A great magician never reveals his or her secrets. Is your nonprofit like a dazzling magical act in your community? Are you doing all sorts of good for all sorts of people and keeping it to yourself? Let me give you one more trick to put up your sleeve: transparency. Being transparent with your donors may sound like a no-brainer, but all too often it goes by the wayside.
What do your donors really know about your nonprofit? Do they know where their money goes and what good it does? Transparency is one of the most powerful tools a nonprofit has. It helps personalize your organization by positioning it in an open and honest way, and allows donors to increasingly relate to your cause and champion for your nonprofit. After all, how are donors supposed to brag about your work if they don’t know exactly what it is that you do?
Why transparency is important
Transparency means that you are open to the public and donors about your organization’s operations and goals. When you let people know what your mission is and how you are working towards it, they are more likely to engage with it.
Donors look to sites like CharityNavigator, which rate the accountability of a nonprofit, before they donate to it. Take a look at their guidelines for tips on what it means to be a transparent nonprofit.
What transparency entails
Transparency also means disclosing who benefits from donations, how much the donations are worth and exactly how and when the donations are raised and dispersed. Opening this door between your nonprofit and those willing to fund it allows for an open, honest relationship they’re willing to continue because they know exactly where their money is going.
To be transparent with your constituency, you first have to dismiss any fears that they might have. Sometimes this includes telling them things they don’t want to hear. We’ve spoken before about the “overhead myth” that exists surrounding the nonprofit sector. Organizations must address that part of achieving their mission is paying employees, coordinating events and spending money on marketing materials in order to keep the operation running.
Next, you have to make sure your newsletters, email updates and blog posts include a rundown of where your funds are going. Classy suggests being specific as well—let your donors know the impact of their donations so they can see the direct results.
Another element to transparency is remembering to thank your donors. Whether it be a handwritten thank you note or simply replying to a Tweet, interacting with the public gives your organization a human element. When people have something they can relate to, it makes them feel more comfortable trusting you.
So tell your donors where their money goes and what it goes toward. Take to social media and post all the good your nonprofit is able to do thanks to the donors who make it all possible. You don’t have to humble brag, but patting yourself on the back is just fine every now and then.
Every great magician has a great sidekick. Your donors are ready for the show to go on and the more transparent you are, the more donors will be on stage right along with you for your next act.