Has the meat truck come to your neighborhood yet?
The salesman rings your doorbell and says something like, “Hey, I was finishing up my restaurant deliveries for the day and I have some extra meat on the truck that I can sell at wholesale price.” If you’re not comfortable buying meat from the back of some random person’s truck, you have what is known as wisdom. You need vendors to have some level of credibility. Potential supporters also need some reassurance when they consider donating. Here are three simple ways you can increase your organization’s credibility that are surprisingly often ignored.
Have updated financial information available and easily accessible on your website. This can be in the form of an annual report, the Form 990, an infographic, or all of the above. Potential donors will feel much better about supporting your cause if they know what you’re doing with donations. If you put this information in an easy to find place on your website it tells them that you are confident and proud of the way you steward gifts. An annual report or infographic is preferable to the 990 because it frames the data better and tells the narrative (that you choose) of your organization. The 990 gives cold raw data, which can be difficult to interpret.
GuideStar has been around since 1996 and is the world’s largest source for information on non-profits (2.5 million). Many philanthropists use this service to research organizations. It has a four-tier rating system: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. The more information you provide, the higher your rating. It doesn’t take much time to do, so if your organization isn’t rated, it can be a red flag for a potential donor.
Non-profits are notorious for late or no responses to emails and calls. This is often due to a lack of any communication or administrative infrastructure. Regardless of the reason, you are hurting your mission. So make it a priority to respond to inquiries. You can delegate this responsibility but whatever the method, make communicating with supporters a priority.
You have a mission to change the world, just like the meat truck guy has a mission to make a profit. But don’t be like the meat truck guy and appear unprofessional and shady. You want your meat source to be trustworthy and professional. Donors want the same for their gifts.
“If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right” - Admiral William McRaven