how to get your donors to trust you – and give more

Donor Trust in Organizations – Its Importance and How to Earn It

Donors give to organizations they trust and don’t give to organizations they don’t trust. Donors give a lot to organizations they trust a lot, and give a little, or nothing, to organizations they trust a little.

So this matter of donor trust is a big deal. That’s why the Better Business Bureau’s researched and published a report on the topic. See

What convinces donors to trust an organization?

1.    Third-party evaluations (36%). Donors extend more trust to organizations who have the outcomes of their work assessed by outside research and evaluation companies.

2.    Name recognition (34%). Donors extend more trust to organizations they have heard of.

3.    The organizations’ own reports of what they have accomplished (30%). Donors extend more trust to organizations that have done a lot of good things and tell people about it.

4.    Financial ratios (19%). Donors extend more trust to organizations who spend more of their money on delivering programs and less of their money on fundraising and administration. This one has shifted. In 2017, 35% of donors highlighted this one; in 2020 it dropped to 19%.

The study also found that donors who place “high importance” on trust are more likely to give, and tend to give larger donations.


1.    Have your work evaluated by a third party (shameless plug: yeah, I do that).

2.    Consider how to get your name out there more widely. Think about how to get a wider circle of people to know you exist.

3.    Accomplish a lot of good things and then do a good job of effectively communicating that. Talk about accomplishments, not just activities.

4.    Watch those financial ratios. Keep fundraising and administrative costs low. (This is actually a controversial point these days. I will say more in future Little Newsletters. Watch this space).

love, joy, peace … Michael Michael is a freelance consultant to nonprofits, with an emphasis on research. Contact him for a free, one-hour consultation.

Vol. 1 No. 30