Caledon charities working to earn your trust
By Monty Laskin/Caledon Community Services
Trust. There is no way to be closest and dearest to anyone unless you are trusted. I think it is exactly the same for a community charity. Each and every charity in Caledon works hard to earn your trust. Without it, you see the charity as nothing more than a service provider. But with trust you have a relationship with the charity, it becomes your community partner. It is that partnership with you, through the trust you have in us, that allows residents and businesses to have a direct stake in the work of any charity.
Trust is hard-earned, it is not something handed out like samples at a grocery store that come free in a small little paper doily. A charity like Caledon Community Services offers services year over year for 43 years. It gradually builds a reputation by addressing community challenges with innovations. It constantly makes efforts to deliver the impact that people want in this community. If it succeeds, it builds trust.
I like to think trust is built through excellence, that it is earned by following through on commitments. Mostly it is built by saying what you are doing and doing exactly as you say.
Fiona Ott, Director of Fundraising and Communications in Caledon Community Services, is a trust builder. She is also burning the candle at both ends this time of year. Having just wrapped up an exciting annual Gala in late November (the Exchange Lounge!), she is now fully immersed in CCS’ annual Santa Fund. This Caledon-wide campaign is a two-month marathon that is all about trust. Fiona communicates with our community; she tells people what CCS can do in the year ahead with their trust. Like any fundraiser, she shares our stories about the ways your donations will create impact. She asks for your trust.
The Muttart Foundation recently released a report, “Talking About Charities 2013″. Trust figures very prominently in this fifth edition of a public poll of almost 4,000 Canadians. It contains good news and not so good news for charities.
Eighty per cent of us have a lot or some trust in charities. That is higher than the trust levels given to the federal, provincial and municipal governments and also higher than the media and major corporations. Only small businesses receive a higher trust level than charities. So should charities see this as a good grade?
We’re sure not basking in this tepid endorsement in CCS. We don’t strive for our community to have “some trust” in Caledon Community Services. We want our community to believe that everything we do, and the way we do it, is about excellence. We want Caledon residents, businesses and other organizations to believe that their donations of time, skills and resources are treated with respect, integrity, accountability and transparency. I know that my colleagues in other Caledon charities also aim this high. We all want Caledon to have a high level of trust in our work.
According to Muttart Foundation Executive Director Bob Wyatt, we’ve got a ways to go still. He notes that there has been a significant drop in the trust levels of some charities since the study was conducted in 2008. His Foundation’s report also notes that trust is highest amongst Canadians under the age of 35; that a high percentage of us believe charities are honest (but that percentage has decreased in the past decade); and that charities are considered important by 93% of us with 88% of Canadians believing charities improve their quality of life.
It seems to me that the Foundation’s report is all about trust. At this time of the year, when CCS is launching its most ambitious Santa Fund campaign ever, trust is everything. As it should be. Trust and charitable giving are deeply intertwined.
When choosing our charities at this time of the year, I expect everyone asks important questions: Is the charity going to use my money in the way I want it used? What impact will my money have on someone’s life? Is the charity able to demonstrate and measure its impact?
Before you donate your hard-earned money, you need to have trust. But consider this: Donations to CCS go well beyond money these days. We’re asking people and businesses to get into the trenches with us and invest their time and skills in contributing to our impact. We are asking for the wisdom of Caledon residents; the skills of Caledon’s business community; the hands-on collective support of faith communities; the food donations of Caledon’s farmers. And of course, the generous financial donations of all who contribute to the Santa Fund. Each and every one of these is a gift that is not given unless there’s trust.
All of Caledon’s charities are working hard to earn your trust and maintain it. Is there a formula to that? I’m not sure but I know that for many years we continue to work towards it. I believe that if we keep our noses to the grindstone, provide service excellence that meets people’s needs, conduct ourselves professionally and never let up in reaching for the impact we’ve promised to those who donate skills, resources and money, we’ll be on the right track to earning your trust.