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Monday, July 25, 2011

Are You Ready for Scrutiny?

Several recent articles in the Chronicle of Philanthropy describe potential new regulations to direct what charities must disclose -- from costs to raise funds to options for donors to makes gifts restricted to specific projects.  Still, few organizations seem to be taking the initiative to be more transparent BEFORE they are forced to by state and federal lawmakers.

What are people waiting for?  An organization in the private sector would jump at the chance to be ahead of the curve and use a market trend to help differentiate itself from the competition.  Why are we so unimaginative?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Customer Service: Two examples . . . for-profit and not-For-profit

Two examples of customer relations in the last two days.  Each was very impressive.

Apple, Inc.  I was purchasing a laptop computer on line and had difficulty with the process and called the -800 Apple help line.  An incredibly friendly, competent, smart young man walked me through the purchase, accessing records of mine and talking through options.  He made my on-line confusion seem like the most regular thing . . . no sense of operator error or the need for me to apologize. And he followed up the purchase with not just a form receipt from Apple, but a personal email from him at his personal Apple address.  I responded to thank him and he responded.  Wow.  I am incredibly impressed.

I can hear a not-for-profit response; actually, an excuse: "But Apple has a lot of money to do things well.". . . Right! And that's why Apple has a lot of money . . . they do things well.

My not-for-profit story is about LIFT, an organization founded by a young Yale graduate, which "combats poverty and expands opportunity."  I made an on-line gift in honor of a friend and at the suggestion of one of their major donors. I didn't get either an on-line or paper acknowledgment or receipt. But I did receive a fiscal year-end solicitation. So I wrote to them, copied the CEO, and said I thought they were missing the boat in basic solicitation and stewardship. I received an immediate response from the communication team, a follow up from the LIFT development office, and a personal email from the CEO. All within a couple of hours, all sincere, well-written, and focused on discovering the source of the problem and solving it.

I left the experience impressed and more than willing to give again.  

In each of these examples, personal attention was the key to what was a great experience with Apple and what turned out, in the end, to be a positive experience with LIFT. Both increased my willingness -- even enthusiasm -- to purchase/give again.