Gratitude is nice but showing it isn’t a given

On Saturday afternoon I was trying to book my train for a quick trip to Toronto. I’m going to see David Gray in concert and I’m super excited, I mean REALLY excited!excited

I digress….as I tried and tried to book the ticket, I learned that my credit card had been compromised. A new card was sent to me and I began my journey to notify all the merchants and organizations where I have set up recurring charges. Of those, I have monthly donations with four charities.

One by one, I called and managed to get things sorted out quickly. However, the responses I received from the charities I have been supporting for years were anything but heartwarming, except for one.

Let me explain.

Let’s start with the good:

  • All four charities were friendly and appreciated that I called instead of waiting for the payment to be refused (honestly, I couldn’t handle the embarrassment!)
  • All the calls took less than 3 minutes to complete
  • The process was easy and painless

The not so good:

  • Two charities treated me like I was a stranger making a transactional request, not like a valued monthly donor
  • One charity’s receptionist didn’t even know who was in charge of handling my call
  • One charity took a message and said if there was a problem the person in charge would call me
  • Only one charity thanked me for my monthly donation

The amazing! Only one charity, the Canadian Red Cross, stood out from the bunch:

  • The telephone system allowed donors to chose between making a donation (press 1), monthly donors (press 2), etc.
  • After I explained why I was calling, the agent thanked me for my monthly gift and immediately gave me a concrete example of what my monthly donation realizes
  • I provided my new credit card number and asked why I have never been asked to upgrade my gift since I became a monthly donor in 2016. She explained that they sometimes do upgrade calls but they try to limit it so as to not bother donors too often.
  • I appreciated her candid and honest response.

Do you know what happened?

I doubled my monthly donation and explained that I wanted to do that because her impeccable donor-loving service impressed me. Her response was amazing! She was taken by surprise and without skipping a beat, she immediately shared with me the impact my gift will have on vulnerable families.

What can we learn from this experiences?

  • Treat what appears like mundane and administrative calls from donors as an opportunity to show gratitude and impact
  • Always make sure your receptionist knows who is in charge of credit cards/finance questions from donors
  • Have an easy to use telephone system
  • A call from a donor is an opportunity to thank the donor, they are doing YOU a favour by notifying you of a credit card change, don’t treat it as yet another thing to do

So what am I expecting from the Red Cross now? Maybe a legacy ask!wink

3 thoughts on “Gratitude is nice but showing it isn’t a given

  1. I did a call on behalf of clients while doing financial planing work to 7 charities that they wished to leave legacy gifts to. 2 Orgs reception folks tried to prevent me from speaking to the ED, who was in charge of planned gifts. 2 other orgs had receiption line folks who said that they didn’t think they accepted that kind of gift, but would check into it for us….crazy! Your front line staff need to absolutely be trained to speak/think/act like fundraisers!!!!

    1. Hi Ryan, yes I remember those numbers from your session at the CAGP conference. It’s absolutely insane. I remember many years ago when I worked at a small shop, the front desk staff would take donations or try to answer donation-related questions and then pass along a message while I was physically in the office. What. In. The. World?!! And this is despite me training them and giving them clear instructions and procedures to follow. SMH!

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