The no-receipt scandal
Here's some really terrible news that I'd like to see a lot more of: A lot of nonprofits are not doing their jobs.
That's how I'm looking at an experiment at Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog: The Dismal Results of My Online Giving Experiment.
Kivi converted some credit card miles into $25 donations for charities through Network for Good and only got thank-you messages from 33% of them.
Shame. But not surprising.
We at Merkle occasionally do this experiment too. We get slightly better results (we give "real money," and do it through the mail), but our rate of acknowledgement usually doesn't go much above 50%.
There's no excuse for ignoring a donor's gift. It's impolite -- something along the lines of spitting on the donor's shoes. You may think the gift is small, or donated in a way that's less convenient to you, or at a bad time of year. But you have to assume it's a real good-faith gift, a heart-felt vote of confidence and support of your mission.
And ignoring gifts can catastrophically damage your fundraising results.
A $25 donor, if properly cultivated, is worth somewhere around $250 over the long haul. Not acknowledging that first gift is not how you properly cultivate a donor. Your chance of getting the rest of that $250 shrinks to Lilliputian size.
Now I have a hunch that most readers of this blog (and of Kivi's blog) are among the responsible organizations that correctly and promptly acknowledge their donors. So my little lecture is a bit misplaced. The apathetic, poorly run donor-spitting organizations that don't bother to receipt are not taking part in the conversation about treating donors right.
And that's why I hope to see more reports like Kivi's and that they will name names, publicly shaming this shameful behavior. I'd like it to be that nonprofits that chronically have this problem become generally known for having it.
Maybe that will help shame some otherwise decent organizations into getting their act together. Or (and I'm going to sound like a heartless capitalist here), maybe it'll help hasten the demise of organizations that need to get out of the way of those who can and will get it right.
I think it's only a matter of time before donors do routinely rat out those organizations. We should behave as if that time is already here.