“We’ve gotten some push-back from the direct mail piece we sent. People are saying we ask for money all the time.”
“People complained that we sent too many emails on our giving day.”
“We’ve had people hang up on our phonathon callers.”
Whenever I hear these types of observations from advancement folk, I regularly ask a few more questions to better understand the extent of the complaints and how they are processing these concerns.
Here is what I typically learn:
- Objectively, the complaint is not accurate. We aren’t, for instance, “asking for money all the time.” There are many other communications being sent that are not invitations to give.
- Only a few donors or prospective donors are complaining and, usually, these individuals are not current donors or significant donors.
- These few complaints from people who have not given much (or given at all) are making the advancement leader question their process of inviting gifts.
We should always be open to feedback. In fact, we should seek it in various ways.
But, we need the confidence and competence to understand when the feedback is helpful and when it is not.
For instance, when a donor who gave $50 13 years ago, emails you that, “he is never giving again,” because he claims the three update emails you sent on your giving day were “spamming him,” a helpful and accurate emotional response should be, “I’m sorry he feels this way but three emails to our friends and donors during a very successful giving day is not spamming. And, he is way-overestimating the impact of his giving to us.”
It’s easy to allow the emotional intensity of a critical comment to supersede the accuracy and helpfulness of the critique itself. If someone is upset or angry, their emotion alone can cause us to want to accommodate them.
But, when we impulsively allow the feedback from a few to alter the planned strategies and approaches we are employing to do our work, we are allowing the wrong impetus to capture our concern.
Instead of focusing on how to appease a few disconnected or disconnected people who offer objectively inaccurate critiques, we should remind ourselves regularly that our role is to be far more concerned about the people and programs that genuinely need the charitable resources we are charged with gathering.
This article was originally posted on Jason’s Blog in November 2023. To read more, visit www.jasonmcneal.com.