Yesterday it was incredibly cold with a wind chill (minus 39!). I’d just taken my dogs for a cross country ski and was driving home, waiting anxiously for the car heater to kick in.

I was listening to CBC radio and there was an interview with Mavis Staples. Now, Mavis is one of my favourite all-time female vocalists. (If you don’t know her, think of Gladys Knight without the pips, the doo-wops and the songs with that pop-sounding hook.)

Mavis started her career with the Staples Singers – a crossover gospel group that consisted of her dad (gospel music legend Pops Staples) her sisters and her brother. She went solo several years ago. Pops has now departed this earth.

She was promoting her new album – and at one point she quoted her father:

“What comes from the heart, reaches the heart.”

I thought that was beautifully expressed.

Then I started thinking – about the role of sincerity in philanthropy and fundraising.

It dawned on me that we fundraisers rarely (if ever) use the word ‘sincerity’ when we talk about our work. And yet, IMHO, there’s nothing more important to our success.

Donors and prospects need to know us fully. They need to share with us – whether they share our beliefs, our sense of purpose or the value we place on your organization’s mission. That sharing leads to trust. And, trust leads to loyalty.

So here’s my challenge:

Take a look through your stuff. Your website. Your annual report. Your last mail or e-appeal. Are they sincere?

If they’re not, what can you do to change that?

I’d love to hear what you find. And I’d love to hear what you’re going to do about it.