable. Learn enough to speak with confidence. Engage trusted advisers, like associations, libraries, and consultants. For planned giving, gather an advisory group of a lawyer, insurance specialist and financial adviser.
7. Respect. Respect confidences. No one should hear what they told you in private -publically. Show appropriate behavior (it should go without saying, but I heard the suggestion again last month) if you meet or write to Bill Gates, or anyone else do not ask him for a million dollars on your first encounter.
8. Deliver Consistent Results. Close the gap between your intentions and your behavior. If I can't trust you to deliver, why pursue a relationship where we both need results?
9. Invest. Invest time. Like physical exercise, trust requires time up front to create high-quality long-term gains. Meet with people one-on-one to establish and grow relationships. Trust is built with one-to-one experience.
10. Trust Yourself. Avoid being overly anxious to please. Say no as appropriate. Confront actions in your relationships when they conflict with your values.
Signs of Trust: Trust Your Instincts
Generally, people will not tell you that they do not trust you. Instead, they offer a cordial smile, vague promises and beyond this-nothing. Likewise, they usually will not tell you that they do trust you. You must look for signs. What are common ones? Here are several that indicate trust account deposits.
· Specifics. Trust provides space for details. Look for specifics statements rather than vague and veiled comments. "We plan to give you 10 percent of our estate," shows more trust than "We will consider you in our will."
· Sharing Sensitive Information, possibly some that is unflattering about the speaker. "My family struggles with my commitment to your agency." You tell a foundation director that people who relapse after using your services challenge you.
· New Questions. Repeated questions around the same topic indicate stickiness and blocked communication. New questions indicate movement. David Berdish stated, "Trust equals speed."
· Words Match Behavior. "I'm really happy to see you," when it looks and feels sincere.
· Advice and Insight. They ask for a recommendation or your opinion.
· Optional Invitations. You visit with them in their home or eat with them beyond what is required for your work together. Take care here. They may like you-but not trust you. Trust is different from like.
· Sharing. They share the name and contact information of friends. They understand that you will honor their relationships.
Trust is essential to nonprofit organizations. Trust creates outcomes faster -and often allows for any outcomes at all. Yet, trust is a fragile hand-blown glass vase. One drop, it crashes to the floor and it is nearly impossible to repair to its original state. Trust is fundamental to nonprofit success. And, if your donors and others don't trust you now... what can you do? Build trust brick-by-brick with the ideas and concepts this article. "After all," as Scarlett concludes after Rhett's rejection, "Tomorrow is another day."