We all try our very best to personally communicate with our generous donors. That goes without saying. In fact, we try so hard to not forget anyone that today’s organizations rely on technology in virtually every aspect of their programs….from generating invitation lists, to prioritizing prospects, and standardizing gift acknowledgements.
That’s great – don’t get me wrong! In today’s world it’s unheard of NOT to rely on technology. Seriously….as your donor base grows there’s really no other way to do it!
But, here’s the downside: inaccurate or unclear information can be devastating to all the work that you put into establishing that all important relationship with your donors.
I recently put together a proposal for one of my major donors to fund multiple programs and projects. It took weeks getting together with the dean, director, and chairs of our many departments. Each department pitched their needs for the coming year, including both new and existing research projects, and faculty and student support needs. I compiled budgets for each project at varying levels of funding. The donor even came in to meet with the leadership team and I arranged for tours and presentations of some of the projects under consideration.
The proposal was submitted, the donor convened with their community investment committee, and we were told that they would support our proposal at the full asking amount.
It was great news for the many students, faculty, and programs that the donation would support!
The problem came when the acknowledgement was sent out through our automated process. The fund names in our internal system did not match the program descriptions in the proposal. The donation amounts in the acknowledgement were correct, but the inconsistent program names really caused confusion on the donor’s end.
I had to respond quickly to the donor who needed to report to his committee on the discrepancy. They wanted to make sure that there was no misrepresentation of the use of the funds. I reassured them that everything was accurate and tried my best to explain our automated system. In the long run, the donor understood and it all worked out.
The lesson for me, and hopefully anyone reading this post, is that technology is great to get the massive amounts of paperwork out each day. But, it’s important to see things through the donor’s eyes. After choosing your organization to support, they expect accuracy in even the smallest details.
Donors expect and deserve the personal touch, and it’s up to us to take the time and make the extra effort to provide it for them.
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