10 Tips to Save You from Becoming a Horrible Warning

“It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.” — Unknown

A couple of weeks ago, I shared with you the news that the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance has outperformed the fundraising efforts of the average human services organization (Giving USA 2011: Good News or More Bad News?). I even shared some insights about how PCA was able to accomplish this feat despite the recession.

In this post, I’ll be taking a different approach. I’m going to share with you information about the Foundation Fighting Blindness. Rather than serving as an example of what a nonprofit organization should do, it serves as a warning about what organizations should never do in their telephone fundraising programs and other development efforts. I also provide ten tips to help you avoid making the same mistakes as the Foundation.

I suffer from Retinitis Pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that will lead to my blindness by the time I reach age 72, unless a cure or treatment is discovered. The Foundation funds research about RP and macular degeneration. Because of my obvious interest in the work the Foundation funds, my wife and I have been generous financial supporters for many years. In addition, before selling my former direct response agency, I managed a successful pilot phone fundraising campaign for the Foundation many years ago.

Photo by Brian Wright (via Flickr, BaronBrian)

Over the years, I’ve fought many battles with the Foundation. For example, it took years of effort before they would acknowledge gifts as coming from both my wife and me; for the longest time, despite my objections and both our names appearing on the checks, they insisted on only recognizing me. More recently, I was invited to a dinner-in-darkness fundraising event. I objected for reasons I won’t get into here; I requested not to be invited in the future. Guess what? A year later, I received another invitation to a similarly styled event. Last year, I received a generic telephone fundraising call. At my giving level, I was surprised to be included in the phone campaign. I had other problems with the call, made by a telephone fundraising vendor. So, I called the Foundation and was connected to a lower-level development staff member. As I told the phone fundraising caller, I again requested not to be included in future phone fundraising campaigns. I also requested a call from the Chief Development Officer or Chief Executive Officer. I also offered my services on a pro bono basis; I’m a telephone fundraising pioneer and even wrote the Foreword to the definitive book on the subject, Effective Telephone Fundraising by Stephen F. Schatz, CFRE. To my great surprise, there was zero follow-up. However, I was included in this year’s phone fundraising effort despite my request not to be!

When I received this year’s call, I saved my breath. I told the caller that I would “consider” renewing my support. By the way, the call was again generic, did not acknowledge my very generous past support, and did not recognize my many years of involvement with the Foundation. The caller, in his long monologue, did not even mention any specific research projects that would be of interest to me.

Would you like to guess what I did after I got off the phone? That’s right. I picked the phone back up and called the Foundation office and left an after-hours voice mail message. I did get to speak to a lower-level development staff person. I shared my enormous frustration with the Foundation, its failure to behave in a donor-centric fashion, and it misappropriate handling of its relationship with me. This person was savvy enough to apologize and have the Chief Development Officer contact me. Unfortunately, the CDO was defensive. Furthermore, he failed to satisfactorily acknowledge my special relationship with the Foundation, and he was completely disinterested in tapping my direct-response expertise. I think the CDO should take donor-relations lessons from the staff member I spoke with first.

The final insult came when I received my “considering” letter from the phone fundraising vendor. The letter came in a window envelope with metered postage instead of a live stamp. This is not exactly the best way to make an appeal seem personal. Furthermore, the envelope contained the screaming message, “URGENT: Your pledge confirmation is enclosed.” That’s nice, except I did not make a pledge, a point acknowledged by the letter inside; I only told the caller I would “consider” making a pledge. But, I opened the envelope anyway. It was at that point that I noticed that the letter had been misaddressed to my wife. It wasn’t addressed to me. It wasn’t addressed to my wife and me. It was addressed only to my wife! The text of the letter acknowledged that she was only “considering” support. The letter went on to say that “many studies” need funding. However, it did not cite any specific research projects, particularly any that involve my disease. It was a weak letter. It was also an ugly form letter with an attached response card. Again, not the way to make a personal appeal, especially not to a significant donor. The letter used a modest font size and a sans-serif (i.e.: Arial) typeface; knowing that a large number of the Foundation’s donors — therefore, a large number of recipients of the letter — are effected by degenerative eye disease, a larger font size should have been used along with an easier to read serif font (i.e. Times New Roman). The letter also contained at least one spelling error and one punctuation error! Finally, the letter requested a gift of “$100, $50, or $25.” Given my previous level of giving, such a request can only be described as stupid. It’s been sometime since I’ve seen a single letter commit so many sins.

