Volkswagen’s Deception: A Parable of Trust

Volkswagen Logo

Volkswagen is in a world of hurt these days. Apparently blatant deception doesn’t do well for your brand.

You may be thinking, “How could Volkswagen’s situation impact my non-profit?” Gerry McGovern broke it down nicely recently:

“A consequence of untrustworthy brands is growing disloyalty and switching. Brands and organizations in general will become less and less listened to even when they have something valuable to say. The best way to reestablish trust is not through marketing and advertising but rather through being trustworthy.”

This point seems relatively elementary, but we often take it for granted. So, let’s put it in the context of a number of key things our Experience Design Team works with clients on every day:

  • The most compelling and consistent brand won’t gain traction without trust.
  • A new website won’t engage your donors if there’s not a foundation of trust.
  • Content marketing won’t engage with your audience in new ways without trust.

So the logical next question is this: how can you cultivate trust with your supporters? Glad you asked. Try these 3 approaches and see where they take you.

  1. Be honest about your failures. No one thinks you’re perfect after all. There’s no use pretending.
  2. Your brand has people at its heart (both staff and those you serve). Invite your constituents to connect with the men and women you serve by volunteering.
  3. Encourage those passionate about you to tell their stories. They’ll create more belief in your organization than you ever could with marketing or advertising.

Only with trust will your investment in the donor experience pay off. Don’t forget to build it.