survival200Wow, what a disconnect. Let me tell you about it, so you can make sure your organization avoids this kind of blunder.

Last Friday morning I got an email from our local performing arts center (PAC). The place has been around 10 years and is a gorgeous, intimate performance venue. We’ve attended several great shows there over the years, but many of the bookings were second- or third-rate.

Now, thanks to new management, things have changed. And the line up for this year is fantastic. So when the email dropped into my inbox, I opened it with excitement and jumped online to 1) join—both to support the place and benefit from the member discount; and 2) get tickets to three shows.

All that happened seamlessly and I was joyfully emailing my husband about the shows we’d be seeing when I received this email:

Dear Ms. Howell,

Thank you for your support, and for your membership.  I am processing your membership this afternoon and I have a question for you.  Would like to add a second name to your membership, as the Family level allows for two adults? 

If so, please let me know the name of the individual, with title (Dr. Mr. etc.) AND their relationship to you

 Thank you in advance. Have a wonderful day!


XXXX (the Community Engagement Manager) 

Really—Ms. Howell?

  • When I had just completed a long form with my name?
  • Why are you making your new member work, in asking me to  email you info on my partner, instead of including those fields in your membership form? Really?
  • Where’s your arms-open-wide welcome, which has to be more than one sentence?
  • Where’s your automated series of welcome messages, in which to talk to me…Nancy Schwartz? Still haven’t received a thing! Come on, people, we’re living in 2015!

This might seem like a small thing to you, but “little things” like this count a lot. When an individual invests the time and effort to get to know our orgs, and steps forward to connect with us—as a donor, volunteer, program participant or..,—it’s a no brainer.

Respond quickly and vibrantly, with welcome, appreciation and respect. Treat her as you would a relative you’ve never met (but always wanted to) till today, or the love of your life the first time you know that’s the fact. I know YOU can do it much better.

Have YOU ever been disappointed as a donor, volunteer or program participant of/with another organization?

Please share your experience—and how the org could have done better—in comments below.

P.S. I’m leaving the organization unnamed here, as it’s local and I want to do everything I can to supports its success!