What’s the first action when donors receive annual reports?

Office folders stacked in the form of steps. 2011-2019 year. The three-dimensional illustration

What is the first thing donors do when they receive your nonprofit organisations’ annual report? What is the first action donors take when they look over a donor wall or a recognition list in a program book?

They look for their own name!

What is the next thing they do?

See if their name is spelled correctly and printed the way they wish to be addressed.

Thereafter, what does the donor do?

The donor ensures his/her name appears in the correct giving category.

And, what is the final act of this donor?

He/she looks to see who gave more or an equivalent amount of money.

I received the Impact of Giving report from The Australian National University (ANU) this week. It’s a beautiful donor care or stewardship publication. I realised the first thing we do is flip to the donor listings and we are conditioned to look ourselves up in a similar fashion to the way people used to in church bulletins in years past. We are only human. We all do the above things and we have been conditioned to do these things by charities issuing annual reports, recognition lists, and donor walls.

Donor recognition lists can go so wrong. Nightmares for donor relations staff, include:

  • Forgotten names.
  • Wrong names.
  • Incorrectly spelled names.
  • Listing one spouse, but not the other.
  • Listing a spouse against the donor’s wishes.
  • Listing the wrong spouse.
  • Listing a deceased spouse.
  • Listing a spouse after a divorce occurs.
  • Listing a former spouse years after the divorce.
  • Using the incorrect format for someone’s name – Mr Stephen Mally rather than a preferred name, Mr Steve Mally.
  • Listing a gift, which was meant to be anonymous.
  • Listing an incorrect amount or excluding certain gift types, which results in the “incorrect amount” in the donor’s mind.
  • Placing a name in the in memory of listing when, in fact, the person is alive.

Did any of the above bring back any bad memories for you or send you into a rash? Establishing a proper donor recognition program within your customer relationship management (CRM) system is critical for ease in producing the donor recognition listing.

My name was in the ANU report, was correctly listed and…it was the first thing I checked in the report!