As a donor, I think I have a right to be offended by the Foundation’s behavior over the years. Most recently, they have disregarded my request not to be included in the phone program. However, because of my extreme, personal interest in the work the Foundation funds, I have been willing to set aside my personal feelings regarding their stumbles over the years. However, I’ve now reached the point where I wonder, how many other significant donors are they alienating? I can only conclude that the Foundation is not raising as much money as it could. And, I know, as a result, I am more likely to go blind than I would be if they were raising the resources they should be able to raise. I’m angry.

Going forward, I will likely no longer support the Foundation Fighting Blindness. Instead, I will do my own leg work to find research projects dealing with Retinitis Pigmentosa that are worthy of my direct support. Giving to the Foundation Fighting Blindness is not the only way to support RP research projects.

If you want to avoid alienating your donors, whether in a phone program or other development effort, here are ten simple things you can do:

1. Listen. If a donor offers to share a particular expertise, acknowledge the kind offer, thank him, and either take advantage of his expertise or explain why you are not. It is essential to listen to people and really respond to them. True engagement is what it’s all about. When opportunities for engagement are dropped in your lap, try to take advantage of them.

2. Honor the Donor’s Wishes. There are obvious limits to how far an organization can go to honor a donor’s wishes. However, if she wants her spouse included, or not, in recognition mailings, respect her wish.

3. Report. When asking someone for money, particularly a past supporter, first acknowledge past support and let him know how gifts were put to use. Then, as specifically as you can, tell the prospective donor how her gift will be used this year. Talk in terms of mission fulfillment and benefits to those the organization serves.

4. Provide Relevant Information. Always strive to provide relevant information. In the Foundation’s case, they know I suffer from RP. So, why not specifically discuss RP research with me instead of research in general? Why speak only vaguely of breakthroughs with no specifics?

5. Keep it Personal. Let donors know they are important by keeping it personal. This means, unless test data suggests otherwise for your organization, use a closed-face envelope, use a live postage stamp, use the correct person’s name, and use a stand-alone letter (maybe even a handwritten one) rather than one with a detachable response card.

6. Be Clean. Letters to donors and prospects should be readable. So, use an appropriate font size for your audience and use an easily readable font. Also, make sure letters do not contain punctuation and spelling errors. Neatness and accuracy count. They reflect on how well run your organization is or is not.

7. Ask for the Right Amount. Make sure that when you ask for a gift, you ask for the right gift. For example, asking a $1,000+ donor to consider a gift of $25 seldom makes sense.

8. Don’t Call. Including a prospect in a telephone fundraising campaign should be a last resort. The most effective form of solicitation will always be face-to-face. While face-to-face is not always practical, organizations should try to see as many prospects and donors as they can. Volunteer leaders and staff should reach out to donors by telephone if a face-to-face visit cannot be done. Only when volunteer and staff resources are fully committed should the remaining prospects and donors be assigned to the phone campaign. While phone campaigns can successfully solicit major and even planned gifts, they should only be used for this purpose as a last resort. When including upper-level donors in a phone program, extra care must be given. And, organizations are ethically and legally required to maintain a Do Not Call List, always respecting a prospect’s or donor’s wish to be placed on that list.

9. Don’t Argue. No one ever won an argument with a donor. If a donor disagrees with you, you can share accurate information with her that might change her view. But, don’t be defensive and don’t argue. Remember, the donor is always right, and a donor can always walk away with her money.

10. Follow-up. If you have a less than pleasant encounter with a donor or prospect, be gracious and follow-up. A personal, handwritten follow-up note thanking the person for caring can go a long way toward mending a relationship.

None of us is perfect. In my long career, I’ve even been guilty of making some of the mistakes that the Foundation has made. While it’s always best to avoid making mistakes, especially foolish ones, what separates the smart organizations from the weak is how the organization responds or corrects itself once it stumbles.

I’m going to invite the Foundation Fighting Blindness to read this post. Hmmm. I guess I’ve made a contribution to them after all.

So, is your organization setting a glowing example of what to do, or is it serving as a horrible warning?

That’s what Michael Rosen Says… What do you say?

