5 Ways to Improve Donor Relations - Charity Savant

5 Ways to Improve Donor Relations

Remember the last time you called the call center for your cable company? Waiting on the phone for what feels like days, listening to terrible muzak is not an experience we go out of our way to have. If you’re like most people, you put off calling just so you don’t have to muddle your way through a directory and sit on hold all day.

Donors go out of their way to give to charities, and when they call us to make a donation or update their contact info, they expect better customer service than they receive for products or services that they’ve purchased. Why? Because we’re a sector that cares, and donors know that we care about them too.

It’s important to think about your donors’ first point of contact with your organization. What’s their experience like before they actually get to talk to someone? Are you inadvertently making your organization hard to reach?

Here are 5 easy ways you can improve the donor experience – before they even talk to you!

1. People give to people, so make sure that the contact info you provide is for a real live human being.

One with a name. Put this person’s name and contact info on your website, materials, and direct mail so that your donors know who they’re calling.

2. Get rid of directories (if you can).

No one likes to Press 1 for fundraising. In an ideal world, a receptionist would answer and direct calls, and the person responsible for responding to donors would have a direct line. If you have to have a directory, use understandable language. Development and fundraising are words that might confuse your donors. Use “donations” instead.

3. Use a voicemail message that gives people information.

Include your office hours so donors can gauge when to expect a response, or will understand that you don’t have someone picking up the phones at 9pm. If you’re in meetings all day, gone for the weekend or a few days, change your message to reflect this.

4. If there’s information that will speed up the inquiry process, leave those details in your voice mail message.

For example, you can tell donors who want to be taken off your mailing list to leave their full name, complete address, and contact information in their message. This way you’re not playing telephone tag to get those details, and can just call them back to confirm it was done.

5. If your organization does use a phone directory…

…chances are you’ll have a handful of people who hit random numbers and end up on the line with someone who’s not equipped to help them. Make sure that you’ve trained all your staff on how to respond and where calls get transferred. Some donors might be grumpy about being transferred so you can always ask staff to take their contact info down to pass along.

Most importantly respond promptly. You can do all of the above, and still leave your donors hanging. Make it your policy to respond within 24 hours.

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