Recently one of our subscribers came to us with an interesting recount about a couple of disappointing encounter with major charities. This particular person, like many of us, supports a number of charities, some of them being in the health, welfare and rehabilitation sector.

In both of these situations, a major charitable organisation was involved. This left our subscriber wondering if the organisations had robust processes and systems in place to manage their donations.

In the first case an application was made for a service from a major Charitable entity (that directly affected him) and he added a donation in addition to the service fee. He then promptly forgot about the donation, and the receipt which should have been forthcoming soon after. He was reminded of it when he received an appeal letter from the same organisation several months later. Attributing the earlier failure to send a receipt down to an administrative oversight he made another donation. Yet again, this failed to result in an acknowledgement and the production of a donor receipt. Admittedly the charity responded promptly to a telephone call and email message, rectifying the situation, but the donor was left with reservations about the credibility of the organisation in its fundraising administration.

In the second case, our subscriber attempted to make an on-line donation using a credit card to effect payment. Having completed all the detail fields he inserted an amount of $100 which the system automatically upgraded to $1,000 with an option of choices to $7,000 that could not be remedied! Several failed attempts later he contacted this leading charity by email to express his frustration. The email was acknowledged with a message to the effect that the recipient had tested the system with a $1 donation option that had not presented a problem. Despite assurances that the reported problem would be referred for further attention, no follow-up advice has been received.

Lesson to be learned

In both instances our donor has said he is unlikely to give further consideration to supporting the two charities concerned and will be putting his money in support of other deserving causes. Fundraising on a large scale is usually supported by substantial marketing communications. When donors experience problems such as those raised in this article, they usually vote with their feet, depriving the charity of expected income, leading to loss of future income from this source.

On a more positive note, the same donor recently donated to an Australian Hospice Charity, Silver Chain Nursing Services of Western Australia. The online remittance was acknowledged within 15 minutes, quickly followed by an official receipt and a secure transaction report.

With greater competition from crowd funding and event based fundraising top tier charities can no longer rely on their public image if they are unable to maintain user friendly donor relations. We suggest that any charitable entity accepting donations from the public regularly test their processes and systems for any hiccups that are sometimes prone to occur and rectify as soon as possible.