No Wonder Donor Retention Is Hideous
There’s plenty of room for truly standout receipting. The field of nonprofits with great receipting habits is far from crowded, in my experience (both at this year-end and over the past few years when I have given to many more organizations, as well). Here are a few suggestions to make sure your organization takes full advantage of the opportunity to build a relationship with a donor and even cultivate a friend and supporter for life.
Set a standard for issuing receipts, and back it up with some 'teeth'
It’s not enough to simply say, “We want to get our receipts out in five days, seven days, 10 days, whatever.” Policies are known for being written, filed and forgotten. Instead, make it the business of someone in authority to know what every day’s production time is for receipts and if there is a backlog, and make sure someone is empowered to take action if/when standards aren’t met.
I once talked to a large nonprofit that got a receipt to me no more than a week after I mailed my gift. I asked how it accomplished that. The answer? Every morning, a report was given to the CEO, no matter where he was, stating the date received of the oldest donation that had yet to be receipted. With that kind of accountability, it’s no wonder sending receipts was a priority.
Start to cross-train today
If getting receipts out to donors to thank them for their gifts is important (and I believe it is), then no one in the organization is too important to help when there is a (wonderful!) overload of donations. If nothing else, you can open envelopes and paper-clip the check to the reply form or whatever it is you do. Obviously you have to be diligent about security and have procedures that protect both the funds and the donor’s confidentiality, but this doesn’t preclude having a team of people who can be called on to help out for a few hours when there is a need. It’s just good business to take care of your “customers” and make sure their experience in donating to you is pleasant from start to the joy of being thanked.
Pamela consults with nonprofits, helping them develop their fundraising strategy and writing copy to achieve their goals. Additionally, she teaches fundraising at two universities, hoping to inspire the next generation of fundraisers to be passionate about the profession. Previously, Pamela led the fundraising programs for nonprofit organizations. Pamela is a member of the Advisory Panel for Rogare, the fundraising think tank at Plymouth University’s Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, a CFRE, a graduate of Wheaton College (IL) and Dominican University, and holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from California Southern University. Contact Pamela at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.