How to Revolutionize Your Nonprofit Culture to Stop Losing Your Donors
It's common for retail businesses to adopt the mantra: "The customer is always right." But when's the last time you heard "The donor is always right?" Too often, the opposite is true.
I hear a lot of complaining about donors. They should do this (e.g., give because it's the "right" thing to do; be compliant and not make us work so hard); they shouldn't do that (e.g., give any way other than "unrestricted"; require reports that take staff hours to complete). I don't hear enough of "What can we do to delight our donors today?"
What can you do to delight your donors?
In What is customer service for? Seth Godin reminds us that customer service succeeds when it accomplishes what the organization sets out to accomplish.
Aha! That may be the reason so many nonprofits do such a poor job delighting their donors. They've made no commitment to do so. In fact, they think it's the donors who should be delighting them (with nice fat checks)!
Why you must commit to a customer service culture.
Donors make your mission possible. Without them, your organization has no raison d'etre. Similarly, without you, your donors can't find the meaning they seek. They want to see wrongs righted ... find cures for diseases ... keep people from starving ... but they don't have a clue how to do it on their own. They can only do it through you.
The nonprofit customer service culture is about gratitude.
I implore you to shift your thinking—and the culture of your organization—in the direction of gratitude, rather than greediness, toward your donors. What's important about making this philosophical shift is that it forces you to think very specifically about what you're grateful for.
You aren't simply asking your donors for money. Similarly, you aren't thanking your donors for money.
If you like craft fairs, baseball games, art openings, vocal and guitar, and political conversation, you’ll like to hang out with Claire Axelrad. Claire, J.D., CFRE, will inspire you through her philosophy of philanthropy, not fundraising. After a 30-year development career that earned her the AFP “Outstanding Fundraising Professional of the Year” award, Claire left the trenches to begin her coaching/teaching practice, Clairification. Claire is also a featured expert and chief fundraising coach for Bloomerang, She’ll be your guide, so you can be your donor’s guide on their philanthropic journey. A member of the California State Bar and graduate of Princeton University, Claire currently resides in San Francisco.