What Makes a Ministry Trustworthy?

When people want to give to a ministry to improve people’s lives, they need to know they can trust that organization to follow-through in the ways they promised. But how can they know your church or other nonprofit organization is doing the right things with the money they have given? The answer includes not only money, but also relationships and showing Jesus’ love.

Using gifts for their stated purposes – Whether people’s gifts are large or small, most donors feel a sense of personal investment, and want reassurance that their donations are making a difference in the way the church said it would. Stories about changed lives and circumstances can make a world of difference, rippling out among ministry supporters in a powerful way. Check out your organization’s listing on www.guidestar.org or www.charitynavigator.org to see how they say it has operated financially in the past.

Financial transparency is essential for any ministry. Church leaders need to discern how much detail some of their members or participants may want to see, and make that information accessible to them. In addition, conduct that is accountable and transparent earns the trust of the ministry’s employees, which creates a positive workplace for them, as well.1 The Internal Revenue Service has certain requirements for what must be publically disclosed, but a church can also create a “best practices” statement that addresses issues and values up front.

It’s also about relationships, not just use of finances. Positive experiences with core transactions can bring givers a sense of confidence in your church’s effectiveness, as well. For example, an article in Nonprofit Quarterly 2 says that the way the church or organization asks for and receives charitable contributions, how it uses its assets to benefit society, and the ways it promises mission commitment into the future all give donors a sense of its legitimacy.

Trust goes beyond relationships, as well. In a study of 16,800 givers called The Generosity Project, a nonprofit ethics organization 3 found that “overall, givers are twice as likely to say they give because they’ve been blessed as to say they give because their gift makes a difference.” In addition, 71 percent of their givers were more likely to consider giving to a ministry if it showed the love of Jesus. And for those donors who were Millennials, they were “ten times more likely to support a ministry that shows the love of Jesus than any other guiding trait of ministry service.”

May your ministries show themselves to be trustworthy in all of these ways!

Your partner in ministry,

Betsy Schwarzentraub

1 = www.councilofnonprofits.org/tools-resources/financial-transparency

2 = “The Public’s Trust in Nonprofit Organizations: The Role of Relationship Marketing and Management,” by Herrington J. Bryce, in https://nonprofitquarterly.org

3 = www.ecfa.church