Dees’ strategy resulted in increased donor bonding, with many donors joining the sustainer program and pledging regular contributions. As he explained, donors just want to know they have been heard. A personal and quick explanation on the organization’s part often will be rewarded with even more loyalty by the complaining donor.
Such a strategy also will work for other types of complaints. If a donor complains about the use of telemarketing, tell her why your organization uses it. If a donor complains about a stance your group has taken on an issue, send a thorough reply explaining why the organization did what it did. You’ll be surprised by positive responses from donors who are grateful
to know that their opinions are important.
If the complainer is someone who’s never donated to your organization before, and who probably is responding to an acquisition effort, there are other considerations to incorporate into your response.
For organizations that address politically sensitive issues, complainers might disagree with your stance. If this is the case, a response generally isn’t needed, although do yourself and the complainer a favor by including the individual on a do-not-solicit suppression file, which you should use with each merge/purge.
What if the complainer is belligerent? Calls you names? Thankfully, the days when such characters attach your BRE to a brick and mail it back are long gone. But such individuals still gladly will send you letters filled with vitriol. While it might give you temporary enjoyment to answer these people in kind, such a letter could find its way back to your boss or, worse, the press. Avoid the temptation and just add the complainer to your suppression file.
Jim Hussey is president of Adams Hussey & Associates. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.