Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Donor Relations


In the wake of the 2017 presidential election, organizations such as the Sierra Club, Southern Poverty Law Center, ACLU, and Planned Parenthood received lots and lots of donations from concerned citizens. (In my opinion, concerned for very good reasons that this year has only borne out.) For example, the ACLU got $24 million in one weekend following the announcement of the original Muslim travel ban.

I was among those who scattered some money around immediately after the election, that is, in November, 2016. I somehow thought that I was making an annual donation, and come the 2017 end-of-year donor season I'd get renewal notices from those organizations.

Imagine my surprise when I started getting renewal notices early in 2017. It turns out that at least some of the orgs I donated to don't do 12-month memberships. They do calendar year memberships. So my money counted for November X, 2016 to December 31, 2016.

I've been informing these organizations that their next donations will come on January 1, 2018 and I've suggested two things to them:

1. When you've got a giant windfall, extend everybody's memberships through December 31, 2017. 
2. If you're not going to do that, at least make it perfectly clear on your web site what period of time donations apply to.


Drew said...

That is genuinely surprising, and disturbing. It's a deceptive donor practice and it makes me wonder why that process even exists other than to regulate their own cash flow. But from a technical perspective, an annual renewal product like a donation/membership is not difficult to set with a fixed calendar date or 365 days from onset. But I digress, I agree wholeheartedly that not making this clear to donors is a transparency problem they should fix ASAP.

Lisa Hirsch said...

It's deceptive, and don't these orgs often get a huge pile of cash around Nov-Dec as people realize it's time for their annual contributions? As you say, it's not hard hard to set their systems for 365 days rather than 1/1 - 12/31.