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  • Sharron Batsch

Treating Your Donors as Customers

Fundraising has become very much a business and if it hasn’t become a business at your site, it may be time to reconsider.

A charity is a business that offers a product or service that a customer can purchase. Ultimately, when I am a customer I take home the sense that I have made a contribution, it may be big or small but within my world, I have purchased the feeling that I am helping someone or some organization and I 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 is because it’s the only place to purchase what they are looking for. This scenario reeks of potential problems because as soon as a better option comes along the customer is gone.

Consider your favourite shopping haunt. When you made your first transaction, did they make you feel 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 … 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 favoured? Did you ever receive a thank you from the service staff that simply acknowledged how much your business was appreciated?

These are the same customers a charity wants and needs. And these are the things a charity must be prepared to do if they want to embrace and retain their customers. There is a great deal of competition in the marketplace for valued donors and I think valued is the keyword.

When charities become too entitled or forgetful or “busy” to look after and engage its customers. A charity may lose a potential long-term relationship as it fades into a one-off gift experience.

If you are shaking your head, it may be 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.

"The relationship with one's donor is as fragile as a butterfly."

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