Why is it that some in the charity sector don’t know how to handle donors who may be annoyed with you, donors who may feel you’re not deliverying on what you say you will do.
It’s not rocket science, dealing with disgruntled donors is and should be treated in the same was as businesses would deal with disgrutled customers. Simple, customer service skills are needed.
We all know the importance of having, and maintaining donors and that if donors aren’t happy how this can impact on the work of the organisation; so knowing what to do is important, as is acting in a timely manner.
As with dealing with a grumpy customer, dealing with disatisfied donor means listening to what the donor has to say, not forming judgement, and doing things to placate them whilst sticking with your organisation’s mission and policies.
The key to dealing with donor complaints is to listen, you can’t handle anything if you’re not listening. And by listening, I don’t mean hearing; you need to be able to isolate what the real issue is that the donor has.
Donors don’t just have the choice to call and complain these days, they will (and do) take to email and will share their experiences online; sometimes on your social media platforms, sometimes not. Where ever and however they complain, you need to know and acknowledge their complaint (which may not even be a complaint as such).
It’s important when dealing with any complaint to be patient, to not respond rashly and to show the donor you care about the issue they have raised.
You don’t want to just be answering their immediate concern, you should be referring to other things your organisation is doing to improve donor relations. Remember, people, donors or shoppers simply want to be treated courteously and to be listened to – AND – they want their problems resolved.
If the ”complaint” is online, make sure you repsond, even if you simply say ”thanks for raising your concern, let me look into and I’ll get back to you.” Anything is better than nothing. But, make sure you look into it, and make sure you follow up with the person.
Having said respond to online comments, one thing you should be doing, which many organisations don’t seem to be doing is monitor their social media accounts.
If someone says something on one of your accounts, it’s not just to vent, they do expect a response, so make sure you are getting notified when someone posts on your FaceBook or Twitter, or other site you use. Be timely with any reponse, it shows you care, not only care about the person raising an issue, but it also shows you’re aware and professional to others who seethe post – current and potential supporters.
Not all complaints or concerns will be by letter, phone or online, some people will send an email Most often the email they will send it to will be the firstname.lastname@example.org, but does this ensure the person who can respond gets the email? Probably not, so make sure whoever receives emails to info@ knows what they are expected to do when they receive a complaint or other emails raising concerns.
Whatever way you handle complaints, remember never take it personally, the person complaining isn’t complaining about you, they are complaining about a situation. If you take things personally you will react in ways that won’t do you, the donor or your organisation any favours.
Remember too, that in the main donors are nice, kind and understanding, there are only ever a few occasions when things can go sour, so don’t dwell on the negatives, this won’t do you any good.