Sunday 11 December 2016

We have to do better

Over the last while I have been sharing my experience of 'reactivating' my support to one of my favourite charities after a hiatus.  At the time I explained that although my financial support had stopped for a while, my belief and commitment to the cause itself had not waned.

My frustration for much of this process was in fact the lack of recognition for my past support, the missed opportunity to acknowledge what they already knew about me, to make my support feel valued. After all, I resumed my support spontaneously I wasn't called or mailed, I just took the opportunity to start my financial support again. A perfect example of volunteering versus conscription.

So my story continues. Three months ago I received a telephone call to increase my support. It was actually well scripted and they had obviously done some work to make it dynamic and relevant based on the answers I gave in the conversation. I was convinced and agreed to increase my support, which was about 9 months after I signed up.  I was happy to do it.

Over the last three months since the call I have been waiting for my increase to be actioned,  but this morning I received a letter. It was signed from the supporter care manager and though pretty innocuous and straight forward in its content it kind of annoyed me.
  • The letter itself, though factual and apologetic lacked warmth and detail - the delay was caused by an 'external processing error' apparently. We've all been there when we have external suppliers handling fulfilment for our charities' processing - but it's taken three months to notice..
  • A call would have been better than a letter .. or even an attempt to call.
  • The apology was for inconvenience caused, which if I am being facetious I could argue that I am £15 better off as three months of additional payments have not been taken. That being said the main issue for me is that feeling that this additional support that was so vital and imperative in the call is no longer that important.  It certainly didn't factor in the letter message at all which I feel is a mistake particularly after this amount of time lag.
  • The letter format itself - and yes, I am being picky now but the name and address is a different print density from the main letter, so it feels knocked up rather than specially drafted to apologise to me personally as a supporter. 
  • Not even a 'Merry Christmas' or something suitably non denominational included (it's two weeks away from December 25th!).
This tale, though a bit of a saga is essentially meant to highlight something that we all should know as fundraisers and communicators. Which is that the stages after the fundraising is just as vital as the work that goes into the main campaign or activity.  All that work that went into a rather good fundraising call has been undermined by processes and now a lacklustre supporter care letter.

With even greater scrutiny on how we fundraise and communicate with our supporters and potential supporters which is making things much more challenging - supporter care should no longer be the after thought. It should be planned in upfront with the campaign itself, and done so with fundraiser input to ensure that the experience of elevating the thank you and supporter care around the campaigns is tight and of the highest quality as possible.

It's the time of year, and I could be being a little Grinch like about this - but it's a hard environment and in the coming year, support will be won and lost by the service that supporters and donors receive during sign-up, after sign-up and every stage after that.  So we should stop making our letters look admin like (even if they are), we need to ensure that systems are in place to limit mistakes (more so than ever) but if mistakes do happen that we ensure there is warmth and authenticity in the explanation and the apology.  I don't think that is too much to ask.

Thank you kind reader as ever for stopping by and wishing you a very merry Christmas!

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