Is the person who answers your phones your weakest, lowest paid employee?

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Greg Warner is CEO and Founder of MarketSmart, a revolutionary marketing software and services firm that helps nonprofits raise more for less. In 2012 Greg coined the phrase “Engagement Fundraising” to encapsulate his breakthrough fundraising formula for achieving extraordinary results. Using their own innovative strategies and technologies, MarketSmart helps fundraisers around the world zero in on the donors most ready to support their organizations and institutions with major and legacy gifts.

Everyone is a fundraiser.

Don’t believe me?

First, a short story.

My dad ran a very large insurance agency.  Over 100 people.  One of the largest in the U.S.  He used to tell me that he had a nasty receptionist.  But she had been on his staff for so long, he couldn’t bring himself to fire her.  Then one day he found out that one of his biggest clients was no longer going to use his agency for their insurance.  When he finally got them to tell him why, they said, “It’s your receptionist!  She’s been downright mean and nasty to us for years!”

The bridge was burned.
For this client, it didn’t matter how well the other 99 people at the agency did their jobs all year long.  The receptionist killed the deal and there was nothing my dad could do to save it.

The lesson.
Everyone at your organization must recognize that they are involved in fundraising.  Everyone is responsible for providing value to supporters because they are the source of the revenue that drives your mission and makes its way to employee paychecks.

Average is not good enough and not acceptable. 
If your organization is going to succeed in the new age, it must embrace a culture that recognizes that everyone supports raising money. Everyone is responsible for the organization’s success.

Everyone is a fundraiser.

Related Posts:

>>15 do’s and don’ts of fundraising telephone calls
>>5 reasons fundraisers won’t call their hot leads

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William Skaggs
William Skaggs
4 years ago

Greg, Thanks for posting this story as a reminder. Isn’t it amazing we still have to remind people to simply be nice and treat others with a modicum of respect? Sadly, we all have a version of this story, so hopefully we take a moment as an organization to learn from them.

Greg Warner
4 years ago
Reply to  William Skaggs

Thanks William!

Eleanor Brtva
4 years ago

I totally agree! At Melanoma Research Foundation, our 800 number rings to everyone…including me. I find it very fascinating to hear the stories and get people the resources they need. And I love when they are surprised that even the CEO answers the phone. Teamwork rules!

Greg Warner
4 years ago
Reply to  Eleanor Brtva

If you answer the phones Elly, I’m calling!!!
Hope all is well at the new gig. 🙂

Robin Padanyi
Robin Padanyi
4 years ago

This is so true! I’ve seen a donor who gave small gifts with regularity be treated with such professionalism and kindness by a receptionist that she grew to love the charity more and more. Eventually she gave a six figure gift!

Greg Warner
4 years ago
Reply to  Robin Padanyi

Now that’s Engagement Fundraising!
Thanks for joining the conversation Robin.

Paul Knudsen
4 years ago

So true. Happily I was able to recover from a donor’s (actually an advisor’s) negative initial experience with the person who answered their call, but when I think back on how that one surly call almost cost us a $10 million gift, I get a bit obsessive about the whole donor experience. It becomes really complex in the performing arts, with volunteer ushers, often poorly paid box office staff, etc.

Greg Warner
4 years ago
Reply to  Paul Knudsen

Wow! A $10 million gift. Cool story.

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