Update (July 19, 2011):

While the Foundation Fighting Blindness has not contacted me about this blog post, despite being aware of it, I have now received a “reminder” notice since I told the caller I would “consider” a pledge. Interestingly, the letter was once again misaddressed to wife instead of me. And, once again, the letter asks for an inappropriately low amount. By the way, at about the same time I received the reminder in the mail, I also received a direct-mail appeal from the Foundation addressed to me (because they continue to refuse to merge my records). Apparently, this organization and its vendor are incapable of learning from some of their mistakes.

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42 Responses to “10 Tips to Save You from Becoming a Horrible Warning”

  1. And unfortunately, your story is all too common – organizations hire firms that are really just out for a quick buck, and don’t care much about the cause. People get lazy, and… don’t care about the cause. (They shouldn’t be working there if/when that’s the case). It’s very frustrating to us all, because it has a way of giving us all a black eye.

    Years ago, my husband was pretty badly burned in an accident, and needed a lot of attention at home. (Changing bandages, etc). Special Olympics started phoning us, despite having been told we didn’t make commitments on the phone. I asked to be removed from the list, and was finally told they’d do it. Guess who called again the next day? And over and over again in the next weeks? I know they do good work, but I haven’t felt much like donating there ever since. I completely understand the difficulties involved in keeping lists updated and cleaned – but that’s for them to work out, not for me (and my husband) to suffer from!

    On the other hand, I do think telefunding can be done well. The theater I worked at years ago developed (it took time) a good team – staff members, not an outside firm – who stayed for years and became known to donors. Donors developed their favorite callers and looked forward to the call and getting updated on what was happening at the theater. It was a positive exchange for all, even when a pledge wasn’t made. It furthered donor relations, instead of… well, instead of your experience here! It can be done right; but it takes a lot of attention and commitment.

    • Mary, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I hope your husband has made a full recovery from his injury. Over the years, I’ve seen good in-house phone fundraising programs, and I’ve seen terrible ones. And, I’ve seen superb phone fundraising programs implemented by professional firms, and I’ve seen bad ones. In recent years, the Foundation Fighting Blindness has contracted with at least three different telephone fundraising vendors. That probably says something about the quality of the firms they’ve been selecting and, probably, even says something about the quality of management at the Foundation. For outsouring to work, the right firm must be selected and management by the nonprofit organization needs to be vigorous. Unfortunately, some organizations, and I’m not saying this is the case at the Foundation, simply ignore a phone fundraising program once they’ve dumped it into the hands of a vendor. You can’t do that and expect a superior result. The telephone is an intensely personal communications medium; it needs to be treated as such.

  2. Michael, you are remarkably patient with these people and this organization. That aside, however, they are, to borrow from Stephen Covey, “caught up in the thick of thin things.” They seem so focused on something else that they are denigrating their lifeline. How foolish is that? Unfortunately, they are like many when it comes to fundraising – somehow they are getting by doing stupid things. Imagine how well they might do by doing smart things!

    • Roger, it’s always good hearing from you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. My wife will be amused to learn that I’ve been accused of being “patient.” 🙂 By the way, while I haven’t heard anything yet from the FFB, I have heard from one of their competitors. It proves my point that donors have choices.

  3. Thanks for posting this, Michael. We work very hard to be donor-centric at our organization, and your post tells us that we’re on the right track. Keep up the good work! I look forward to reading your future posts.

  4. Michael, this post is so horrific I’m almost beyond words (an all time first for me). It’s horrifying that someone with your personal commitment to their mission (and especially with your understanding of donor-centered fundraising) is being treated so poorly. I agree with Roger that your patience is remarkable. I’m glad your going to fund another organization supporting research to cure RP because if they treat all their donors like they treated you, they’ll run out of meaningful money. In tough times like these, as you know, people are more likely to drop their giving to certain organizations so they can more easily afford their gifts to the ones they love.

    As long as you’re sure there are other ways to fund the research to fight and cure RP, I hope you won’t mind if I tweet this post.

    • Lorri, after reading your comment, I realized that I should have saved this post for Halloween. 🙂 It is a pretty scary story. It wouldn’t be so bad if I could be assured that I was the only victim. But, I have no reason to believe that to be the case. And, that’s what makes this so sad. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Please feel free to Tweet about this post, print it out and distribute it, quote it, etc. (with attribution). The more we can spread the message that being donor-centered is important, the better. Thanks for sharing the vision and for helping to spread the word.

      By the way, as you probably know, I’m such a believer in donor-centered fundraising, that I built my book around the concept: Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing. Another book that shares a passion for donor-centered fundraising, and that has helped inspire me, is the aptly titled Donor-Centered Fundraising by Penelope Burk.

