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Gary Bukowski MA, CFRE

Gary Bukowski MA, CFRE

Donor Frustration: Beyond the Development Team

I have devoted my life to working with donors and always strive to make the act of giving be the best possible experience for donors and their families. Lately, however, I have been hearing more and more about employees being insensitive to their organization’s donors. There are many articles, books, white papers, and videos about the importance of good donor relations, but few are geared specifically to making the entire organization aware of donor sensitivity. 

An example of this kind of insensitivity occurs when donors get the run-around when reaching out to organizations they support and requesting information. I know of a daughter who wanted to check on the status of a family scholarship that her mother had created in memory of her father. When I spoke to the daughter, she indicated that she had called the AVP in the Development Office and left two messages that were never returned. Then she called the Donor Relations Office, but the person she reached there didn’t know anything about the scholarship. That person said the office would get back to her shortly with the information she sought, but a month went by with no response.  

The daughter called the organization’s CEO to try to get some answers, but the secretary told her that the CEO was out of town and suggested that she call the Development Office. When the daughter informed the CEO’s secretary that she’d been down that route already and had received no response, the secretary was curt and said her boss would be busy upon his return. This left the donor unsatisfied, with her questions still unresolved. 

This is donor relations at its worst. The daughter was frustrated and hurt, and all she wanted was to know the status of her family’s scholarship and who were its most recent recipients. The NPO’s inconsiderate behavior runs completely contrary to the compassionate, donor-centered standards that so many of us strive for daily in our profession.  

More communication between development offices and the rest of a nonprofit organization is needed to drive home for all employees how important donors are to the very existence of the NPO-and to the livelihood of everyone who works there. 

By the Numbers

Consider the recruitment opportunities for your organization that these stats indicate:

  • About 63 million Americans (25% of the adult population) volunteer their time, talents, and energy to making a difference.
  • These people spend an average of 52 hours/year volunteering.
  • 72% of volunteers are involved with only one organization, while 18.3% are involved with two.

Random interesting stats presented monthly from various sources.