Attention to Detail Improves the Net (Worth)

I’ll never forget the poster: a large fishing net with an intricate pattern. Completely intact and flowing over the bow of an old fishing boat. The caption: Attention to detail improves the net.

Attention to detail is also important in fundraising — we ask donors to entrust us with their resources and provide them with a meaningful return. We not only owe our donors attention to detail, but it does indeed improve the net — the funds you raise for your worthy cause.

Check and double-check the spelling of your donor names
Know how the names are spelled and what donors prefer to be called. As Dale Carnegie shared, “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

Get the gift right
Last week I panicked when I received an e-mail acknowledging that a gift — equal to my year’s pledge — had been charged to my credit account. It turns out that it did not happen, but the communication from the organization was clearly misleading. Get the gift right — and be sure it is communicated properly.

Make it easy
How easy is it for a donor to make a gift? Do you have multiple options — from online giving, to stock transfer, to account debit, to mailing a check? Are your phone number and mailing address easy to find on your website? What happens when someone calls to ask a question about making a donation?

I serve on several boards. Half are good about reminding me about my annual gift commitment and where I stand. Your donors have a lot on their plates; a reminder never hurts and usually helps.

We find that one of the top two reasons for bad or lapsed pledges is usually a failure on behalf of the organization to follow up. That lack of follow-up typically reflects a relationship that needs strengthening. And, given time, donors forget their commitments, lose faith in organizations and find others who show more attention.

Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.

Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.

Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.

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