$5,000 pledge ignored

in Cultivation & Stewardship

In a nutshell, that’s exactly what happened to a donor – true story.

Charity grabs money and runs
.Before you sit there aghast and state how that could never happen at your charity . . . ask yourself this: What systems do you have in place to guarantee that donors are not ignored?

For example:

How do you make certain every gift receives a prompt thank you – an acknowledgement letter and/or email?

How do you stay in touch with your monthly donors – your sustainers? Especially those on automatic payment from their bank account or with a credit card.

How do you report back to donors who responded to a specific campaign and tell them about the progress being made on that project?

I bet you can think of a few more examples as well.

But what about that $5,000 pledge that was ignored?

I read about it in a recent blog post by Richard Perry of Veritus Group. Here’s the story he told:

Donor is asked by the charity to make a pledge for matching dollar-for-dollar money. Donor loved the charity so she pledged $5,000. The organization persuaded her to convert that to a $100 per month automatic payment from the donor’s personal bank account. And they showered her with gratitude.

It’s at this point that the charity – with pledge secured and the initial “thank-you’s” out of the way – ignored this valuable donor.

Not a peep from the charity. Yet this faithful and loyal donor continued these automatic payments for about three years. [I wouldn’t have stuck around anywhere near that long.]

Donor stopped the automatic payments and began mailing in personal checks on an IRREGULAR basis. Still nothing from the charity.

Finally this ignored and formerly loyal donor stopped giving. She had sent about $4,000 of the $5,000 pledge at this point. She never heard from the charity even after stopping all giving.

Amazing but true. Sad but true. Woefully neglectful and shameful behavior by the charity.

Among other things, to me this is an example of lazy cultivation. The charity clearly doesn’t have basic systems in place to track the behavior of their donors. They let the file go cold. They lost a terrific donor.

And guess what? They may lose more donors and revenue as she tells people about her bad experience!

This charity grabbed the money and ran.

The charity also failed to tell the donor how important she is to them on a regular basis.

They chased her away and into the arms of another charity. Hopefully to one who cares about donors and shows it.

Give and you shall receive. Giving is what the charity in our story failed to do. They failed to give this donor – and how many others – the attention and emotional satisfaction that donors deserve … and that donors demand.

As a consequence of not giving the donor what she deserved, the nonprofit didn’t receive all the pledged money and won’t receive anymore from this “lost” donor.

As donors we don’t receive a product in exchange for our money. This is why, as the charity, you must satisfy our emotional reasons for donating. You must keep us informed. You must say thank you more than once. You must let us know you care about us and not only our money. You must NOT take donors for granted and assume they’ll stay with you. You must … well; I hope you get the idea on what you must give donors.

Behave anything like the charity in our story and you’ll lose a whole lot more than one donor and a few thousand dollars. Get those systems in place to properly monitor and track your donors.

Related posts:

Feeling Ignored. Donors and Members Retaliate.

When Good Service Whispers, People Listen. – treating donors right

Sad Major Donor Story

Resource for this post: “Donor asks…Do you miss me?” by Veritus Group

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Wendy August 15, 2013 at 8:50 am

If the statistics [way of life at most nonprofits] hold true, there were probably at least two different directors of development within the period of the offense. Sad, but true. Continuity in donor relations is seriously effected by the constant revolving door in the field.

One of the first things I do in a new position is go to my Planned Giving, monthly, and major donors and take notes on their connection, commitments and passions. Because there usually aren’t any call reports either!

But, point made– Monthly = golden donors!

Karen Zapp, copywriter August 15, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Thanks for sharing your perspective, Wendy. And it sounds like you’re a savvy fundraiser who takes extra steps on your own to avoid overlooking valuable donors.

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