Day of Giving or Day of Pain?

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In the interest of full disclosure, I grew up in the world of Advancement Services. You know, the “back office.” The “support staff.” The “we’ll dump more admin stuff on them because they have the time since they aren’t out there raising money.”

Ya, that Advancement Services.

You should remember that if it weren’t for us you would not be able to mail/email prospects.  You wouldn’t have a clue how much money has been given and by whom. You couldn’t issue a legal tax receipt, and you certainly could not follow-up on 3,000 outstanding pledges. Read the 3rd edition of my Advancement Services book series: Enhancing Fundraising Success to learn more.

But I digress.

Here’s the operational issue I have with day of giving campaigns: institutions often forget the “little people.” Let’s pretend that your annual gift volume is 5,000 transactions – now what is your organization staffed at for processing?

Probably 1 person.

Just what the heck is the Advancement Services Office supposed to do when a quarter of those transactions come in ON ONE DAY?  Are you really willing to wait 2-3 months for those gifts to be entered onto donor records – and do you promise not to ask the Director of Gift Entry to keep a daily log of how many gifts have been processed and how many remain?

In order for these days of giving to not be a fad they must serve a purpose in cultivating new donors. These new donors deserve the same immediate recognition that old donors receive, without sacrificing the time it takes to recognize existing donors appropriately.

Immediate electronic tax receipts notwithstanding, they deserve another thank you letter – on paper – within a week of the gift.  And very likely another within 30 days depending on the dollar amount. Not 3 months later.

Therefore, we must consider these campaigns holistically, not just whether we can get more gifts than the other school down the street (oh, the fear I have seen in the eyes of staff at two local schools “competing” against each other).

We must sit down 6, 9, 12 months before launching the campaign, and all come to the table to think about the infrastructure issues and staffing demands doing these right – from a DONOR perspective – will require. That means building seamless interfaces between your online giving platform and your database of record before the first gift comes in.

The key is you need to import both the gift and biographic information directly from one system to the other rather than having to rekey anything.

Okay, nothing is foolproof and suspected duplicate records will need to be triaged.  But the point is, that interface MUST exist, so make sure the platform you are using offers this functionality.

Please stop killing off Advancement Services professionals! If you are considering a day of giving, make sure your systems integrate for seamless gift transactions.