23 Nov

To err is human, but will donors forgive?

Life is full of teachable moments. When I make mistakes, I try to find the learning.

In the past two weeks, I have been on the receiving end of two development faux pas. I share them so we can all learn from them.

  1. I emailed an organization that I am involved with and explained that I wanted to make a donation using stock and asked for the transfer instructions. Here was the email I got back from the comptroller: “I have attached the instructions. Please be sure to let me know if you transfer stock so I can sell it right away. Thanks.”

The proper response was something more like, “Thank you for contacting me about making a donation. We appreciate your continued support. I am attaching the instructions. Please let me know if you have any questions or I can be of further assistance. We usually sell the donated stock right away so would you please let me know when you transfer it. Many thanks for your generosity.”

  1. My husband and I made a donation to an organization. The thank you letter was addressed on the outer envelope and inner letter only to my husband. Ironically, I was the one that initiated the donation!

In 2014 it seems crazy to me that donor databases only allow for one name to be listed and if that is for some reason the case then staff should be checking thank you notes to ensure that they are sent to the person or people who actually made the gift.

Two lessons to take away: First, everyone in your organization is on the development team. Train everyone who interacts with any member, donor, potential member or potential donor. Second, check your database, thank you notes and envelope salutations if you don’t want to alienate donors.

To your fundraising success,

PS. My new book, On Board: What Current and Aspiring Board Members Must Know About Nonprofits & Board Service, is now available on Amazon

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