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Fundraising Tip: Be Transparent

Donors really want to know how things are going.

Fundraising is all about relationships.

Transparency is a key element of a good relationship.

There are some in nonprofit leadership who believe that so called dirty laundry should not be shared with donors; that we should only share good news with donors.

Good impact.

Everything is good.

The problem with this is that it’s not always the case. Nonprofits have struggles in carrying out their missions. It’s not easy work. And although the impact the nonprofit has is overall positive, there are many things that can happen that take a toll on the team and the mission.

People donate to a nonprofit as a form of making the world a better place. For many, your nonprofit is part of their hearts and souls.

They want to know about everything.

I will go even as far as saying that they especially want to hear about your struggles, mistakes, and lessons learned while impacting the world.

One example of this is the unfortunate news of a foundation grant that you have counted on not being award to your organization.

There are many reasons why you counted on it, and for whatever reason it isn’t going to happen. I say this because in most cases, the homework was done. Putting this amount of money in your budget was the right thing to do, based on all you know.

Now there is no money for this program, not only for this year but also for next year.

In some cases, this can be absorbed into the budget. In a worse scenario, the program is affected and staff have to be laid off.

This is one of those stories some would say not to share with donors. I say share. Not as a “we’re in trouble if you don’t help right now” case, rather to simply keep your donors up to date with what is going on in the organization.

This can be part of a regular communication, like a newsletter. It can also be a separate email with a link to the story on your website.

No matter how you share it, the important thing is to share it.

Your donors want to know.

Take a risk. Be of service. Support your friends and colleagues. Be kind.

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