Trust Me - Building Trust the Key to Leadership - Dave Tinker, CFRE

By: Dave Tinker, CFRE


The word lead can mean many things to many people.  It can mean heading up a group of people or organization. It can mean being innovative. Depending on your circumstances it can mean many things to you. One of the most important parts of leading, especially for someone like us who work in the nonprofit realm, is trust.


I have served a variety of leadership roles.  One of the most challenging has been being a softball coach for 8 and under and 10 and under girls for the past several years.  This has meant making decisions for the kids on where to stand in the field and how to hit, helping them see how they are an important part of the team, and comforting them when they get hit by the ball (and whoever named a softball a softball didn’t know what they were talking about because there’s nothing soft about it). It has meant not yelling at umpires when they make a mistake or arguing loudly because I am modeling good behavior for the girls.  The girls trust me to make the correct decisions that will allow us to win. The parents trust me that I will teach their children the game, how to be a good teammate, how to win without being boastful, and how to lose without being a sore loser.  The community softball organization trusts that I will represent our organization in a positive manner.  That’s a lot to put on a volunteer leader’s plate. But to be a successful coach, trust is woven throughout it.


As a leader, people trust in your decisions. People trust that you will be ethical.  A key component to working in a high performing team is that people trust that you are doing their work to the best of their ability.  They trust you have their best interests and the interests of your organization in mind.  

As people who work in fundraising, you will never be successful raising money without having trust. Donors trust that you will be using their gifts as promised. Donors trust that you are putting their funds to use the best way possible.  It is when you break trust that people will stop donating their time and money.

Simply put to be a successful leader you need to exhibit trust.

What does lead mean to you? How have you demonstrated trust in others? How do you get people to trust you? Tell us in the comments below.

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Dave Tinker

Vice President of Advancement at ACHIEVA
Dave Tinker, CFRE is Vice President of Advancement at ACHIEVA and is an adjunct professor of informatics at Muskingum University’s Master of Information Strategy, Systems and Technology program. He has worked in fundraising since 1990. Dave is an AFP Master Trainer. He received the Outstanding Fund Raising Executive Award from the AFP Western PA chapter in 2013. Dave is a past president of the AFP Western PA chapter and has served in many volunteer roles for AFP International and his own chapter, where he is currently the Vice President of Resources. He has served in leadership positions on many nonprofit boards including the Brentwood Athletic Association, Pittsburgh Planned Giving Council, APRA Western PA, PA Kiwanis, and Brewhouse Artists. Dave has spoken internationally on technology and fund raising, has had numerous articles published in professional journals and has written curriculum for The Fund Raising School® at Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and the Alliance for Children and Families. Dave received a Master of Public Affairs with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry and English from Muskingum College and a Master of Information Strategy, Systems and Technology from Muskingum University. He is also a graduate of Leadership Works - Indianapolis, Class III.

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