Painting a rosy picture when presenting a project is tempting when you are talking to donors.
Your days are spent laser-focused on goals you’ve set and you know your donors are rooting for too. It’s easy however to get caught up in the image of what will be and lose sight of reality. It’s a frame of mind needed to get a difficult task done, but when you present your vision, communicate where your project stands to retain a healthy donor relationship.
What Happens When You Make Honesty a Cornerstone
Honesty and integrity are two of the fundamental principles of great leadership. In fundraising activities, these characteristics take on another level of importance, as donors are choosing to believe in your mission and financially support the important projects that will turn your goals into reality. By providing a realistic, honest accounting of your work you will reinforce their impression of your success and what can be accomplished, leaving them with the feeling that the information you are presenting isn’t just marketing to gain funding, but it’s proof of your responsibility as an advocate and you are effective in your work.
Honesty is the secret ingredient to a long-term reputation building, potential fundraising from one-time and long-term donors, and increases your promotional reach effortlessly.
It achieves more than just fundraising goals. Donors who have accurate information gain a deeper understanding of how important their support is to meeting your goals. They are buoyed by successes and motivated to give when challenges arise. Over time, they will watch as milestones are reached and their faith in your information may lead them to spread the word to more potential donors.
The Effects of Dishonesty
In contrast, is the temptation to present your donors with only the best version of your activities or pad the less than stellar results, but you will never find your advantage in a dishonest message. The shine you attempt to apply to bad news will eventually wear off and undoubtedly cast a shadow on your nonprofit’s reputation that could last for years.
Lying or presenting deceitful evidence to your donors may, at best, set unrealistic expectations that undermine their trust, and, at worst, affect their decision whether or not to support your mission. Your donors can’t read minds, but they can make assumptions, and when their expectations aren’t met you could find yourself on the slippery slope of having to explain the outcome. With integrity and honesty as a leading policy, your organization will be prepared to offer the authenticity, sincerity, and accessibility donors expect. And, lies are always hard to maintain, as new information will refute the “facts” you’ve presented. Over time, these small lies will act as subtle cues that will create a feeling of doubt in your leadership.
Trust in fundraising is, without a doubt, the foundation on which a nonprofit’s reputation grows. So, believe in your goals and present a realistic view of the highs and lows you experience when you go before your donors. After all, honesy is always the best policy!