      Finally, I just want to let you know that I have yet to begin my serious research into RP research projects that I might support. Yet, I’ve already heard from one foundation and one researcher! Interestingly, while it’s early yet, I still have heard anything from the FFB in reaction to my post.

  5. A few years ago, I began receiving calls from the American Kidney Fund to donate household goods for pickup. At the time I was Director of Programs & Development for the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas, so I was familiar with the American Kidney Fund. I asked what would the funds generated from my donation accomplish and I was told that the American Kidney Fund helped fund a week long overnight camp in my area for children with kidney disease. My reply “How interesting. I oversee operations and fundraising for that camp and I have no record of your organization EVER making a donation to Camp XYZ.” click went the phone. I would continue to get phone calls every month , despite telling them every time I worked for the National Kidney Foundation and to please remove me from the call list. I put numerous calls into the American Kidney Fund headquarters asking to be removed from the call list. I left messages with development staff AND the president of the organization. I never received a call or an email back. I know the American Kidney Fund would hire people to call from their homes (we have caller ID) so I cannot fault the telemarketers for not passing my requests on to the “home office”, but I do fault their supervisors and the headquarters for not honoring my request. The only way the calls stopped coming in was when we changed our home phone number.

    • Leslie, thank you for your comment. I’m sorry to hear that you and your husband had your own bad experience. Years ago, I represented the Association of Fundraising Professionals in testimony before the Federal Trade Commission which was considering Do Not Call regulations at the time. We ended up with a set of regulations that the nonprofit sector could live with while protecting the public’s interest. While nonprofits are exempt from the bulk of the Do Not Call provisions, they are required to maintain their own in-house call suppression list and honor an individual’s request to be placed on the list. There are four reasons why nonprofit organizations should comply with requests to be placed on a charity’s Do Not Call list: 1) It’s the law. 2) It’s the ethical thing to do. 3) It’s the donor-centered thing to do. 4) Maintaining a current Do Not Call list ensures that calling campaigns will not waste valuable resources calling folks not interested in giving through that medium. While innocent errors will occur from time to time, organizations need to make a good faith effort to honor the wishes of folks not to be called. Finally, I just want to take a moment to restate that there are many nonprofit organizations and several telephone fundraising service providers who use the phone medium properly and produce terrific results. All organizations and vendors engaging in phone fundraising should aspire to the excellent standards that have been set.

  6. Your post regarding the FFB is very well written and unfortunately very accurate for many smaller and midsized VHA’s. One step I took with every phone program client I worked with or nonprofit I was employed by was to add myself to the data base so I would receive all pre-call mail and the call. It was a great way to ensure consistent quality and when errors did occur to correct them quickly. Perhaps the CEO and CDO at FFB should consider doing the same.

    • Michael, thank you for taking the time to share a terrific quality-control idea. Even when working with one of the best phone fundraising service providers, nonprofit organizations must still take responsibility for quality control. Adding the names of a number of staff members to the call list is just one step nonprofits should take.

  7. To be the Devil’s advocate, it sounds like you want to spend a lot more money on the campaign itself, and that could end up taking money away from research. You would need specific stats about their past campaigns and computer models to analyze which method would likely raise more money – throwing a ton into the campaign or keeping the campaign light and simple.

    I have been a caller for a non-profit before, and I can tell you that it can be a difficult job that is fairly low-paying. The organization I worked for was much worse than this one – when the recession hit in 2008 they changed their policy so that we weren’t allowed to “give up” if a prospect told us that they were having “adverse personal circumstances.” We were told that we had to simply keep reminding them that it was tax deductable! I couldn’t do it, and once a call like that (a mother who had a child with leukemia) was monitored, I was fired.

    My point is that I understand both sides, yours, where you’re in a position to want to be extremely accommodated by the fundraiser, and theirs, which is that statistically, if you have a wide pool of donors, doing annoying things like calling again could actually net you more.

    • Chiiill, thank you for sharing your thoughts and reminding us that there is indeed another side. Like you, I have also been a phone fundraising caller. I’ve also owned a direct-response firm that helped pioneer the coordinated direct-mail/telephone approach. And, I’ve served nonprofit organizations that have conducted in-house phone campaigns and that have out-sourced such efforts. I understand the different perspectives. However, as the father of Total Quality Management, W. Edwards Deming has taught, managing to quality is not necessarily more expensive. In my list of 10 tips, only two of them might result in a direct cost increase, though they could result in a greater net:

      Tip 5–Keep it Personal. Using a window envelope and two-part letter/pledge card probably saves on cost. However, the FFB should test this approach versus a more personal closed-face envelope approach to see which yields a stronger fulfillment rate. It could be that the lower-cost approach is also equally effective. But, without doing a test, there’s no way to know.

