Donor-Centered in Extraordinary Circumstances

My spam filter is a bully and it suffers from serious mood swings.

It turns on me with no warning, yanking emails from long-standing clients and friends into mail jail; then changes its mind the next day and lets them flow through.  I’ve been trying to find a pattern to all of this but I can’t.  So, I’ve learned to check my junk file at the beginning of every day.

I was doing that this morning when I came across a spammed email from Médecins sans frontières (Doctors Without Borders) to whom I had made a gift two days before for disaster relief in Haiti.  I clicked through.

Up came a short field update which first thanked me again (I had already received an auto-thanks for my online gift and, within an hour, my tax receipt with another message of thanks).  The update then concisely reported:

  • the types of injuries MSF medical personnel are commonly treating
  • the number of treatment facilities they have already established and how they have been able to do so among the ruins
  • reassurance that MSF’s medical stocks are not yet exhausted
  • the quantity and types of medical and humanitarian supplies that will arrive in Haiti later that day
  • the number of MSF staff already working on the ground and the number who are on their way there

MSF’s communication also promised more, regular updates from the front and explained how I could also follow their efforts on Facebook and Twitter.

None of the information I got in this update has been featured in stories by the mainstream media.  And, while it acknowledged the horrific extent of this disaster, the update’s language was practical, confident and reassuring.  After reading it, I was less anxious and very, very glad that I had sent them a contribution.

Sincere appreciation and measurable results – for ten years this is exactly what donors have been telling me and my company that they want.  And, it’s all that they want.  What a donor-centered example Médecins sans frontières has set — delivering all that donors want under the most extraordinarily difficult circumstances.  If they can do it, so can every other not-for-profit organization that depends on charitable contributions from donors.

I then did one more thing…I clicked: “always trust emails from Médecins sans frontières.”

Showing 3 comments
  • Paul Motz

    “Sincere appreciation and measurable results – for ten years this is exactly what donors have been telling me and my company that they want. And, it’s all that they want.”

    This has been my mantra for years courtesy Penelope’s research and book.

  • Simon Barnes

    At the American Bible Society we acknowledged the need five years ago to provide donors with measureable results and to give timely reporting on what was achieved against expected results. To that end a fully staffed team working in our Global Scriture Impact unit do nothing but research evaluate and report not only on our projects but projects for a number of other not for profits at their request.

  • Edie Jones

    Thank you. A great reminder and how I wish we could be as immediate as Doctors Without Borders was for you. I’m sure other not-for-profits with an extremely small staff (less than .5 fte) have a very difficult time accomplishing this. However, It’s a philosophy well worth subscribing to and well worth doing.


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