What could be a more important character quality for a fund development professional?

You need the trust of your donors and funders, your boss, your colleagues, community partners, and fellow staff in order to get your job done.

So how do you build trustworthiness?

In his book, The Trusted Advisor, Charles H. Green posits there is a trust equation:

 The trust equation has one variable in the denominator and three in the numerator. Increasing the value of the factors in the numerator – credibility, reliability and familiarity – increases the value of trust. Increasing the value of the denominator – self-orientation – decreases the value of trust.

Credibility is the quality of being believed or accepted as true, real or honest. One way to boost credibility is to truly be a master of your profession.  Focus on professional development, continuing education, and skill building.

Reliability is the ability to be relied on or depended on, as for accuracy, honesty, or achievement. Green says we build reliability every time we make promises (even small ones) and then deliver on them.

Intimacy is a feeling of close familiarity or friendship with someone, which can only be established by spending time getting to know someone, both personally and professionally.

Self-orientation refers to the person’s focus being on herself or on the other person.  Self-orientation sits alone in the denominator and is the most important variable in the Trust Equation. A fund development professional with low self-orientation (high focus on the other) is free to completely and honestly focus on the donor – not for his own sake, but for the sake of the donor.

What is your Trust Quotient?The Trust Quotient is a number – like your IQ or EQ – that benchmarks your trustworthiness against the four variables. I took this test and found it to be interesting and insightful.  You do have to give your name and email, but if you feel comfortable doing so, it might give you some insight into yourself and what you need to do to boost your trustworthiness!  Check it out at

Let me know if you take the quiz and how it turns out for you!


Laura Alexander

Principal Consultant