      Tip 10–Follow-up. Yes, sending a personal follow-up note after an encounter with a donor takes a bit of time and, therefore, costs a bit of money. But, it’s really just a small investment in relationship building.

      The remaining eight points I provided either cost essentially nothing or would even save money. For example, Tip 8–Don’t Call would save a great deal of money by not wasting resources on folks who have requested not to be called and who, therefore, are very unlikely to respond positively if called. Besides, it’s the law and complying will avoid costly fines.

      Being annoying is not the way to raise more money. Being thoughtful is. For example, as I suggest in Tip 3–Report, organizations should thank previous donors, tell them what past giving has accomplished, and then tell them what renewed support will do. For a hospital client, we used this approach versus a traditional approach that focused only on what we wanted the money for this year. The test approach resulted in a 68 percent increase in support compared to the traditional approach. It doesn’t cost more to share relevant information with prospects and, yet, it can generate significantly more dollars. By the way, beating the tax-deductible drum is stupid and pointless. First, folks know their gift is tax-deductible. Second, they can get a tax deduction giving to any charity. The issue is, why should they give to yours?

      Finally, you should feel very proud that you were fired from your phone fundraising calling position. You, not your employer, actually did the right thing. Never giving up in a phone call is essentially a verbal mugging. Callers must be assertive and persistent. However, callers need to know when to take “no” for an answer. We should never be muggers. In the development profession, we should be relationship builders. By building strong relationships, we will acquire more donors at higher-levels who are more willing to sustain their giving.

  8. Michael,

    I am going to join in with a “here’s another example”. I have been a generous donor to Catholic Charities in the Buffalo Diocese, and have witnessed the wonderful work they do. Their giving campaign is always held during Lent and last March when I received the appeal letter, I decided to up my contribution a little and instead of writing one check, decided to pledge instead. So, I filled out the pledge card with a request to be billed in June and, I believe, October.

    About a month after submitting the pledge card, I received a follow up letter asking me to contribute. Shortly after that I received a second follow up letter, so I called their office. I spoke with a person there and explained that I had already pledged and couldn’t understand why I was receiving the follow up letters. She was apologetic, couldn’t seem to find my records but assured me she would take care of it. Perhaps another month later, I received another request asking for me to consider donating. I again called – got a voice mail – and left a message explaining the situation. No one ever called me back. It is now July and I never received a pledge reminder in June, so clearly they have no record of my pledge.

    At this point I am conflicted – wanting to support a good cause – but hesitant to reward ineptness!

    • Patricia, thank you for sharing this story. My concern, as I read your message, was that it is very likely that yours is NOT the only pledge the organization has lost. Given your passion for the work of Catholic Charities, you might want to give them another chance by calling or writing. I hope that they will take good care of you. And, I hope that they review their internal systems to make sure they don’t “lose” anymore pledges. However, if they continue to fail, then I hope you will take your support to another organization that does work you are passionate about and that takes better care of its donors.

  9. This was painful to read. Hard to imagine how frustrating it has been.

    • Scroobious Pip, thanks for reading my post and taking the time to comment. While the experience has been frustrating, I wanted to do more than vent in my post. I’m hoping other nonprofit organizations can learn something from this. That’s why I felt compelled to share my story.

  10. The logistics of tracking the kind of information that the author believes the minimum wage/volunteer should have on hand seems to me to be prohibitively expensive/time consuming to maintain. The organization certainly didn’t set out to offend the author. Maybe lighten up a tad? 🙂 Good luck with the macular degeneration, though. That sounds very scary.

