Supporter Services – getting the basics right
I’ve been involved in a few projects recently which have required me to ‘test out’ some of the services charities offer to their donors. So I’ve researched the organisations, emailed queries, set up direct debits and even sent in a few good old fashioned letters and cheques. Then sat back ready to enjoy the donor experience…I expect you know what’s coming next and let’s be honest we all hear nightmare stories about poor service every now and again when a new mystery shopping service is launched. But whilst it’s uncomfortable reading, I do feel that it needs to be said again – we need to get the basics of supporter service right.
Whilst the causes I’ve ‘tested’ out all do fantastic work to support their beneficiaries, I have more often than not been quite disappointed by the ‘donor experience’. Donations have sometimes not been acknowledged (even though cheques have been cashed), requested information not sent, emails not replied to and in the case of a local issue that I’ve done some grass roots community fundraising for, calls not returned – even when a potentially large donation has been involved.
This isn’t intended as a rant, it’s more of a plea for charities to give supporter services the priority it deserves. I appreciate that some organisations don’t have the technology or budgets to develop more advanced ways to offer supporters more control – self service on their website, preference databases, channel control etc. But that’s no excuse for not getting the basics right – a prompt thank you, a returned call or the sending of an information pack that’s been requested.
Charities are investing in their brands more and more but without investment in supporter services, this is potentially wasted money. How the phones are answered, whether data is displayed correctly on your thank you letter, whether a call is returned promptly – these are all day to day brand experiences. Get it wrong and you’ve got a ‘leaky bucket’ and your very expensive recruitment campaign is in vain.
In this economic climate, supporter retention is vitally important and I would argue that ensuring your supporter services team have the right plans in place and the tools and resources they need to exceed supporter’s expectations should be high on every Fundraising Director’s ‘to-do’ list.