Trust is of paramount importance to charities. It is a major factor underpinning the donations of time and money by millions of people every year. This time and money is the lifeblood of a charity and to keep people onside, the trust has to be maintained. But how do you do that?
- Build a sector-wide trust steering group led by the Commission – The Commission needs to co-ordinate activities to keep trust high and chair a high level steering group responsible for maintaining that trust.
- Grow awareness and the brand of the Commission through charity and sector action – Research shows that awareness of the Commission breeds high trust, but this awareness hovers around 50%. Growing it would reassure the public and further increase trust.
- Tackle key pinch points likely to undermine trust and confidence – Key issues that arise, like ‘high salaries’ and ‘high administration costs’, do not get addressed. The sector must abandon the laissez-faire approach and tackle problems head on.
- Identify communications resources to address low-sector profile in general media – Most media coverage of charities is extreme and sensational; either huge success or dramatic failure. Is there a sector body or regulator who can try and change how the public see charities?
Grow non-statutory codes of practice - Fundraising has its own self-regulatory bodies. But other areas, such as CEOs, finance or communications have not. Regulating other aspects of the sector is vital.
- Charities should wear their regulatory burden on their sleeve – Most charities have several regulators but do not make this clear, but proudly proclaiming their regulation can only increase trust.
- Practice great fundraising as set out in the Institute of Fundraising’s codes of practice and join the FRSB – Complying with the IoF and FRSB are vital in building trust. If a charity cares about trust, it will be part of the self-regulatory framework.
- Drizzle impact from every pore – People want to know about the charities they support spending money wisely, but few will proactively check. Charities need to make this easier. They need to communicate their impact in 15 words...or less.
- Practice proactive dialogue with stakeholders – Thorny issues that can’t be avoided should be discussed. If a charity has to pay a CEO over £100,000, they should be proactive and discuss it with supporters to increase understanding.
- Do great work and tell the world – The most powerful way to build trust is do a great job and then tell everyone about it with passion and conviction.
Our list is by no means exhaustive, but we think it’s a start. We want your thoughts so we can published an updated strategy in 2013. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.