Freelance Fundraiser’s Jottings

26 February 2008

Goodbye Nokia!

When a donor gives to charity, they are doing so voluntarily. It is their choice to do so, no one can make them. (Convincing them to give is very different from forcing them!) So it is the fundraiser’s duty to make sure that the service the donor receives is second to none.


This doesn’t mean wasting cash whilst pampering donors with questionable small gifts, such as badges, or sending a series of letters and cards telling them how wonderful they are! They will soon see through this and wonder why you are spending their donation on them, rather than the people they intended it to be spent on through your charity’s services.


There are a few key points that should be stuck to at any cost:


  1. ALWAYS thank the donor, no matter how large or little the donation. The £2 from old Mrs Pickles might be worth more in real terms to her than the £200 from Colonel Farquhar-Splatt. Anyway, Mrs Pickles lives alone in the council house her late husband bought under that woman Prime Minister’s initiative, whereas Col Farquhar-Splatt has a large family of sons, daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren, as well as a wife who likes polo matches and being seen at society events. Who do think would really appreciate a letter or card of sincere thanks and who do you think might be more likely to leave you a significant gift in their Will?
  2. ALWAYS make sure you say “thank you” promptly. A couple of weeks later is too late. Make it your policy to always send your thanks within 5 working days. The sooner the better! Mrs Pickles and Colonel Farquhar-Splatt will both appreciate your promptness.
  3. ALWAYS be courteous and polite when dealing with the occasional time a donor gets upset. It’s better to acknowledge fault than to try and justify it, even if you know you are in the right! Be a calming influence, not an agitator when a complaint arrives, be it by post or telephone, etc.
  4. ALWAYS try and go the extra mile. Don’t just do the minimum of what the donor would expect, go beyond. They will notice and you might turn a potential enemy into a generous friend.


We would do well to learn from our commercial neighbours. Companies noted for excellent customer service are far more likely to get repeat custom from people. Those who don’t…beware! Let me give you an example of poor customer service, that has blighted a previously favoured company for me:


A couple of years ago I bought a wireless Bluetooth earpiece from Nokia. It wasn’t cheap. I’ve had several Nokia phones in the past and always found them to be reliable. The earpiece came with a removable rubber-coated wire that you mold round your ear to hold the device in place. After 18 months the wire inside the rubber broke, just from normal wear and tear. Several enquiries in shops failed to find a replacement part. I looked on the Nokia website. Nothing was there about replacement parts. I found their customer service pages and an email form to complete, which I duly did and sent it off.


A couple of weeks later, too long in my opinion, an email arrived back. It said that I needed to take it to certain branches of a national mobile phone retailer, whose larger branches acted as agents for repairs of Nokia equipment. My nearest one was 30 miles away. So I took an afternoon out and drove there, only to be told that they provided no service for these Bluetooth devices!


So I wrote to their CEO at the UK head office, explaining politely what had happened, that I liked Nokia’s equipment and asked if it would be possible to replace the part (estimated cost £1 – £2). I suggested that as their own customer services had led me on a 60 mile wild goose chase, taking an afternoon out from work, they might consider sending me the part for free.


A month later, I wrote again, after not receiving a reply. I was less complementary this time, saying that it was very poor customer service and I would be unlikely to use their products again if they couldn’t meet such a simple request.


A week later a letter arrived saying that these devices are sold as a unit and as it was outside the warranty period, they could not offer free repairs. Goodbye Nokia!


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