Nonprofit or Going for Broke: Ways to Demonstrate Your Business is Legitimate & TrustworthyJuly 15th, 2011 | Small Business,Small Business Tips | No Comments »
As is the whole point of our business, we’ve talked a lot about the need for ecommerce and service businesses to prove trustworthiness via their websites. However, I now want to discuss how this issue concerns nonprofit organizations, such as charities.
People can often be just as wary of donating as they are of buying. It’s not all that uncommon for people to be scammed when they only want to further some cause. However, this hurts more than the people who buy into the scams; it hurts the overall reputation of nonprofits in general. As a result, people become wary and less willing to help out a new or unknown group.
Just like any other trust-based scenario, this problem can be alleviated by taking precautions when creating your nonprofit organization.
Let Them Know Who You Are
One of the important things that continues to be essential is letting visitors to your nonprofit’s website know who your management team is. Let’s face it: if you don’t want anyone to know who you are, then you probably shouldn’t be a part of a group that deals with asking for donations. Potential donors know this and it will be that much harder to demonstrate trust.
Of course, this issue goes farther than putting a few names on your site. How can donors know the listed person even exists, let alone an entire management team? Provide your emails and phone numbers so that people can contact you with questions instead of relying solely on an ‘About Us’ page. Although this sounds so obvious that it seems strange for me to bother mentioning it, the simple touches are often the most consequential. Nonprofits are thought of as caring and helpful, so you need to provide that personal touch. If you don’t, people will wonder why they are being asked to donate money to a nameless, faceless identity and back out.
Show Them the Money
Another, more unique form of information that you should provide in your nonprofit’s website is transaction data. In this blog post, the author accurately describes the issue of real and fake charities:
“You can set up a real charity using the exact same methods. The difference: a fake charity never does anything with its cash except deposit it in the bank account of the person who started the charity. A real charity reports where their money has gone, and is accountable for its expenditures to a board of directors.”
It’s obvious that false groups will take donations and deposit them into their own pockets. After all, a fake group certainly won’t give to it’s supposed “cause.” You need to realize that people can’t always take you at your word and will want to see where their money is going. If you can show current and potential donors where donations are being distributed, they’ll be far more likely to believe in you.
License and Registration, Please
Although everyone hates to fill out forms, your nonprofit can use it to your advantage in more than the standard sense. Form 990, which is an essential IRS form for nonprofits, can and should be utilized as a source of trust-building. Since the IRS needs this form to certify that your organization is in fact a nonprofit, potential donors will look for it as a source of recognizing your legitimacy. If you can, show it on your website. If you can’t, then be prepared to present it when asked!
We all like to take each other by our words, but it’s difficult when scamming gets in the way. However, if you can take advantage of these three tips, you are on the way to demonstrating that your nonprofit really is what it claims. Get into the donor’s shoes: what would you like to see as proof of legitimacy? If anyone has some suggestions, I more than welcome them. Share your thoughts so everyone can benefit!