Honestly, trust matters. It always matters.
But when you’re a non-profit organization, you trust those who offer support. You have to, you’re not making money as a for-profit does, you are depending on the shared interests and passions of philanthropic individuals and organizations to help you reach your goals and accomplish your mission.
And sometimes we are disappointed. Sometimes it’s our own fault, we didn’t do our due diligence. Sometimes our trust is naively misplaced. And sometimes we are simply too trusting.
Non-profits need to live within their means, just like everyone else. We aren’t supposed to count the chickens before they hatch, but we often do. We have to: at our events we receive pledges from our donors (to be mailed in the future), in corporate meetings we accept the promise of support in Q3 (or some time period in the future). And we adjust our budgets accordingly. This is not the ideal practice, but in our not-for-profit world it’s more likely to happen than not.
Supporters need to follow through, with their pledged donations, with their promised sponsorships, with their offer to donate to an organization from an event they are hosting…and they usually do. And most often, if they cannot follow through, they let us know way ahead of time – because they understand the reality of running a non-profit organization. They know that every (promised) dollar counts. And they also know that a responsible non-profit will multiply every dollar received through strategic partnerships.
Responsible donors are as disappointed if they can’t follow through as the non-profit is. They want to help however they can. They often offer something else – a delayed payment, another opportunity, a different way of providing support. We love our donors, no question about it.
Without our supporters, non-profits could not exist, we could not function. We appreciate their commitment and passion for our mission. We know that they share our vision and that makes them part of our non-profit family. We depend on them for input and resources. We value them.
And yes, when a promised pledge does not come through, it hits us hard. But if we have a head’s up, if the donor is honest with us…trust is not lost. And we regroup and press forward.
Non-profit organizations build on trust, and they should be built on trust. Both the organization and the supporters are part of this equation. Without this mutual trust and shared vision and responsibility, a non-profit organization will crumble and the supporters will disappear. It takes both to make a successful non-profit organization.
Trust is a two-way street. Let’s make sure we are keeping our promises and earning the appreciation and trust we deserve, both as organizations and supporters.
Jean Krisle is the Founder & Executive Director of 10,000 Beds, Inc, a national 501c3 non-profit organization connecting individuals battling a substance use disorder with vetted addiction/recovery programs through treatment scholarships. A nationally certified recovery coach, life coach and motivational keynote speaker, Jean helps organizations and individuals discover, develop and cultivate powerful leaders, goal-driven teams, and mindful individuals.