Nonprofits exist to fulfill a specific purpose – to serve those in need and improve the lives of others in our communities (or to help the environment or assist animals or support the arts, etc.). While we may possess an exceptional team of dedicated individuals and the best strategy for how to fulfill our mission, one element is absolutely essential to our success as an organization – we must earn the unyielding trust of our local community. As we have seen in headlines time and again, the missteps of a nonprofit agency can lead to its rapid and untimely downfall. That’s a big risk to take when the stakes for those we serve are so high.
Most importantly, those we serve live in the communities in which we operate. As human service agencies, we have a meaningful responsibility to earn the highest level of trust from those in our local areas. Just as the individuals in our neighborhoods depend upon us to provide a specific need, we, too, depend upon our neighbors to support our agency and the fulfillment of our mission. Not only do we often depend heavily on the financial resources of local donors (individuals and local businesses), they are our talent pool for building a team of dedicated employees, our volunteers that remain a fundamental part of our overall success, and often are our loudest cheerleaders out there promoting what we do and how we do it.
Earning trust requires the utmost attention to demonstrating ethical leadership, responsible (and responsive) business practices, transparency, and a genuine commitment to an agency’s mission. With the trust of its community behind it, for a local nonprofit the sky is truly the limit.