FLICK the haters: complaints can be a good thing

Quick note: This isn’t just another article about how you can turn a bad donor experience into a good experience by handling it properly!

At pretty much every job I’ve ever had, people FLIP OUT when lots of angry emails come into the supporter services inboxes. Especially senior people.

Here’s a truth to repeat in those moments to quickly ground yourself:

Your best campaigns – the ones that motivate most people into action – will probably also generate the most complaints.

If you’re doing your fundraising properly, you’ll be telling a deeply emotional story that will feel uncomfortable. To lots of people, they want to right the wrong you’ve just told them about.

But there’s also a small section of people who don’t seem to enjoy life. They’ll just get angry that you’ve made them feel uncomfortable and will flick off an email about how bad you are.

It can be easy to get caught up in the hysteria about needing to change stuff to address the complaints, especially if your boss is the one receiving emails. So, take a step back and do this:

  • Figure out how many complaints is “a lot” (often it’ll be fewer than ten)
  • Look at how many donations you’re getting
  • If you’re getting lots and lots of donations, don’t worry about it – you’re running a great campaign! Get back to the people who have written you the angry messages, but pat yourself on the back for a job well done – because of you, you’re raising lots of money to make your mission possible
  • If you’re generating a lot of complaints and your donation rate is shitty, your campaign might actually be pretty grim. I can’t help you there, better go into damage control mode.

It’s about reframing the conversation to “look at how much money I’ve generated for our cause!”

You’re doing great work.