    • Matt, thank you for commenting. I always enjoy hearing from readers even if they don’t agree with me. This gives me the opportunity to clarify a few things. First, in the FFB’s case, the caller was definitely not a volunteer and was almost definitely not a minimum wage employee. Professional telephone fundraising personnel are usually paid quite well, at least by the more reputable firms. Second, I really don’t fault the caller with too many of the ills I cited. It is management’s responsibility to have appropriate systems in place, provide the callers with the information they will need, and make sure the callers are well trained. While this all takes some effort, it is most certainly not prohibitively expensive. And, when you factor in the damage that can be done (i.e.: alienating a significant donor), it can be far less expensive to do things the right way. Third, I know that the FFB did not set out to offend me. That’s why, if I were convinced my experience was isolated, I would still donate to them. However, my concern is that the FFB is alienating many others and, therefore, not raising the money they could. That’s why I’m going to give elsewhere and why I wrote the post. I want FFB and other organizations to learn from what I have experienced. Life can be a lot easier if you learn from the mistakes of others. Fourth, while I greatly appreciate your good wishes, I just want to point out that I have Retinitis Pigmentosa not Macular Degeneration. Both diseases can lead to blindness but have very different causes and symptoms. For example, RP results in the errosion of peripheral vision while MD results in the loss of center vision. RP can occur at any age. MD is often age-related. Both are scary. FFB funds promising research for both.

  11. Hi Michael,

    Thanks for this interesting post and the discussion that followed.
    I am working for the Italian base of Sightsavers International which is an organization combating blindness in the poorest countries in the world.
    I am re-testing the telemarketing approach in these very days and I found particulary useful the tips and replies you made.

    In fact sometimes it is hard to reconcile all the aspects in a fundraising campaign – especially when you have budget restrictions – but I agree with you that not to take into account what a donor is asking you is a gigantic mistake.

    Italy is not one of the most mature markets from the point of view of the tools you might use for being in touch with your donors, they made donations through postal giro mainly and donors are not so willing even to receive a phone call, but I am determined in trying to start to build a different kind of relationship with my donors more specific and close with them if possibile.

    One of the things I saw in my experience is that very often the organizations are not investing in the most important tool for fundraising: a good database, tailored for our job and not for another one, able to save all the info you have about the donor, donations history, request of receivng or not something from you and also the way they prefere to be contacted. This is one of the reason why, after receiving a call as you made to the Foundation they are not able to get the right actions for maintaining the good relathionship with the donors.

    We have troubles here in Italy in getting key supporters, so I cannot believe that the Foundation lost you as donor in such a silly way!

    Thanks for that,
    Michela

    • Michela, thank you for sharing your thoughts and for the work you are doing. I agree with you that it is essential for a nonprofit organization to use appropriate database software. But, this really involves two issues: 1) buying the best, most appropriate software, and 2) properly using the software. In the Foundation’s case, I’m reasonably certain they have acceptable software; the problem for the Foundation is execution. As for your own program, I think you will experience success with a phone fundraising program IF it is done properly. A poorly executed direct mail campaign or a poorly implemented phone program will both yield terrible results. However, a carefully crafted, donor-centered direct mail or phone appeal will yield strong results with few, if any, complaints. Be sure to get a copy of the book Effective Telephone Fundraising by Stephen F. Schatz, CFRE; the book is full of great tips that will work anywhere.

  12. Great post – much to learn from. I also strongly recommend Hug Your Customers by Jack Mitchell to all my fundraising comrades!

  13. Michael, it must be truly frustrating to feel an affinity with an organization that does not seem to care one hoot…While reading your post, I couldn’t help but think that the lapses were systemic, not isolated. Not only are the solicitors (I can’t in good faith call them fundraisers or development professionals) to blame, but the data management team seems out to lunch as well. As a database administrator, I am abhorred at the lack of action to any of your stated (in some cases, repeatedly stated) preferences. I agree that the Foundation’s software is not the likely culprit, but rather that it is being utilized as an address book, rather than the powerful tool it can be. And, that unfortunately, is the fault of all involved. How sad.

    • Alan, thank you for sharing your thoughts and giving us the benefit of your perspective. You wrote that the Foundation “does not seem to care one hoot.” That might be true for some staff members, but I’m willing to give the organization as a whole the benefit of the doubt. From my contacts with staff over the years, I know that some of them do care a great deal. Unfortunately, as you also pointed out, I also suspect that the problems are systemic rather than isolated. That’s the reason I’m so upset and frustrated. I understand, through a friend, that senior management is looking into the issues I’ve raised. I sincerely hope they resolve the problems they have.

  14. Thanks for sharing your story. I got here from the “Mixed Links” on another nonprofit blog.

    I work in development for a nonprofit and am very glad I got to read your “what not to do” tale.

    It reinforces that taking the time to reach out personally to donors and not just treating them as a faceless piggy bank is the right way to go. 🙂

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