Reader Sonia emailed me today to note her local paper is doing a series of exposes on charity. (Fortunately, Sonia’s organization is not in this story – nor shoud it be!) But Sonia worried this type of coverage, by raising doubt about charity in general, could hurt giving to her organization.Here’s what I told her:You want to regularly assure all of your donors and prospects that you’d never be caught up in the shenanigans exhibited by the sorry crew in the paper. You do that by how you behave, not by what you claim:1. Show how you stretch your dollars in tough times. Show how you pinch every penny to ensure that the hard-earned gifts of your supporters go to your programs and not inefficiencies. Show you’re a careful and thoughtful steward of their contributions. 2. Be specific in your appeals. What is the need? What will donor dollars achieve? Be as tangible as possible. There is a reason people love Kiva.org and Donors Choose. 3. Show where the donation goes. When you thank donors, are you quick about it? Are you specific about where the money went? Do you provide them with regular progress reports on the results of their donations? 4. Whenever possible, have third parties attest to your effectiveness. Make sure as much of your messaging as possible is said by donors, trusted third-parties and beneficiaries rather than just you. In short, I’d focus on living up to this list rather than lamenting the newspaper story. You don’t need people to trust charities. You need them to trust you.