I’ve written about it before: The importance of exceeding your donors’ and members’ expectations; of giving them exceptional service … and an exceptional experience with your nonprofit.

Yesterday that’s what Jeff Brooks wrote about in his blog, Future Fundraising Now: How skimping on your donors can make you lose your shirt.

He reminded readers that cutting corners and skimping on what you do for supporters comes at a high price.

And it’s a price you often can’t easily or readily measure. But it’s there just the same.

In other words: They stop coming back.

Donors stop sending in gifts. They may even be saying negative things about your nonprofit behind your back.

Members stop renewing. Or maybe they don’t buy anymore books, webinars, or other products and services.

Bottom line is that your bottom line suffers. You raise less revenue.

Jeff Brooks also shared examples of how you might be skimping donors:

Slow as molasses to say thanks for the gift. You drizzle out the thank you letters several weeks later.

You bore them with vague statements of need and mind-numbing statistics. You don’t make the effort to share inspiring stories.

You don’t report back on what donors made possible; or else your newsletters and other comms are all about how great you are. (In the case of associations – you don’t talk about the progress their support as a member made possible in your industry.)

You don’t give them something specific and exciting to sink their teeth into. All appeals are for raising undesignated funds. You save all the good stuff for foundations and major donors.

Read his post. His point and how he illustrates it is “spot on.”

Don’t skimp. Be careful of the corners you cut. It drives away supporters and you raise less revenue.

His message reminds me of a cliché. What is it? Oh yes: Being penny wise and pound foolish.

Related posts:

Because you care and they need to know you care … valid 52 weeks of the year

Don’t encourage donors to choose another nonprofit over yours

What are they saying behind your back?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen Hirsch May 9, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Dear Karen,

Your newsletter is always full of great information. The “Cutting Corners” article hits the nail on the head. I consult for several nonprofits and have discussed this subject repeatedly, always to be told budget drives cutbacks.

One more item that should be added is “don’t cut corners on editing!” Errors in spelling a donor’s name (even after a gift) or address, and typos throughout communications really turn off an audience. Nothing worse than getting a “thank you for your generous check” with your name misspelled!

Thanks for a really useful and well-written newsletter,
Karen Hirsch
Creative Director, Hirsch Design & Communications

Karen Zapp, copywriter May 12, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Thanks for your kind remarks regarding my blog posts, Karen!

I too find it frustrating advising clients in this area. We want to help them, yet their immediate crisis (e.g., a budget getting slashed), makes it more difficult for them to see the forest for the trees. They think cutting back solves the immediate budget problem … when in fact they end up creating a larger, more long term problem.

And I certainly agree with your comment on taking care to proof communications. Especially for how a donor or member’s name is spelled. Few items are as personal as our own name: 1) that someone remembers it and uses it; 2) that it is spelled correctly; and 3) when talking one-on-one that our name is pronounced correctly.

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