How to turn your mistakes into fundraising gold

Your organization makes a mistake and a donor complains: catastrophe, or opportunity?

I hope you said opportunity. Because it’s an excellent chance to deepen your relationship with a donor who wants a relationship. (Think about it: A donor who’s apathetic would be unlikely to complain. The complainer wants to work things out.

Here’s some help on responding to those complaints from MarketSmart, at Why mistakes are awesome and what to do about them:


  1. Be glad they called.
  2. Respond promptly.
  3. Apologize profusely and mean it! Be real!
  4. Bend over backwards to make it right.
  5. Make sure you made it right.
  6. Thank them for allowing you the opportunity to make it right.

Suppose a donor complains about something you did that was not a mistake? Like sending “too much mail” or printing a photo she doesn’t like.

Pretty much the same as above. Except for this: Don’t apologize as if what you did was a screw-up. Apologize that it wasn’t right for her. And make it right for her.

Don’t go and change everything for everyone because you got one complaint (or two, or ten…). That’s a quick way to fail!


Comments

2 responses to “How to turn your mistakes into fundraising gold”

  1. BEN GONSHER Avatar
    BEN GONSHER

    OMG. This is RIGHT-ON. It just happened the other day to me with a $25k donor who was SPEECHLESS when he heard me say, “you know what? You are right and I am sorry. Thank you for telling me how you feel.” He shared that in all his years of philanthropy, he’s NEVER HEARD THAT BEFORE!!! Score!!!

  2. BEN GONSHER Avatar
    BEN GONSHER

    OMG. This is RIGHT-ON. It just happened the other day to me with a $25k donor who was SPEECHLESS when he heard me say, “you know what? You are right and I am sorry. Thank you for telling me how you feel.” He shared that in all his years of philanthropy, he’s NEVER HEARD THAT BEFORE!!! Score!!!

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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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