How do I build trust with potential online donors?

If you’re reading a blog about online fundraising, there’s a good chance you’ve partaken in some form of corporate team building. One of the most common tropes of such events is the “trust fall”. This is when we turn our backs to our teammates, close our eyes, and fall backwards into their arms. We are trusting they will not let any harm come to us.

Pro tip: always make sure everyone is crystal clear on the order of ceremonies before you partake in a trust fall. Otherwise… you have trust and you have a fall… but you don’t have a trust fall.

All that being said, here is the foundational assumption to begin with: giving is an act of trust.

Jeff Giddens of NextAfter says, “Donating money to a nonprofit is a completely irrational behavior. Why would you give your hard-earned money to an organization and get nothing in return? Because you trust that they will use it to do something that matters to you.”

And so begins the ongoing challenge of the fundraiser: building trust. And one of the essential tools at your disposal is what is called your value proposition.

To get to the heart of your value proposition, start by answering this question: “If I am your ideal donor, why should I give to you rather than some other organization, or no one at all?”

The value proposition is the essence of your mission. Your email campaigns, your website, and your donation pages are simply a means of communicating this essence.

Ultimately, it’s not a donation form that persuades a donor to give. Rather, it is a clearly articulated value proposition.

And so when you communicate, it’s not about being persuasive — it’s about being clear.

Clarity trumps persuasion. When you have a good value proposition, clarity is persuasion.

When you think about online fundraising, it’s easy to get wrapped up in technology and optimization. But never forget: giving is not about completing a donation form.

Giving is an act of trust.

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