PMA Consulting, LLC

Overcoming a Crisis of Trust

The UNCC Crossroads Charlotte program, led by Dr. Susan Harden, offered an intriguing headline on the invitation for its March 17 program entitled Moving Beyond the Headlines: Strategies for Overcoming a Crisis of Trust.  For a Charlotte community inundated with publicity around the challenges of trust for our local United Way, I thought this would indeed be a fascinating topic.

To speak on this subject, Harden and her team brought in Dr. Kirsten Gronbjerg, the Efroymson Chair in Philanthropy at the nationally renowned Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.  Gronbjerg covered a variety of topics that were relevant to the philanthropic community, including assessing issues of trust and confidence (and the difference between the two) as well as trends effecting the size and scope of the nonprofit sector.  Most helpfully, she touched on strategies for the future of both charities and the community philanthropic funders that support them.

So how does Dr. Gronbjerg suggest charities earn the level of trust that encourages philanthropic giving?  Three ways:

  1. By Deserving It.  They must have a well-articulated and documented case for support.  Why is your mission important and relevant to your community? How do you know your programs are effective in achieving your goals?  Are your staff and board capable of accomplishing the task?
  2. By Giving Priority to Fund Development.  Is development a core component of the organization? Is there a clear plan that defines the execution, evaluation and refinement?
  3. By Recognizing Special Obligations to Donors & Community.  Are you focused on stewardship, accountability and transparency?

For Patton McDowell & Associates, these were timely and practical reminders of strategies on which we will focus with all of our nonprofit partners.