Recently, one of our Client Experience Leaders told me a story that a major gift officer relayed to him that left me dumbfounded. But, sadly, not surprised. 

The major gift officer had been working with a donor for a few years when the donor said he wanted to leave a legacy gift of $1MM. Half would go to the organization that the major gift officer works with, and the other half to this donor’s university. 

With our guidance, the major gift officer spent a good deal of time helping the donor with all the details to create this legacy gift of $500,000. The donor felt honored and cared for. And, he felt good about his decision.

About a week later, the donor calls up the major gift officer and says, “I’ve decided that I’d like to give you and your organization the full $1MM donor legacy gift instead of half going to my university.” The major gift officer says, “Well, that’s amazing, but can I ask why you changed your mind about giving to the university?” 

The donor goes on to tell a story that when he approached the university about wanting to make a legacy gift, the university said they didn’t have time to walk him through how to do it, but that he could go on their website and make the gift there. And the donor thought back to what a great experience he had with the other organization, so he wanted to give the full amount of the gift to them. 

I mean, can you imagine? 

Yes, I can. This is one of many stories that Richard, our team, and I hear almost daily. (If you could read our Veritus Slack channel, you’d know what I mean!) 

Now, perhaps to this university, $500,000 is nothing. I mean, maybe they have a policy that they don’t talk to donors unless it’s over a million or something. But I doubt it.

You see, this behavior is rampant in our industry. It’s an attitude that donors are just a means to an end. And, if they get in the way of our busy schedule, or they are not part of our plan, then we don’t have time to serve and support them. 

I’m going to tell you this truth. If you had an overall attitude of serving the donor well and providing excellent donor care, your non-profit would be in the top 1% of non-profits. The vast majority of non-profits do not serve donors with a great customer-service mentality. We treat donors more like a nuisance than part of our mission. 

When was the last time you experienced great customer service? Do you remember what that felt like? 

The other day, my wife and I visited a new restaurant. The server delighted us with what my wife and I would call one of the best dining experiences ever. It was clear that he cared about making our experience a good one. And it is something we will soon not forget. As I was walking to the car, I said to Lindsay: “This is exactly how non-profits should treat their donors. It would make a massive difference in how the donor would feel about that non-profit, and they would bring in so much more revenue.” 

Think about the donors in your portfolio right now. Who do you need to touch base with and see how they are doing? Or who could you send an article to about something the donor is passionate about? Think about one of your donors that may be dealing with health issues or other challenges. Who do you need to lift up today?

These little things add up.