Strategies for Success

Honesty is the Best Fundraising Policy

When an anticipated gift doesn’t come through, or the gift isn’t as large as expected, it’s natural to be disappointed. Disappointment is normal, but one of the best remedies is honesty with yourself and team: “I really thought the foundation would give more. But, let’s find out what we can do better next time.” Honesty is a key for unlocking future potential. The following are just a few reasons why:

Honesty fosters trust and deepens relationships
The leader needs to be honest with the board and team about expectations. The development team members need to be honest with the leader about their approach and outcomes. And everyone needs to be honest with donors. As donors understand and respect your culture of transparency, they will be more open and honest with you, as well: “We wanted to do more, but our current circumstances are…”

Honesty builds the brand and reputation
Better to be honest, upfront, versus disappointed and defensive in the end. When a nonprofit is recruiting staff or new board members, it is especially important to be transparent. If the organization has experienced struggles with finances or membership, let the potential board or staff member know. During campaigns, be honest in negotiating deadlines and expectations. Rather than automatically saying, “yes” or exaggerating successes, your honesty will boost your reputation in the long run.

Honesty brings greater potential for success
Eventually, board, staff, volunteers and donors will know when you are being honest (or not). Honesty can make you feel more vulnerable, but in the end, an honest leader will always prevail. Donors will trust you to receive their transformational gifts. With high levels of honesty,  the organization’s reputation will be strengthened, and you will lead your team with greater integrity and success.

Tammy Butterfield

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