Opinion/About change – Trust strengthens charity

By Todd Cohen

Whether you give it away or get it, money is critical to charity.

But charity is more than money, which flows most easily and is used most productively when funders and nonprofits share what they know and listen to one another.

Sharing can be tough, though, because wealth skews relationships in the charitable world.

Whether they represent charitable supply or demand, charities can help bridge that gap in power by talking more openly to those they depend on, and listening more closely to those they serve.

Funders should involve nonprofits in designing grants and tracking their impact, and help them take risks and learn from mistakes.

By asking what nonprofits need and think, and heeding the answers, funders can be more effective.

And nonprofits should stop moaning about what they need and are owed, and market themselves to funders as partners to take on common causes.

By showing funders how their money is used, and keeping them involved in organizational activities and planning, nonprofits can build future support.

Communication connects charitable supply and demand, and helps ensure that charitable dollars and know-how flow in smart and effective ways.

A critical challenge for funders and nonprofits alike is to communicate better.

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