What to do when donors complain

Donors complain. For all kinds of reasons.

They’re human.

Every fundraising program generates complaints. The more successful the program, the more complaints. That’s the very nature of motivating people: When you make a strong case for a gift, you risk annoying people. Urgency, need, and emotion — all key to successful fundraising — can make people feel uncomfortable. And some will complain.

The only way to avoid complaints is to stop communicating with people. You can avoid most (not all) complaints by being so bland an unobtrusive that nobody quite notices what you have to say. But you won’t get revenue either.

Here are some things to keep in mind when responding to a complaint:

  • Be thankful to the caller. This person cares enough to communicate with you. Her call is your chance to serve the donor better and turn a negative feeling into a positive experience. If you handle it well, you can turn a complainer into a more loyal and connected friend than ever. Find out exactly what she wants — and do it.
  • Don’t argue the facts. It’s common for an irate caller to confuse your organization with another, or to think all the mail from several organizations is coming from you. Do your best to ascertain what’s actually happening and then endeavor to satisfy the complainer.
  • Though you may need to change things for this caller (such as send her less mail or change your style), you probably do not need to change your fundraising program. Only program-wide results should guide you on what to do program wide — not individual complaints.
  • For every caller you get complaining about mail, there are thousands of donors who responded positively to your mail and sent gifts. Be influenced by to the people who voted with their wallets and let them shape your thinking — not the complainers.

Complaints can derail a successful fundraising program if you let fear drive your response to them.

Or complaints can deepen your connection with donors.

Your call.


Comments

Leave a Reply

What this blog is about

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.

Blog policies

Subscribe

Get new posts by email:

About the blogger

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.


Archives

Blogroll

Categories


Search the blog

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.

Recent Comments

About the blogger

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.

Blog Roll

someone’s blog