publication date: Sep 6, 2012
author/source: Heather Brown
I bet you've been on the receiving end of a phone call from
one of your donors, looking to vent frustration about a recent mailing or
telemarketing call from your organization.
As you listen to the donor ramble on about how the call was
an unwelcome interruption to their dinner ritual or how the mailing was the
fifth one this year, you may find yourself zoning out - but listen up!
From complaint to
What your donor is trying to tell you is that she cares. She
cares enough to pick up the phone and let you know about it! In a marketplace
jammed with email messages, Facebook likes, telemarketing calls and direct
mail, the fact that you have two minutes of your donor's time is a golden
opportunity for you to strengthen her relationship with your organization.
You want to embrace the opportunity! Of course you want to
apologize first if the approach used was upsetting to your donor. Thank her for
taking the time to call, and be honest with her. Tell her why you called or
mailed, and offer to make a note of her communication preferences.
And be sure to thank her for their loyal support! Tell her
how their donations are changing a child's life, keeping Bob off the streets, providing
a roof over 15-year-old Trevor's head or helping ensure that Bill and Martha
are receiving the kind of care she'd want for her loved ones.
What your donor wants to feel is validated. Often just the
act of picking up the phone and complaining can provide instantaneous relief!
If you just allow her to vent, I can almost guarantee that when your donor
hangs up the phone, your organization will be better off for it.
This month's tip
Turn a complaint call
into an opportunity to strengthen a donor's relationship with your
- Let your donor tell you what's wrong.
Don't try and interrupt, just let him talk.
- Everyone likes to feel that he's been
heard. Once the donor is finished speaking, formulate a question that will
get him to repeat what he is upset
- Everyone likes to know that what he has
said matters. Repeat his complaint, letting him know you have heard
- Thank him for taking the time to call and
let you know he is upset.
- Be honest - tell him what the letter or
call hoped to accomplish.
- Offer to record his communication
- Thank him for his support and tell him how his past donations have made a
The next time you receive a call from a disgruntled donor,
sit back, relax, and enjoy the opportunity!
more than 10 years in the nonprofit sector helping to raise money for various
worthy charities, Heather Brown
decided to join the Good Works team and put her experience to work to help Good
Works' clients reach their fundraising goals. She's passionate about direct
mail and legacy marketing and strives to help her clients make a positive
impact on the community.
Heather by email