Customer Service for Nonprofit Organizations: A Definitive Guide

Fund raisers processing donations

For every nonprofit, donors are the heart and soul of any fundraiser and any initiative.

The reason is simple, donors form the crux of nonprofits. Without their generosity and kindness, organizations cannot function. Nonprofits need to be able to repay them and show them that they care. More importantly, nonprofits need to be at their service and clear their queries, whenever they arise. Whether it is simple doubts about accepting donations online or they want a walkthrough on online donations, nonprofits need to be there.

To do this, nonprofit organizations need to set up a customer service system. Irrespective of the size of the organization, nonprofits need to be versed in customer service.

Why does customer service matter?

The reason is simple, to clear queries and to be there when your donors and patrons need you. The hallmark of a good nonprofit is interactive and puts other’s needs ahead of theirs. To be well recognized in the community of altruists and patrons, your nonprofit needs to have a robust customer service setup.

Your nonprofit should be able to interact with people and situations without hesitation. While a pre-defined engagement strategy might not work all the time, the key is to keep the experience consistent. You want your customer service to be as positive as can be. You want to create a space where people can ask you questions and find that you will return with a positive answer.

Having a customer service system set up is key to nonprofits that are loved and cherished by communities. It shows that you value donor input, feedback, and will answer any queries they have. It also helps nonprofits open up a new channel of communication. So what are some things that nonprofits can do to foster a nurturing relationship between them and their donors? We’ll find out.

Some best practices you can adopt

Here are some best practices your organization can adopt to make its customer service experience top-notch. These best practices can be used as pillars for effective customer service as you adopt them, you will see improvements in response and feedback by leaps and bounds. Without further ado, let’s dive in.

Approachability

The first step towards ensuring that your donors are keen on your nonprofit is by being approachable. This means that you keep all channels of communications between you and the donors open. They should not feel frustrated at your delayed response or worse lack of it. The three doors through which they should be able to approach you are:

Emails

A best practice when it comes to emails is that a response should be reverted within 24 hours. The idea is that a donor should not feel as if his queries are being thrown into a furnace. Even if you do not have the solution or the answer, you should give them a response. As a part of the best practice, you can even add faces on the contacts page so that donors can associate a face with a name. While it may not be a necessary step, it still helps give your nonprofit a very human feeling.

Phone calls

Phone numbers should be listed on your contact page and this line should always be connected. A team member should be on the line during your working hours and clear any and every query they can. They should be professional in response, give a sincere greeting, use a kind tone and words, along with making donors feel welcome.

Social media 

In social media, engagement is the key. As a nonprofit, you want to be as active as possible. You can share, and like your donor’s responses on your page. This shows that you are tuned in and are willing to listen to them. You should always promptly answer any queries posed by donors.

While the first step is to be responsive, the more important aspect is the quality of the response. Nail both these aspects and the organization will be revered by everyone.

Patience

Donors are human beings and can get vexed as easily as anyone else. You will encounter a donor or two that will regrettably be fuming about something. This is inevitable and no matter how good your customer service is, you will face people with gripes. This is where your customer service really matters. In such instances, you have to be patient and not lash out. The idea is to let them speak, get their issues out, and then you approach the problem.

If you are willing to listen it can often have the effect of dissipating the anger. Donors like the attention and the added advantage of listening are that you will be able to identify the exact root of the problem. You also need to be aware of the fact that each time you speak to a donor and resolve their issue, you are also listening to a problem that someone else might be facing. When they do call, you will already have the solution.

Responsiveness

A key to retaining donors and making them feel as if their issues have been addressed is by being responsive to their feedback. Acknowledge their problem, reinstate their concern, and try to show them how you will address the issue. If you do not have the answer do not guess, instead, you should inform them that you are looking into it and will have an answer soon.

You can go a step further by sending back more information on their issues and even discussing them with the leadership and putting preventative measures in place. By having an active customer service response you are not only solving one donor’s issues but also mitigating the issues several others might face in the future. If you show donors that you are listening and actively working to solve their issues, they will leave feeling satisfied.

Concluding thoughts

The hallmarks of good customer service are quite simple. Nonprofits should focus on this to separate themselves from the crowd. By being attentive, listening, and following up with donors, nonprofits will see a sharp rise in donor satisfaction. If nonprofits stay committed to customer service, they will see a boost in donor happiness and loyalty.

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