I used to be Donor Services Supervisor for a large nonprofit, which meant my department was largely responsible for how donors were treated. A month into my new job (and I'm embarrassed it took me so long), I gave a small donation via our 800 number and was horrified at how badly it was handled. After fruitless attempts to improve the service, I ended up firing the outside firm that handled the 800 number and found some far better people. The lesson stuck.
I'd like to declare today (any day that you are reading this) "be your donor day." Pretend you are one of your donors or a prospective donor and do the following:
- Call your switchboard and see what happens when you ask for help or information.
- Call your 800 number, if you have one, and ask some average questions and make a donation.
- Send an email to your nonprofit's donor services department (if you have one) and see if you get a cordial and timely response.
- See how many seconds it takes a friend to find out how to donate on your web site - and then how long it takes to actually do it.
- Donate to your own organization so you see how your thank-you notes arrive (if they arrive) and how you're treated.
It could surprise you. Fixing customer service and donor relations issues such as these are of course better done late than never, but it would be best if you are proactive enough to make a change before there's a problem. Don't let your great cause and all of the great work you do go to waste as you cut a few quick corner corners around basic customer service.