EE_SalesChartRecently, I was doing a live stream on Facebook. I’m big on customer service. All my team members understand that if you work in one of my businesses or social enterprises, you have to be customer driven. This has been one of the ingredients to my success. But, many nonprofits are not understanding that the same has to be applied to their donors. I don’t get it. Why would you make it difficult for a donor to donate?

Let me go back to the live stream and tell you what happened.

Facebook Live Stream

When I did this live stream, I wanted to make a point. I wanted to show my followers that companies and nonprofits were missing the boat.


They simply do not pick up the phone.

I telephoned live two companies. No one picked up the phone. Of course, in the days of technology, I believe the thinking is, why bother to answer the telephone when you can have an automated service do it? That’s such a big mistake. I’m a huge fan of technology, but I’m an even bigger fan of the personal touch. Do you know how much more business we do than our competitors simply because we pick up the phone?

I was bounced around on those two company calls. And I hung up. I’m bombarded with things to do every day. I’m not going to waste my time doing business with your company because you think that you’re so busy and important that I have to wait on hold or have to figure out how to speak to a live person.

$100 Gift to Charity That Went Nowhere

My last call was to a local charity. I was going to give $100 to charity live on Facebook. I expected in the case of a nonprofit to have someone pick up the telephone. I was wrong. I called and went immediately into an automated service.

And do you want to know what happened when I hit “0”?

The service hung up on me.

That was a waste of my time and proof that even charities don’t understand they have to be available to donors at any given time. That nonprofit had the opportunity to receive $100 from me on the spot, which is probably more than their average gift, but no one picked up the phone and, worse, I was disconnected.

Successful Nonprofits Will Pick Up the Phone

I’m going to give you the simplest thing you can do for donor success: pick up the telephone. Be unlike the other charities in your neighborhood. Pick up the phone. More than likely, the folks at the other nonprofits prefer that when a donor calls them that they get bounced around the automated service to find the “right” person. Don’t waste a donor’s time doing that.

Train your team–your entire team–to pick up the telephone. Get a live person to pick up by the second ring and route the call if necessary. If you can’t afford a receptionist, rotate the calls. A live person on the other side of the telephone line seems to be a luxury these days. Making sure every call is responded to by a live person and not an automated service sends a positive and impactful signal to the caller.

Here’s the deal. If you work at a nonprofit, you never have any idea when the next major donor will call your office. I’ve heard it time and again. Out of the blue, someone calls a charity and makes a substantial donation just because. These things happen. Do you want to miss that opportunity? I wouldn’t.

So, train your team to do the simplest thing you can do for your donors. Pick up the telephone and demonstrate to your supporters that you care about them. Do what your competitors are not doing. That’s what’s going to make you special.


Author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: Grip & Rip Leadership for Social Impact” (Free Digital Download)


 © 2016 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.