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3 Ways to Build Donor Trust Before End-of-Year Fundraising

By Piper Sullivan September 17, 2021 Elevate is in the process of being retired, and will no longer be sold as of April 3, 2023. See more information in our communication, or find one of our many partners on the AppExchange if you are searching for a digital fundraising solution.

For existing customers, Elevate will be supported through the end of existing contracts.

Many organizations look to the end-of-year fundraising season as an opportunity to meet their annual goals. Getting a jumpstart on campaign planning is key, as is considering how digital tools can boost your campaign. But underlying all of these tactics is trust. At Salesforce, we see the building blocks of trust as honesty, consideration, reliability, and follow through. Let’s explore how we can lean into these concepts in the context of fundraising communications at scale, and online.

Breast cancer survivor flexing and smiling
Understanding who your donors are and what they care about helps you create compelling content that moves them to act. For example, knowing if your donor is also a survivor might change your message to them.


Being honest with donors is imperative to building trust. Being transparent and clear about how their funds are being used (or being upfront about your organization’s new needs) not only builds trust, but gives donors an opportunity to see themselves as integral to your mission.

For example, your organization could decide to be open about the transaction fees that are often deducted from the full amount of a donation. Many donation pages give donors the opportunity to cover the transaction fees over and above the amount given, so their full gift goes directly toward funding the mission. LA Family Housing reported that 50% of their donors took the opportunity to cover those transaction fees on their Elevate Giving Pages.


Understanding who our donors are and what they care about helps us create compelling content that moves them to act. If you’re a cause and cure organization, for example, knowing if your donor is also a survivor might change your message to them. Tools like Marketing Cloud for Nonprofits pulls in data from Nonprofit Success Pack directly and allows you to personalize your message to your donor.

Or think about events: keeping in mind that we’re still transitioning out of a pandemic, how can you plan your events so donors feel comfortable attending? Consider hybrid setups to accommodate everyone who wants to be involved in your organization. Cleaning your data is also a way you can show empathy and consideration. Sending multiple emails to the same person because your database has duplicate records just adds stress to already hectic lives.


Reliability is central to building trust — whether it’s a consistent (but personalized) message, a campaign they can expect to look for at the same time every year, or a regular cadence of impact updates. Maybe you always do the same Giving Tuesday campaign that you innovate within each year? Look for opportunities to create consistency with your donors, and you’ll build up levels of trust over time. Using Slack to engage with and respond to donor questions with speed and accuracy can be a great way to reinforce reliability.

Follow Through

When we do what we say we’re going to do, it creates trust. For example, following through with donation impact information helps donors see exactly how their funds helped: the more specific, the better. Something as simple as always sending a thank you note for every donation creates a sense of consistency and reliability your donors grow to count on. Many donation forms, including Elevate, have a feature that sends thank you notes automatically so you never miss an opportunity to show your gratitude for donors’ support.

A Foundation of Trust

All valuable relationships are built on the foundation of trust; relationships with donors are no exception. I hope this helps you create meaningful, trust-filled relationships with your donors — both in end-of-year fundraising campaigns, and in all of your fundraising efforts.

Read more from our end-of-year fundraising series: 5 Ways to Weave Digital Into End-of-Year Giving and 3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Prepare for End-of-Year Giving.

About the Author

Piper Sullivan, Product Marketing Manager, Fundraising at
Piper Sullivan
Product Marketing Manager for Fundraising at
Piper Sullivan is a Product Marketing Manager for Fundraising at She is passionate about helping nonprofits embrace technology as a way to connect with supporters in meaningful ways. Prior to, Piper helped The Salvation Army modernize their fundraising philosophy and tools after having gained key marketing insights and a user experience focus at Apple. Her background has been in entertainment, marketing, and tech for over a decade. She resides in Smyrna, GA with her husband Patrick.
Connect with her on Linkedin, listen to her on a podcast, or watch her speak at Dreamforce.