The Best Response When a Monthly Donor Calls to Cancel
A monthly donor calling up to cancel is a dreaded call for any organization. It’s something nobody wants to hear. But it’s important to respond in the right way.
Bloomerang’s Steven Shattuck posted an article on his experience canceling as a monthly donor.
So, let’s provide you with the best response when this happens at your organization. This requires you to get all of the people answering the phones at your organization in a room for a few minutes and come up with a process document and some guidelines.
(Frankly, it’s always good to get together with those answering donor calls just to get feedback and prevent bad donor experiences. They’re the first to find out if there’s a problem!)
First off: A donor who calls you is a tremendous donor. He or she cares about you!
So if the donor calls to cancel their monthly donation, make sure that you immediately respond with a grateful thank you for being a monthly donor. No matter how short or long that was.
Then listen and find out why the donor wants to cancel. Is it something that you as the organization did, or does it have to do with a change in the donor’s situation? Because that determines the best way to respond.
If it’s a change in the donor’s financial situation, say “thank you” again for their wonderful monthly support and ask if they’re interested in a payment break or a decrease in their monthly amount. Often times the donor didn’t realize that they could do that and it may be something they’re willing to do. If they’re taking a payment break, ask them when’s a good time to contact them to follow up.
Really make them feel comfortable about this option and make sure they feel appreciated, then stop the monthly donor in your system and make sure you follow-up at the time you promised you would follow-up. Make as many notes as possible, so you know down the road.
If the donor wants to decrease the amount, even better! You’ve just saved a monthly donor.
If their reason for canceling is because it’s something you did, again, thank them for their wonderful support and see if there’s something you can do to put them at ease. If it’s too many mailings or emails, you can reduce that number and see if they’re willing to rethink their decision. If it has to do with your organization’s refocus or something else, then you may not be able to save them.
I do recommend noting the reason for canceling in your system, so you can take this into consideration when you’re making a selection of past monthly donors for reactivation purposes in future.
Any donor calling your organization cares enough about you to pick up the phone. Make them feel special and appreciated no matter what. You may be able to keep them!
Erica Waasdorp is one of the leading experts on monthly giving. She is the president of A Direct Solution, a company serving nonprofit organizations with fundraising and direct marketing needs, with a focus on monthly giving and appeals. She authored "Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant" and "Monthly Giving Made Easy." She regularly blogs and presents on fundraising, appeals and monthly giving — in person and through webinars. She is happy to answer any questions you may have about this great way of improving retention rates for your donors.
Erica has over 30 years of experience in nonprofits and direct response. She helped the nonprofits she works with raise millions of dollars through monthly giving programs. She is also very actively supports organizations with annual fund planning and execution, ranging from copywriting, creative, lists, print and mail execution.
When she’s not working or writing, Erica can be found on the golf course (she’s a straight shooter) or quietly reading a book. And if there’s an event with a live band, she and her husband, Patrick, can be found on the dance floor. She also loves watching British drama on PBS. Erica and Patrick have two step sons and a cat, Mientje.