Building trust requires sincerity in personal relationships one has with prospects. We should aim for building long-term partnerships based on shared values, leading to commitment from donors.

Personal contact and involving your donors builds trust.


A key to building trust is involving prospects in your organisation. This enables them to experience the social problem that you are addressing, and to see that the work you are doing has an impact by making a difference to people’s lives in the community.

At this stage, your NPO should be open to hearing the concerns of the donor. This will help you to deal with issues and problems that could affect your relationship and their potential support. Sometimes your prospect’s input will alert you to issues that you are unaware of and areas where you can improve.


Building trust depends a lot on personal relationships, especially with the Chief Executive Officer, CEO/Director or board members of your NPO.

Conversations around what you do, your worries and other issues affecting the community you work with, help to strengthen the relationship and encourage a growing sense of trust; this is a move from the impersonal (facts and figures) to the personal.


To build trust, you also need to be sincere in your relationship with prospects. They will instantly know when you are only after their money. Securing financial support is not the only benefit of building good relationships with potential donors – they also secure your NPO’s presence in the greater community.


Commitment is when a donor finally offers to financially support your NPO and you agree to accept the funding. Commitment shows a lot of trust and confidence in your organisation or institution. People don’t easily part with their money, knowledge and services unless they feel very strongly that your cause is worth supporting and they will not be wasting these resources.

There are many NPOs needing support, so the donor has to have a good reason to invest in yours. Therefore, this relationship has to be fully crafted, sincere and mutually respectful. This will ensure a long-term commitment from your donors to keep them returning with more support in the future.

It is important to remember that fundraising is not selling. “Engaging hearts and minds comes before asking for the money.” _ Ken Burnett

What you should be aiming for in building relationships is a long-term partnership based on shared values.


ASK Inyathelo Magic Cube
Shelagh Gastrow and Amanda Bloch.  Building Relationships with Potential Donors, Inyathelo’s Attracting Support kit for NPOs – ASK
Lizel Shepherd. What is Advancement? Presentation