The 54-week gift receipt: FAIL

A colleague showed me something very disturbing the other day: A receipt from a well-reputed national nonprofit organization. It was a good receipt. Clean, readable design, nice graphics. It made clear the impact of the gift.

There was just one problem: It was sent 54 weeks after the gift was received.

That’s right: It took this organization more than a year to acknowledge a gift.

A donor who gave more than a year ago (and not since) is now officially lapsed. It is very difficult to get a lapsed donor back on board — nearly as tough as getting a new donor. Letting that year pass without thanking the donor is an irresponsible squandering of the relationship.

It’s worth noting that the gift in question was an online gift. Many otherwise well-run nonprofits struggle with the logistics of their online fundraising. Often, there are two separate databases that have to be brought together, and that causes hiccups and problems galore.

That’s an explanation, but it’s not an excuse. Online donors matter just as much as your traditional offline donors. In fact, online donors — being mostly younger and giving larger gifts — are your future. They are used to shopping, banking, and getting their entertainment online — and it almost always works at high speed.

If you let weeks pass without that receipt, you are failing them. And probably losing them.

Fix it. Now.


Comments

6 responses to “The 54-week gift receipt: FAIL”

  1. Was this really the first response, and not a follow-up a year later?? I’m astounded!

  2. Was this really the first response, and not a follow-up a year later?? I’m astounded!

  3. Hi Jeff
    There is one more possibility. Some organisations receipt their entire data after the end of the financial year. This is accepted practice for regular giving, but can be problematic (stupid) for single gifts. If your donor made their gift near the beginning of the organisation’s financial year it may well have taken this long. As a matter of process, not screw up. Not sure which is worse..

  4. Hi Jeff
    There is one more possibility. Some organisations receipt their entire data after the end of the financial year. This is accepted practice for regular giving, but can be problematic (stupid) for single gifts. If your donor made their gift near the beginning of the organisation’s financial year it may well have taken this long. As a matter of process, not screw up. Not sure which is worse..

  5. Was there an immediate e-receipt after the online gift was made? If so, this 54 week receipt might be a courtesy receipt to aid in tax preparation?
    Or, again, perhaps the receipt was a technique/benefit (recapping giving for tax purposes) under the guise of an appeal?
    Anyway to see the piece with appropriate information ‘black-lined’ of course?

  6. Was there an immediate e-receipt after the online gift was made? If so, this 54 week receipt might be a courtesy receipt to aid in tax preparation?
    Or, again, perhaps the receipt was a technique/benefit (recapping giving for tax purposes) under the guise of an appeal?
    Anyway to see the piece with appropriate information ‘black-lined’ of course?

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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