Some fundraisers live in mortal fear of getting complaints from their donors. This isn't unique to the nonprofit world. The Freaking Marketing Blog paints a vivid picture of the baleful power complainers can wield in File This Under "You Can't Please Everyone". A marketing effort is underway. Results are pouring in. Then ...
... out of the blue, the dark clouds suddenly roll in. The boss does a 180-degree turn and is now absolutely bummed. A festival of finger-pointing begins. Why?
Someone saw the ad and wrote a letter of complaint.
I've seen campaigns that had motivated many thousands of people to write checks in support of a good cause scrapped because a handful of people complained. Here's one area where talk is not cheap! A handful of talkers have more pull than a whole army of people writing checks!
It seems the good opinion of a few cranky strangers is more important that accomplishing the mission. That's a lack of leadership. A confident, well-lead organization knows what it's doing is right -- because they examine their marketing and other efforts all the time. That should give them the ammo they need to answer the complainers. And keep doing what's right.
Another reason you shouldn't worry too much about complaints: They frequently signal that you're doing something right. Again and again, I've seen a real correlation between complaints about a direct-marketing impact and its success.
Why? If your stuff is boring, you won't get complaints. You won't get much response either. But if your stuff grabs people by the collar and forces them to pay attention, you'll get response. And you'll make some of them uncomfortable -- and some will complain.
Practicing Donor Power does not mean you never get complaints. It means you talk to your donors with passion, honesty, and power. And you know how to answer those who complain.