Y our fundraising may be tied more closely to your organizational values than you realize. Your donors don’t learn your values from your website or your mailings; instead, they learn your values from your actions. All organizations, but especially nonprofits, must own and demonstrate certain universal values. These fundamental values revolve around honesty. In order to attract their funds, donors must believe that you can and will do with their money what you tell them you will. Increasingly, donors expect accountability and transparency to complement honesty. In other words, it is no longer enough to do what you say you’ll do, but you are now expected to document and demonstrate that you’ve done what you said you would. The growing trend toward crowdfunding demonstrates this principle. Crowdfunding campaigns are generally smaller, project- focused efforts, sometimes led by individuals rather than organizations. Donors are attracted to the opportunity to give to a specific project with a finite scope, led by an individual they can identify and likely know. Such projects are designed with transparency as a principle from the outset. The project backers are typically kept informed of the project’s status all through the fundraising phase and then throughout the execution of the project, often receiving updates including photos and videos via email and social media. Having adopted these fundamental values of honesty, transparency and accountability, you must then demonstrate values consistent with your cause or mission. For religious organizations, it is important to put faith first, consistent with your doctrine so that donors
showing up demonstrates his passion for actually housing families in need in ways that words will never be able to. Beware that irrelevant values may create noise or problems in fundraising. No matter how strongly you feel about values that are irrelevant to your cause or mission, there is no need for those to be part of the institutional value set. For instance, your personal values around family planning are likely deeply held, but unless you work for an organization doing adoptions or family planning, building this value into your organization may simply create distractions. Your donors will appreciate your values by your actions. You’ll communicate your transparency by providing clear reporting on your use of their donations. You’ll demonstrate your commitment to your cause and values over time by driving consistent impact and reporting consistently about it. By making your mission more important than asking for money, you’ll get more. Devin Thorpe focuses on helping those doing good in the world. Author, advisor, Forbes contributor, keynote speaker, emcee, and trainer. Devin’s latest book is Crowdfunding for Social Good, Financing Your Mark on the World .
recognize the integrity of your mission and can, in turn, have faith in you and your organization. An organization focused on building schools and educating children must be imbued with a focus on learning, education and children’s rights. An organization that advocates for democracy around the world would need to demonstrate internal values in favor of free speech and democratic organizational processes, internally and externally, so that donors see and experience your commitment to democracy. One of the most common inconsistencies donors see and are turned off by are organizations that advocate for diversity and decry hate speech, that then vilify those who may have reasonable disagreements with them, sometimes using the same sort of language they have criticized in others to describe those who disagree with their principles. Donors recognize that hypocrisy and clutch their wallets. If you preach tolerance, you must tolerate as well as you expect to be tolerated. Jimmy Carter has been a role model for communicating the values of Habitat for Humanity for decades, showing up hammer- in-hand to work side-by-side with other volunteers to help build homes, not just making celebrity appearances and allowing his likeness to be used for fundraising. His