We fundraisers love communication. We’re passionate about telling stories, showing our donors what their gifts have achieved, encouraging others to get involved.
We’re fantastic at getting our message out. But what about getting our message in?
I’m sure many of us have been in meetings with our own teams, folks from Finance, a project lead, a senior manager, or pretty much anyone with our org’s logo on their payslip and discovered that they’ve no idea what our message is. Or what our latest campaign is about. Or when our last campaign finished. Frustrating isn’t a strong enough word.
What’s worse though, is when we find out that a donor or prospective donor contacted another department about a significant life change, and that information hasn’t been passed on. For whatever reason, it’s not made it onto the database. And we’ve only discovered it by upsetting the person so much they’ve needed to call us directly.
This is a fundraiser’s worst nightmare (or one of them, at least). You’ve just lost that person’s trust, possibly permanently. And while you could just think “meh, well it’s only one person”, what’s the cumulative effect of that attitude? How many “only one” instances does it take before you’ve got a major problem?
There’s no way to know everything. And there’s no way, realistically, to get every single person who works for your charity on exactly the same page 100% of the time. But examples like the one above, which happened to me just this morning, show that we have to keep trying. We have to keep working to break down internal silos (much as I hate that phrase), we have to keep talking to as many of our colleagues as will sit still long enough to listen.
But above all, we have to take responsibility. We have to own up when we get it wrong, and not just blame things on an admin or system error. Donors can see right through that. We can’t point fingers at other departments, that’s just counter-productive. What we can do though, is keep communicating.
You’d think that we’d be excellent at that, right?