Friday, July 12, 2013

How to turn off your donors

Recently I tried to reach a semi-local nonprofit to donate something to a silent auction. I went to their website, but there was no specific contact information, just a web form that went probably went to a generic address. I never got an email back, so I don't know if the form even works. I found an email address for their executive director online that said it went to their dot org mailbox, but it had apparently been closed, because my email bounced back. On top of that, before I could even send the email form from the website, I had to go through the whole captcha thing, twice. There was a phone number, but it was an answering machine and no one ever called back. There wasn't even a street address so I could just send the item with information and my contact information. Even their donate button required a captcha process.

The organization is 50 miles away, so driving to it wasn't an option. This isn't a small organization. Their budget is well into the millions. They've been around twenty years. They have a staff.

I finally just said the heck with it, and put my item back in the closet. That's a shame because it probably would have generated some good money for their cause.

I see this all the time. Why would any publicly supported nonprofit do this?   Don't make it difficult for people to reach you. Have someone's organizational email on the website. If you use a web form, at least allow it to send an acknowledgement of receipt. Don't make your newsletters private-list only. I get the reasoning behind captcha, but it makes you look as though you don't really want to connect with anyone.

Update - today, three days after the silent auction, and three weeks after my initial attempts to connect with them, someone from the organization, who identified herself as the donor relations manager, did call me but of course by then they had no need for my item, and the person's suggestion that I could just send in a donation instead simply rubbed me the wrong way. When I complained about the process, she said, "well, you  know, if our email was public, people would just bombard us with junk email". They might also bombard them with money or at least interest. What if I wanted to volunteer? What if I was with a foundation that wanted to know more about them? This is donor relations?

As a consultant I find this unprofessional. As a prospective donor, being this impersonal makes me subconsciously wonder what they are trying to hide, and makes me think they don't need my support.  This charity is off my support list. Permanently.

Don't be this nonprofit. Make it easy, painless and efficient for people to connect with you. The friends you make will be worth the junk email. 

No comments:

Post a Comment