Shelley Feist

High Trust Content Marketing –Transparency: It’s not about disclosure. It’s about context.

photo, Shelley Feist

This is Part IV in a series on trust-building for nonprofit organizations.

I covered the first two of 13 behaviors of trusted leaders and how these elements of trust could be used as a framework for nonprofit organizations in developing content.

When I began considering this week’s topic of “creating transparency” I at first thought this was such a robust topic I would have difficulty covering it in a way that could be useful to you.   

Transparency is an often-repeated business buzzword.  As a nonprofit executive, I had my own experience of what transparency meant to me. 

But to prepare for this post I sought out a few expert voices from business for a more comprehensive picture of transparency, its meaning and application for organizations.

The interesting thing I took away was what transparency is not. 

Transparency isn’t about measures to release as much information as possible. 

It isn’t something like, “let’s be so transparent people will feel they are in our CEO’s office every day.” 

No, that’s not the idea. 

Transparency is not disclosure.

Trust Tag #3 – Create Transparency

Simon Sinek, Author of Start With Why, explains that people often mistakenly think business transparency is about the more we show, the more “transparent” we are. 

Sinek says what it is really about is keeping people in the loop.

He says it is uncertainty that erodes trust.  Providing context for the decisions your organization is making is the way you give people a sense that they know what is going on.

In this way, transparency is about lessening uncertainty. 

When people feel uncertain, they will try to fill in the gaps. 

They’ll fill in that gap with their own ideas, data, suspicions or concerns.  

Sharing information that gives context to your mission and your actions builds understanding, and this alleviates uncertainty. 

Creating transparency around the work of your organization is just one of the several  ways you can make trust “deposits” with your chosen audience.

For the next few weeks I’ll be posting about additional ways you can build trust through the content you create.

Considering what I learned in my review of this topic, I’d say it is important for your organization to come to your own definition of what transparency means for you and for your audience.

Don’t make it about disclosure. 

Make it about developing understanding and providing context to your mission-driven work.

Content types to create transparency

There are many ways your content can provide context about the work your organization does in the world: 

  • “Behind the scenes” of your organization (your facility, your events)
  • Staff and director bios or profiles
  • Client/stakeholder survey key takeaways
  • Charity Navigator/ GuideStar postings
  • Annual goals and occasional updates on progress
  • Job postings with core organizational values and salary information
  • Charts/graphics on funding allocation
  • “We asked, you answered” insights
  • Annual report/ annual priorities
  • Program evaluation takeaways
  • “What we’re working on” newsletter
  • Client testimonials

Next week look for trust tags #4 and #5 for high trust content marketing!

P.S.  Overwhelmed with content creation?  Let’s sort out your strategy and set you on course to be more effective with less effort.  I’m happy to brainstorm with you to get startedSchedule a free call with me.

P.S.S.  – Art to lift the nonprofit executive spirit!  Free documentaries.

Watch more than 200 free documentaries online covering everything from music and cinema, to literature, religion, politics and physics.  

Trust-building for Nonprofits (series-so-far) 

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