Nonprofit professionals will tell you that nonprofits exist to meet the needs of our constituents. While that is absolutely true, we also have to maintain strong relationships with our donors who fund the programs that serve our constituents. When you think about it, customer service and donor stewardship are not so different. So how can we utilize the key principles of customer service to develop better relationships with our donors? Here are JB+A’s “Top 5 Customer Service Tips” to make every donor feel like your only donor.
1. Communication is Key
In the for-profit sector, effective and regular communication ensures that customers come back. Why should the nonprofit sector be any different? In fact, there’s an added challenge for nonprofits in that their donors do not directly experience the services they are paying for. For-profits can sometimes get away with a lack of communication through effective branding, word of mouth, etc., but nonprofits don’t have that luxury. The promise of the next gift can only be cultivated through effective and regular communication with your donors.
2. Consider the Competition
Lots of for-profits do a competitor analysis to distinguish themselves from the competition and snatch up the market share. For nonprofits, that market share is the donor pool. There are thousands of organizations for donors to choose from – so what is your organization doing to attract and retain your donors? Outstanding customer service is an effective way for for-profits to keep customers coming back and nonprofits can do the same. Consider how you can set yourself apart. Make donating to your organization more than a pleasant experience for your donors – an experience that goes above and beyond the organic, emotional satisfaction they get from donating. Create a stewardship program that compels your supporters to stay involved and spread the message about your organization.
3. Embed Customer Service in Your Culture
Many for-profits reward their employees for exceptional customer service and satisfaction. The most effective employee incentive programs reward creativity and initiative when going above and beyond to please the customer. Make sure your organization’s staff are committed to serving your donors as much as you – the fundraisers – are. Give them the tools and space to build their own relationships with key individuals and your donors will feel loved and recognized by the entire staff, not just the fundraisers.
4. Go Directly to the Source
For-profits utilize customer feedback in order to improve their services. Approach your donors in the same way a for-profit looking to improve its services would approach a customer. Does your donor feel properly informed about where his/her donations are going? Do they understand how their gifts are making an impact on the organization’s overall goals? Are they aware of the progress and results of your campaigns? Enhancing your donors sense of access gives them a feeling of ownership in your organization’s activities.
5. Stay Organized
Some of the best fundraisers make their supporters feel like they are the organization’s only donor. Despite the fact that nonprofit fundraisers typically juggle large portfolios of major donors simultaneously, they must be encyclopedic in their knowledge of each and every one of them. A good central donor database is key to effectively managing your donors. A good system will ensure they aren’t contacted multiple times by different departments and your relationships with them can be tracked clearly. Most of them have built-in alert systems so your fundraisers and Executive Director can stay on top of their relationships. It’s a simply step, but it makes all the difference.