Is it time to start treating your donors as customers?

publication date: Dec 30, 2014
author/source: Sharon Batsch

Sharron BatschHave you ever considered that a charity is a business that offers a product or service that a customer can purchase? When you make a donation you are a customer and you are left with a sense that you have made a contribution.  It may be big or small but within your world you have purchased the sense that you are helping someone and that you have made a small difference.

How you treat a customer is very dependent and whether they do repeat business. In some cases, a customer continues to do business no matter how shoddy the service because it’s the only place to purchase what they are looking for. This scenario reeks with potential problems because as soon as a better option comes along the customer is gone.

Consider your favour shopping haunt. When you made your first transaction, did they make you feel like they appreciated your business? When you returned a second time, did they recognize you or greet you in a positive manner? If you were interested in a specific product line, did they recognize it … and even better, as they became more familiar with you did they track your preferences?

Over time were you recognized as a valued customer? How did that make you feel? Did it encourage your patronage? Did you speak to others about your experience and encourage them to support the shop as well? Were you ever invited to a VIP customer evening or did they ever do anything for you in the form of a special gift? Did they update you when changes were forthcoming relative to product lines you select? Did you ever receive a thank you from the service staff that simply acknowledged how much they appreciated your business?

These are the kinds of loyal customers a charity wants and needs. And building this kind of loyalty is something a charity must be prepared to do if they want embrace and retain their customers. There is a great deal of competition in the marketplace for valued donations. When charities become too entitled or too forgetful or too “busy” to look after and engage their customers, your risk long term relationships fading into one off gifts.

Now is a good time to review the tools you are using to manage your customers and whether the information you want and need to retain is being captured in a form that makes every one of the ideas above not only attainable but easy to manage.

Great customer relationships start with a plan that is delivered consistently year after year with the appropriate data capture tools to ensure the job can be performed and performed well.

Sharron Batsch is the developer of @EASE Fund Development Software and the author of From Chaos to Control, Build a High Performance Team Using Knowledge Management. She has worked with a wide variety of charities for over 25 years as both a consultant and volunteer fundraiser and event chair. Her work helps define how charities can best use the data they collect and create. She specializes in information management for the not for profit community.

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