How to Revolutionize Your Nonprofit Culture to Stop Losing Your Donors
You thank Nancy because she helped you save a grove of trees. You thank Liam because he helped you put food on a hungry family's table. You thank Tom, Dick and Harry because they make your mission possible.
It is because you are so grateful that customer service becomes a breeze. You want to serve these wonderful heroes—these philanthropists who demonstrate their love of humankind with every gift. These miraculous people who voluntarily give of themselves to assure that every single one of your nonprofit stories has a happy ending.
It's a really good thing when you want to do something that turns out to be the very best thing you can do. Because we know from research (see Blackbaud benchmarking report, Donor-Centered Fundraising, and Donor Retention and Loyalty) that donor service is the single biggest driver of donor loyalty toward your organization.
It Takes a Village
Everyone must get on board. Which means you need buy-in, from the top down. Your donors only know one organization. They don't care which department you work in. If the fundraiser treats the donor well, but the receptionist treats them rudely, then your hard work is destroyed.
Make the practice of customer service part of your new employee orientation. Make it part of everyone's job description to interact with donors. Include the daily practice of gratitude in your employee handbook. If you want your donors to stay uplifted by their philanthropy then you've got to practice gratitude as a way of life.
And it takes a village, because gratitude must be repeated in order to stick.
Here's why: Psychological research on gratitude by Seligman and Steen indicates that one-time acts of gratitude quickly lose their effect. They found that a one-time act of thoughtful gratitude produced an immediate 10 percent increase in happiness for folks who were the gratitude recipients, but the effect was cut in half within a week and was completely gone within six months.