Why You Should Trust Non-Profits…. Unless you have been Catfished

by Barron J. Damon (USA)

In a world where skepticism often lingers around every corner, non-profit organisations stand as beacons of hope and change. Most of the time they operate with noble missions, aiming to uplift communities, champion causes, and positively impact society. However, in the digital age, where trust can be fragile, navigating the realm of non-profits requires a discerning eye.

This article explores the importance of trust in philanthropy, highlighting red flags such as lack of transparency, unrealistic promises, misalignment of mission, and absence of accountability. It emphasises the need for due diligence before supporting non-profits, urging donors to research thoroughly, seek accreditation, engage directly with organisations, and remain vigilant for warning signs. While the majority of non-profits operate ethically, the article stresses the importance of balancing trust with discernment, ensuring that contributions genuinely make a positive impact.

Donations fell during the holiday season for non-profits

I recently read an article on Ksat.com that said holiday donations fall as many people lost trust in non-profit organisations. According to Direct Relief, one in three donors say they limited holiday giving this year and 41% are less likely to donate.  Trustworthiness is one of the reasons many people are holding back on donations this year. Direct Relief, a humanitarian medical organisation that serves people across the United States and internationally says in the last 20 years, 20 million households have stopped donating entirely. Experts say this is due to a lack of trust between the donor and the charity. According to the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at the University of Indiana, 81% of donors want more transparency on how donations are spent from non-profits, 65% of donors say they would give more if they understood more, and 61% of donors don’t trust non-profits.

The inherent trustworthiness of non-profits

The National Philanthropic Trust states in their most recent data available, that there are more than 1.54 million charitable organisations in the United States. Non-profits, driven by altruistic motives, typically operate transparently, with accountability mechanisms in place. These organisations adhere to stringent regulations, including financial disclosures and governance standards. The overwhelming majority of non-profits uphold ethical practices, utilising donations to fuel their missions, amplifying social impact, and bringing about meaningful change. Trust in non-profits is vital. It’s the bridge connecting the benevolent intentions of donors and the impactful actions of organisations. It’s the cornerstone upon which collaborations, donations, and social initiatives are built. However, as in any relationship, trust requires a delicate balance of transparency, integrity, and authenticity.

Building trust through transparency and impact

Non-profit organisations do have a responsibility to their stakeholders and the community at large. Transparent communication is the cornerstone of trust-building in the non-profit sector. Reputable organisations maintain clear and open channels, readily sharing information about their goals, operations, and how donations are utilised. They provide concrete evidence of their impact, showcasing success stories, testimonials, and quantifiable outcomes from their initiatives.

Guarding against catfishing in the non-profit realm

The term “catfishing,” popularised by online dating, refers to the deceptive creation of false identities. In the realm of non-profits, a similar deception can occur—organisations misrepresenting their impact, misusing funds, or lacking transparency. This “catfishing” erodes trust, tarnishing the reputation of genuine organisations striving for positive change. Despite the noble intentions of most non-profits, there exist fraudulent entities or misrepresented organisations that can deceive donors. Much like falling victim to a catfishing scam, trusting a deceitful non-profit can lead to misdirected donations or disillusionment. It’s imperative to exercise caution and diligence to avoid being catfished in the philanthropic sphere.

Source: iCN Issue 44 (Wellness & Holistic Coaching); pages 26-28

About Barron J. Damon

Barron is a strategic leader in the non-profit sector with 20-plus years of experience as an Executive of a national non-profit. Barron is a Philanthropist, and a Certified Professional Philanthropic Coach through the International Coaching Federation.  He has also been featured in several magazines as well as a special guest on TV, radio shows, and podcasts discussing topics related to philanthropy, youth development, business, and travel. He can be reached at www.barrondamon.com