Listen Understand Act“I will not give another penny until my name is corrected in your system! My name is Sally Goose!”

If, along with this comment, Ms. Goose gives a donation, and her acknowledgment letter arrives, weeks later, still addressed to Silly Goose, she is unlikely to give again.

“In last month’s newsletter, you mentioned that Melanie is losing her sight. She is so young. How is Melanie? Was anyone able to help her?”

If, because of this comment, this donor’s acknowledgment letter included a ‘p.s.’ that offered an update on Melanie and thanked the donor for their concern, that donor is likely to give again.

“I loved the baseball-themed bookmarks you sent! I love football, too!”

If, because of this comment, the donor’s acknowledgment package was flagged to receive a football-themed premium, the donor feels heard by and connected to their charity. They are likely to give again.

Donors typically prepare and mail gifts as part of their normal bill-paying activities. To take a moment from that drudgery to give a gift and dash off a note to a charity you are happy to support is a welcome respite. (After all, we give because we want to. We pay bills because we have to.) When the forthcoming acknowledgement letter can reflect and respond to those comments, the conversation continues, and the relationship grows.

When we feel listened to, respected, and acknowledged, loyalty builds with each positive exchange.

When we feel ignored, our opinion of the other party will sour. After all, who keeps talking when it’s clear you aren’t being heard?

How can fundraisers listen and respond to their donors with the respect, urgency, and attention to detail that these conversations merit?

  • Insist upon a caging provider that collects and conveys donor updates like email addresses, phone numbers, mailing preference requests, and other comments at the point of processing.
  • Reputable donation processing facilities use imaging technology and recognition engines to identify and move transactions with handwriting or other actionable comments directly to a Data Entry Operator for accurate and reliable coding.
  • Avoid cagers who ‘bank the money’ first, and ‘collect the data’ later (or not at all.) The financial savings implied by this approach obscures the true costs to fundraisers: hidden bank fees and erosion to the donor file because those who sought a deeper relationship with the charity were ignored.
  • Quality donation processors are true partners in their client’s charitable vision. They are the first responder in understanding how donors are reacting to fundraising efforts, and are experts in translating donor comments into data that can ultimately be used to create and cultivate healthy, vital donor relationships.

Suzann Kandt is a Project and Account Manager at Innovairre Communications, which supports more than 500 nonprofit organizations around the world. For more information about donation processing and nurturing donor relationships, contact us at Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.