How to Build a Faith-based Organization’s Reputation
Reputation is essential for any business to thrive and it is especially important for a faith-based organization. A solid reputation is what gives people the confidence to do business with you. Whether your faith-based organization is a church, university, private school or a ministry, having a good reputation in the eyes of the customers, employees, donors and members is vital.
Here are three key rules to follow for building image and reputation in your faith-based organization:
Whether it be through advertising, newsletters or face-to-face communication, truthfulness about your organization is key. This may not always be easy. Having integrity may sometimes mean being painfully truthful in a difficult situation. During these times, people typically tend to want to sweep it under the rug or try and minimize its importance to the public. It is especially important that an organization be honest in difficult situations because it is in how you respond to these situations that people will measure the integrity of the rest of your organization. In admitting mistakes you show a human side and demonstrate your diligence in fixing the problem.
Being open to sharing information with stakeholders, members of the media, donors and city leaders shows you have nothing to hide. It is obvious and understandable that sharing every piece of information is impractical, however, sharing what you can takes down barriers between the organization and those around it. When it appears someone is trying to hide or cover something, more than likely they are. If that is the case, the truth will come out at some point. It is always best for the organization to tell the story first in the manner in which you want it to be told. Take control of the message and be transparent. It is easier to be open at the beginning and move forward than it is to go back and correct mistakes—this creates a loss in credibility.
Having conversation and being involved with stakeholders, employees and members of your organization is vital. Engage in dialogue and listen to what people have to say. Listen to people’s concerns and address them. This will help your credibility and trustworthiness. Also, don’t forget your staff—they can be the biggest advocates in both the good times and the bad times. Establish trust through engagement and constant communication. Staff will tend to support an organization through its hard times if they feel that they can trust you and feel knowledgeable on the situation. Staff can also detract from a situation, however, if they find out information elsewhere. Staff proves to be an invaluable asset in building a reputation for your organization.
Learn what it takes to build and maintain a positive reputation now and be prepared for any situation that may arise.
David Wagner is a Partner and an expert in helping clients with organizational development and overall performance. David also leads the firm’s faith-based initiative, helping organizations of all faiths.