Okay, you did it. You’ve finally turned that idea into a reality and started your own nonprofit. Great job! But the work is far from over. 

Donors are one of the most ― if not the most ― important parts of keeping your vision alive. One of your first priorities as a new nonprofit will be to get your vision out there and motivate some donors to get behind your cause. But in order to do that, you need people to trust you.

In the first few years of a nonprofit, it can be really tough because people don’t know anything about you yet. They don’t know if you’re legit, or trustworthy, or ― even if they do donate ― how you will handle your finances. Are they just donating to a lost cause that’ll be gone in a year? Or is this the beginning of a long, beneficial relationship between a donor and an organization?

Go with what you know

The best and easiest way to start building a donor base is to go with what you know (or who you know). Reach out to people in your circle ― close friends who you think would be interested in your cause as much as you are. People tend to flock to others that are most similar to them, so odds are, your friends will most likely be interested in your cause if you are.

It’s safe to ask the people closest to you. They already know you, so they’re more likely to trust you with their donations. This is where your social capital comes in handy ― meaning your amount of connections and their strength. If you already have friends in high places, it can be fairly easy to get your start. But for those of us without a golden rolodex, there are other ways to develop trust in your organization.

Start local

Your donors are more likely to be invested in your cause if it affects their community. Start finding the leaders in your community and ask for their help. Make sure you’re transparent with them. They should know what your goals are and where their money is going. It’s important to help them to see their donation as an investment in their community ― something that will help to create a better environment for everyone.

Create a mutually beneficial relationship

Make sure the donor knows what’s in it for them. Tailor your approach to their best interests and show them how it can be a win-win situation for both of you. One of the best ways to show that you respect and honor them is to show that you’re attentive to what they need from you in return. Don’t be afraid to go the extra mile for your donors. It will make all the difference in the long run.

Show that you care

It’s crucial that you make your passion for the cause known, but donors are more willing to give when they know you care about them as well. Invest in getting to know them. Meet with them in person, or call them instead of endless email chains. Thank them for any donation you receive and tell them stories of how it helped you. Thanking your donors and communicating their impact to them will make them more inspired to trust your organization and continue giving.

Start relationships, and keep them.

Set up your donor relationships to be continuous. Make sure they know that you would appreciate their support as a long-time donor, and that their donation would be directly making an impact. But don’t just tell them this ― involve your donors in the whole process. Full transparency and involvement can make those influential donors want to keep coming back.