January 25, 2019 Wiley Stinnett

Question: How do I respond to a donor who says we mail them too much?

Ask Wiley

Answer: None of us enjoy receiving a negative call from a donor. But there are steps you can take that can prevent you from losing much-needed income.

My first action is to look at the organization’s communication calendar. This document reflects every direct mail, digital, and social media communication (and other channels as appropriate) from every department. Oftentimes I’ve found that the donor’s complaint isn’t about too much mail, but rather a matter of timing and messaging.

An up-to-date communications calendar ensures that communications from different areas are planned and properly recorded so that over-communication is avoided.

Second, I would look at the donor’s giving pattern and note any patterns that emerge. This means, for example, if a donor’s gift history shows them only giving in the fall, tailor their communication so they receive newsletters and focus their appeals on the fall season.

Then I would follow these steps:

  • Call them on the same day the complaint is received.
  • Tell them why you’re calling.
  • Acknowledge their complaint.
  • Try to find out what they received that triggered the call (e.g. email, letter, etc.).
  • Talk through their desired communication preferences to identify any adjustments that need to be made.
  • Ask for the donor’s understanding because some communication may already be in the process of being sent to them. However, all changes agreed to will be implemented effective today.
  • After the call, make sure the changes are coded in the database to reflect the donor’s request.

Submit your question at www.douglasshaw.com/askwiley.

We look forward to helping you continue your work of being a part of what is right in the world!

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