Donors want to give, members want to renew memberships, but sometimes they cannot. It can be a real problem for an organization, which may have spent a lot of money and energy in development, but then, somehow it doesn’t receive the funds. What could be the problem? It’s on the details… which some may consider to be a no-brainer, but still, they deserve a second look because they are so common problems.Below are a couple of details to pay attention to:
Detail 1– Links should work
Recently, I received an invoice as an attachment to a nice email. All was well done and professional until I clicked on the link for online payment. Then, I was taken to an error page on the nonprofit website. Now it’s up to me to figure out how to pay the organization. Do I look around the website for a link? Write a check? Maybe leave this alone for now…and the organization may never see any donation or membership payment. Some prospective donors may never contact the nonprofit with this issue, and the bad link detail will go on undetected.
*** Pointer — Check regularly on the invoice or email master text to make sure it’s still valid. Usually, changing only one invoice or email doesn’t work well, since most systems use a master file that populates all the communications with donors.
Detail 2 – Take information over the phone easily
Have everybody in the organization trained in handling payments over the phone. Not just accounting folks. All the information and forms should be easily accessible and ready to be used, including online forms. When donors or others call to make a payment, get it done, which may be easier said than done. I have seen people transfer donors from one person to another– don’t do that. Don’t frustrate the person on the other end of the line. Everyone should know how to handle the calls, help and get any payment.
***Pointer — The nonprofit could have a phone setup for people who want to pay so that they can do it so easily. The message could be, “If you want to make a donation or a payment, please press 1 and someone will get the information right away.”
Detail 3 — Process donations quickly
Money should be in the bank, not sitting in someone’s drawer or safety box. The longer a nonprofit waits to process a donation, the more likely it is for it to have issues with bounced checks or charge backs. Online donations take care of most of these issues, but part of processing donations should also include who, how and when you want to thank donors. Maybe a donation over a certain amount would receive a different type of acknowledgment than those that give only $10.
***Pointer — Develop policies and procedures regarding donation processing with specific people in charge of sending thank you notes, using autopen and when to actually obtain a real signature.
Nonprofits are competing with other organizations for every cent they get. Sometimes the day-to-day activities cloud the importance of making donations easy and stress-free. Sorry, but if I’m put on hold for a bit too long or get attitude or cluelessness, I hang up and give my money to someone else. So it’s important to make donating an easy, pleasant experience, not one where donors get error messages on the computer or an aggravating phone person. Details matter.
Check out the book “Nonprofit Finance: A Practical Guide” –– Nominated for the 2016 McAdam Book Award