If you are seeking a service, a product, or an experience, you can find an online review as quickly as you can access Google.
Of course, finding online reviews quickly is not the same as trusting online reviews. In fact, it is estimated that between 30 – 50% of all online reviews are fake and designed to fool a consumer into a purchase. And unfortunately, almost 90% of consumers use online reviews to help make purchase choices.
Motivations for philanthropic giving, of course, are not the same as those leading up to a consumer-retailer business transaction. However, the process of an institution developing trust with a prospective donor is not too dissimilar from a business developing trust with a potential customer.
- “Will my charitable gift/purchase provide the outcome I’m looking for?”
- “Does this institution/business value what I value?”
- “Will this institution/business stand by what they say they will do?”
- “Are the people I interact with at this institution/business competent and likable?”
These are the types of questions a potential donor or potential customer may ask in order to gauge the trustworthiness of a charitable institution or business.
In the nonprofit world, we often think of volunteers as “free labor.” They help plan events. They help implement events and activities. They, generally, take some of the weight off of paid team members in a variety of ways. And, certainly they can do all of those things.
But where volunteers can significantly make a difference in advancing your mission is with trust-building — in helping others answer the above questions about your institution affirmingly.
Yes, online reviews are easy, convenient, and they matter. For better and worse, a significant portion of our lives are now spent online. But who is providing the review matters even more.
Building human trust is ultimately the result of positive personal interplay. And when influential volunteers advocate, encourage, share, inspire, reassure, and invite others on your behalf (whether on- or off-line), you have tapped into their value as priceless reviewers.
What are you doing, then, to attract the most helpful volunteers as reviewers?
What are you doing to inspire and educate these volunteers on how they can do this part of the work more effectively?
And what are you doing to acknowledge them as your institution’s priceless reviewers?
In a world where trust still matters but credibility can be suspect, thoughtfully engaging your volunteers as influencers may be the most effective piece of advancement work you can do.