Jan 20, 2009

Follow Through After Passing Out Donation Envelopes

I attended a nonprofit organization's party for donors recently at which they did one thing very right and one thing very wrong.

Let's start with the right: After dinner, when everyone was in a good mood and not yet looking at their watch to check whether it was time to apologize to the babysitter, the E.D. got up, reminded everyone of the organization's great work, and made a pitch for immediate donations. Better yet, she invited a major donor to the stage to talk about her own motivations for giving. The donor seemed truly thrilled to both be recognized and to have a chance to talk about a cause that she has made her own. Volunteers passed out envelopes for donations, accompanied by a little thank-you gift.

Now for the problematic part: At the end of the evening, no one knew where to put their donation envelopes. They stood up, looked around, looked confused, and ended up handing their envelope to any staff member they could find.

That's not only a disservice to donors, but could irritate them enough to say, "Forget it, I'll keep my envelope." It would be so simple -- and not at all pushy -- to just plant someone at each door with a big jar in hand! Next year, I hope...