Although I doubt it’s intentional, far too many fundraisers spend far too much time and money biting the hands that feed their organization.

It happens every day. Poor donor service. Lousy communications. Little or no donor recognition … sometimes not even a simple thank you.

Of course this pitiful lack of concern for the donor is reflected in the equally pitiful retention rates of most organizations. On average 7 out of every 10 new donors hit the exits by the end of their first year.

Is it really too much to show donors at least the same measure of generosity we assume — and expect — they’ll show us?

Of course there are plenty of bean counting CFOs and CEOs who’ll quickly say “we can’t afford to do X, Y or Z” when it comes to treating donors as the valuable asset they are. Meeting this year’s bottom line is paramount. The future be damned.

If you’re working with a cheap — or worse yet — ignorant CEO, Board, CFO or client, you’ll want to send them this piece from Eddie Yoon of the Harvard Business Review’s Blog Network.

It’s about the remarkable turnaround of Netflix. Read and heed.

As you may recall, two years ago Netflix faced a tsunami of cancellations thanks to a bonehead decision of its founder. Like so many nonprofit CEOs he figured he had a terrific service, could raise prices and eliminate services. The customer be damned. In an Agitator post at the time I warned of the pending disaster, and noted that all too many nonprofits follow similar paths.

Netflix’s founder saw the light and transformed Netflix into a ‘generous’ company. Dynamite programming. Lots of significant benefits. All leading to great viewer experiences and, in turn, positive buzz and a flood of new subscribers.

In return for the company’s ‘generosity, last month Netflix reported a banner quarter with huge subscriber growth and a mighty impressive spurt in its stock price.

Take time to read — and share — Eddie Yoon’s HBR piece for the full story, plus learn how other ‘generous’ companies like Nordstrom’s, Gillette and Southwest Airlines place consumer-centric behavior at the heart of their growth strategies.

Then, take some time to figure out what simple acts of generosity your organization can and should offer your donors. I can guarantee you it isn’t another set of mailing labels, four more tote bags, or an umbrella. (See our post on premiums!)

Maybe it’s an out-of-the-blue ‘On this 5th Anniversary of your first gift, thank you’ … or maybe an advance copy of the annual report … or a copy/video of a field report … or a pack of press clips or stack of photos showing what your organization has accomplished, thanks to the donor.

Amazing things happen when organizations stop treating donors like some human ATM to be milked and milked, and begin reciprocating with generosity of their own.

What are your favorite acts of generosity?




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