Here are some scary stories from our experiences as donors, nonprofit fundraisers and consultants:
The Feasibility Study Interview that Went Wrong. It was a chilly, fall day, and the very first feasibility study interview of my career. I was excited to do research for my new client and couldn’t wait to get started. Knowing to never judge a donor by how he or she lives, I didn’t hesitate to approach the run-down looking home in an otherwise okay-looking neighborhood. Upon answering the door, the unshaven middle-aged man advised me not to enter his home due to an illness permeating it. Instead, we’d conduct the interview in his car, an old beater sitting on his lawn. Defensive instincts began to kick in, but I conceded given the car looked in too bad of shape to run and my panic button on my key chain was within grasp. I was a bit nervous during the entire interview. It didn’t help that I was also shivering as the car was off so we had no heat. Luckily, all went well, but it was definitely a strange kickoff to my first feasibility study.
Their First and (Likely) Last Gift. A nonprofit organization I worked for did not have a firm procedure for who within the organization could solicit donations and where those donations should be directed. As a result, after a staff member was let go and the individual’s office was being cleaned, a number of uncashed donation checks were found in the clutter. Some of the checks were dated up to a year earlier!
She Wouldn’t Take No For An Answer. Having agreed by phone to send a donor acquisition mailing to all of my neighbors the year before, a representative for a nonprofit called the following year to request I do the same thing. I explained my commitments had changed, and I did not have time this year to help with the neighbor acquisition mailing. However, I did offer to increase my support. For the next five minutes the woman stated the importance and need for my participation as opposed to thanking me for increasing my support. Finally, the woman took my pledge. A week later I was sent a pledge card and the donor acquisition kit I had declined three times over the phone. A few weeks after that, I started receiving follow-up phone calls and a mailing urging me to complete my kit and send in the gifts I had received from my neighbors. In my annoyance, I don’t even remember the thank you letter and receipt I must have received.
The Donor Who Wasn’t. After making a donation for the second time to a specific nonprofit, and receiving receipts for both gifts, I was sent an appeal letter a few months later requesting funds for the same purpose and making no mention of my previous giving. The direct mail package contained mailing labels with a note that read, “These mailing labels are our way of saying thank you, in advance, for your support.”
AMPERAGE Fundraising Advisers is a full-service fundraising company whose mission is to move the needle for our clients. For more information on Amperage Fundraising Advisers or to make a recommendation for a future blog post, contact us today!