In speeches and mission statements, you often hear organizations boast about being transparent. But what does transparency mean to them, and are they actually doing it? In a time when internet misinformation runs rampant, being fully transparent can sometimes feel risky. But at the same time, there’s a higher level of distrust among the public, making transparency even more important to build that trust. In fact, studies have shown that 86% of Americans say transparency from businesses is more important than ever before.
Especially when it comes to donating money or paying membership dues, the people involved are entrusting your organization with their money, and they expect transparency in return for that. Not to mention, transparency can be of direct benefit to the organization itself – it forces your organization to be accountable to your donors and members, encouraging you to work harder to meet your goals and come out successful.
By being honest and forthcoming about how funds are being used and how you’re tracking on your goals, you’ll gain trust, resulting in long-term donations and renewed memberships. Here are four ways you can work toward greater transparency in your organization.
Predict Questions Your Audience May Have
Before you begin any fundraising or membership campaign, put yourself in your audience’s shoes. What would you want to know in order to give? What kinds of questions would you have? Make a list of these questions, and include their answers in your promotional content for the campaign. Include the answers to big ones in your main pitch content, and if need be, create a frequently asked questions document that can be easily found to answer more specific, extensive questions. By providing as much information upfront as possible, you’ll save yourself the time of answering questions individually and show your audience that you’re being thoughtful about transparency.
Be as Specific as Possible
Don’t stop at listing the name of the charity you’re working with or a vague description of what dues go toward. If you’re a nonprofit or partnering with one, be as specific as possible about the project, services or resources that the collected funds will provide. If you can, provide specific examples of what different dollar amounts donated can achieve.
Be clear about what your goals are for fundraising or membership, and what you’ll do once you achieve them. Let people know what your timeline is for achieving your goals, as well as when you expect the collected funds to be used.
Use Social Media
Social media is a great tool for increasing transparency and building trust with your audience. A recent study by Sprout Social reported that 81% of people believe social media has increased accountability for businesses. Social media is an ideal way to show real-time progress, provide more frequent updates and share stories about the people impacted by your initiative through photos and videos. It can help you build community support through hashtags and sharing as well. On social media platforms, you can easily interact directly with donors, members and other followers, answering questions as they come up and thereby increasing your transparency.
Report Back on Progress, More Times Than One
When it comes to reporting on your progress, don’t wait until it’s time to publish your annual report. Keep your stakeholders in the loop at a frequency that makes sense for your audience and situation. For example, it’s a good idea to allow donors or members to opt in to email updates specifically related to the project or initiative they contributed to. If you’re working on a short-term project, send more frequent updates – maybe once a week. However, if your project will take a year or more to complete, consider giving broader updates via email every couple of months.
You should tailor these emails directly to your donors or members, thanking them for their participation and the progress they’ve helped your organization achieve. When stakeholders are appropriately informed, they feel a part of the process and trust that you’re keeping them in the loop.
In short, improving your transparency does often take more effort, but it leads to long-term relationships, long-term trust, and long-term participation for your organization. Looking for more ways to boost membership and donations? Check out our other PRIME blogs, including 5 Digital Marketing Strategies to Help Nonprofits Fundraise.
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