Trust Is More Valuable Than Money


Brian Sooy is a designer, volunteer, donor, and nonprofit board member. He is the principal of Aespire, the design and marketing firm that empowers mission-driven organizations to create purpose-driven communications through positioning, design, marketing, and web site development.

For this guest post, we asked him to share some of the insights from his recent book Raise Your Voice: A Cause Manifesto.

By Brian Sooy


How can you inspire your followers, and give them a reason to believe in your cause?

You begin with mission-driven design to help you tell your story. From this perspective, principles of strategic communication will convey trust, gratitude, and courage, to give your followers reasons to believe.

When your organization or cause is perceived as credible, trust follows. When you are trusted, your audience is more likely to believe you, and be comfortable in their interactions with your organization.

Supporters want to know your organization is truthful, trustworthy, transparent, and accountable. When your organization demonstrates credibility (and is not just perceived as credible), trust follows.

It is in conversation about the cause where supporters realize that their values align with the cause, where trust and loyalty are formed, and long-lasting relationships are built.


Connect with your Audience

Your audience is listening for a voice that speaks to their minds and appeals to their hearts. They want to believe and trust in a cause that they connect with. How can you do that?


Be Relational

Meaningful relationships are nurtured by gratitude and trust, with authenticity and transparency.


Be Social. Every interaction is an opportunity to build relationships.

Be Grateful. Every interaction is an opportunity to express your gratitude to your supporters, remembering that their gifts are meaningful and their generosity makes a difference.

Be Trustworthy. Every interaction is an opportunity to be transparent, acting and speaking in a manner consistent with your values, character, and culture.


Familiarity through Continuity

The next impression you make on an individual is only as good as the last impression you made; each interaction builds upon the previous one. Continuity through experience helps you build meaningful relationships, inspire trust, and motivate supporters to believe in and love your cause.

Donors choose to support organizations whose purpose upholds the values they hold most important, and whose mission they believe in. Gratefulness is a character quality, and is expressed in the culture of your organization. The values that represent your cause are expressed in the character of your organization. Organizations have purpose, expressed through their character and acted on through their culture.


A Sacred Trust

Donors and supporters entrust you with their values through the donation of time, money, or services. What you do with it, how you hold the trust sacred, how you acknowledge it — sends a message about how meaningful their gift is. Philanthropy, development, and stewardship can be be transformed if every advocate, ambassador, and fundraiser understand the true gift that is given is the supporter’s trust. Money, services, or time is an accompaniment to that gift, and evidence of the donor’s commitment. Fundraising relationships will be transformed when you realize what you are asking a donor to do is trust you to manage their investment for a measurable impact. Money, or any other gift, is just proof of the exchange.

The trust a supporter gives an organization is more important than the donation that accompanies it.



This article was adapted from Raise Your Voice: A Cause Manifesto, a book that explores mission-driven design, marketing, donor engagement, and the touch points that connect your mission with your audience. It is a framework for understanding how your organization’s purpose, character, culture, and voice represents your cause, and moves your organization beyond branding. The twelve strategic, inspirational, relational, and aspirational principles of the Cause Manifesto are will empower you to communicate to the outcomes you are working to achieve, transform your culture, and empower you to share your story more powerfully and effectively. Download a free poster at ©2014 Brian Sooy