Customer Service for Nonprofits: 4 Ways to Retain Donors
At their core, nonprofits are service-oriented. And while there are distinctions between the way for-profit and nonprofit entities run, the standards of customer service apply equally between the two. Superior customer service boosts the value of your nonprofit to both recipients and donors and is an easy way to establish a solid donor-retention process.
Move your first-time donors into recurring contributors and brand advocates by concentrating on solid customer service processes within your entire organization.
Understand Your Audiences
Bucket your audiences into two groups: participants (donors) and recipients (those who benefit from your nonprofit’s services). Outline their wants, needs and pain points to tailor messaging and touchpoints (e.g., customer service).
- What drives them to give?
- What story do they want to hear?
- How easy is it for them to find what they need?
- What are their communication preferences?
- How often do you reach out?
- How do they find out about your services?
- How convenient is it for them to come to you/benefit from what you provide?
- What would make it easier for them?
- What stories and experiences do they have that you can share with others (e.g., donors)?
4 Areas of Great Customer Service Concentration
1. Donor and Recipient Journeys
To understand what your audience wants, you first must understand where and how they come to you. In other words, how do they interact with your nonprofit? Those interactions are the basis for which channels you use to provide responses, information and guided touch points to make them feel special.
These “customer journeys,” as they are called in the for-profit world, can inform you as to what your donors value, how they like to be appreciated, and which strategies you can take going forward.
2. Dedication and Loyalty
Consider why you become loyal to an organization or brand. The quality of the service or product? The extra mile someone took to teach you about something that was unfamiliar to you? The personal communication that made you feel worthy? All of these are notions that your donors and recipients think about.
Set standards within your team related to response times — emails, phone calls, etc. — and talk about additional ways to build loyalty among your audience. This dedication can not only translate to more dollars raised, but also positive reviews and accolades about your organization to family, friends and acquaintances.
3. Trust and Transparency
Don’t hide behind the numbers. An easy way to exude excellent customer service is through transparency. Provide information on your website, as well as in social media posts, monthly emails and annual reports about how money raised is spent, and how donations impact your organization and those you serve.
Always provide an option for feedback. Use your website to gather information about what you’re doing well and what donors or participants would like to see done better via online or event surveys.
When a gift is made online, consider asking questions around why the donor gave or how they felt about the online transaction process. While we don’t want to inundate our donors with questions and surveys, we also don’t want to be afraid to hear what they have to say. Connect with your donors and show them you truly care about their opinions.
Build a positive reputation through solid customer service strategies. How we treat others is the basis for how they respond to us — the same holds true in all areas of your nonprofit. Assess your current customer service protocols — phone call follow-ups, thank-you letters, email communication and general answers to submitted questions. What could you do to up your game and take your customer service from good to great? Make that your priority year-round.
Ronald Pruitt is the president and founder of 4aGoodCause, an easy-to-use and effective online fundraising platform for small nonprofits. Ronald has more than 24 years of experience helping nonprofit organizations build websites and raise millions of dollars online for good causes. This extensive experience has made Ronald an expert in user-friendly online fundraising and understanding what drives donors to give online.