“Today’s best nonprofits recognize this truth. They welcome two-way transparency, even when it’s difficult or stressful—and that includes being willing to entertain tough questions and challenges from well-intentioned supporters. Painful conversations, they’ve found, can be a path to discovery, learning, and growth.”
To fully embrace the idea of transparency, Jeffrey and Jennifer say that nonprofits need to first understand the vulnerabilities of donors and partners, including:
—the importance of personal or public recognition. Some donors want public recognition, others prefer to stay out of the spotlight.
—the intensely personal reasons for giving. Each donor’s motivation for giving will be unique.
—how much connection the donor wants with your organization. Some donors may consider their gift connection enough, while other donors crave ongoing involvement.
—the experience your charity represents in the donor’s life. Has there been a life-changing experience that drives them to give to your cause?
—any concerns the donor may have about giving, such as how the money will be spent or how much of a difference can be made.
Of course, it’s still critically important for organizations to practice openness when forging partnerships and bringing on new donors. You can show your commitment to transparency by being open about these three factors:
Your mistakes and missteps. Be as open about your failures as you are your successes. Show what you’ve learned and how you’re improving. Don’t try to hide mistakes—as we have seen all too often, this usually backfires.
How your strategy has evolved. Changing course isn’t something to be ashamed of, it shows how your organization is growing and adapting along with changing circumstances.
Your areas of uncertainty. Be upfront about what you don’t know or areas of weakness. This can help you identify strategic alliances, but also lets partners know you are a real organization, with imperfections like all others.