3 Steps To Handling A Donor Complaint

Posted on 10/15/2017 - by Dan Allenby

Wouldn’t it be nice if 100% of your donors were happy 100% of the time? If that were so, your annual giving program would surely see lower donor attrition and significantly higher participation rates. Keep dreaming. The truth is that there are going to be times when your team will get a call or an email from one of your supporters with a complaint.

It might be because their name was spelled wrong on an appeal or because they weren’t invited to an important event. Perhaps the phonathon calls them too often or your office under-reported their gift amount on the annual donor report (oh no!).

Sometimes grievances will be legitimate. Somebody wasn’t paying close enough attention or simply made a mistake. Other times, it might be something that’s out of your control. Regardless of the circumstances, it’s generally best to handle it as if the customer (or, in your case, the donor) is always right.

In fundraising, knowing how to respond and what to do when a gripe comes your way is as important as knowing how to solicit a donation or write a gift acknowledgment. “AAA” is a good way to remember how best to react when a donor complains:

  1. Accept – take responsibility for the issue on behalf of the institution
  2. Apologize – simply say you’re sorry
  3. Act – tell them what you’re going to do to fix it

Following these three steps when dealing with a complaint will not only prevent the issue from escalating into a bigger problem, but it may even end up being a good donor cultivation move. Who knows? If handled properly, a complaint today could lead to an opportunity tomorrow.

Want to learn more? CLICK HERE for AGN’s Webinar on Maximizing Annual Fund Stewardship.