Random Thoughts on Life and Work

January 5, 2012

It’s About Choice

I had an experience recently with an online services provider that illustrated the point about providing choice to your client base.

The company supplies a service to charitable organizations that facilitates third-party fundraising – allowing constituents to raise money for charity. We pay the company for an account with branded landing pages and then there is also a charge assessed to each transaction. We have been generally happy with the service though it is maybe not as robust as it could be. We have a large number of individuals who use it to raise money for us while participating in athletic events in particular – including myself.

They recently implemented a change to the way that donations are displayed on the fundraisers’ pages. The page now displays only the “intended donation” rather than the full donation. And here lies the challenge. When a donor makes a gift on a page, they are provided with the option of covering the fee that the company normally charges to the transaction. If the donor chooses to cover that amount, then the only amount shown is the gift amount. So for example, if I make a gift of $25 and chose to cover the fee, the additional $1.92 is not shown on the page. It does however come across to the charity as part of the gift when we download the weekly gift report.

Here is where I think they made the mistake:

  1. They assumed that every charity wanted the exact same thing from the software.
  2. They assumed that the fee charged to a gift when the donor covers the fee is less of a gift than when the amount is not covered by the donor.
  3. They assumed that all charities calculate their fundraising campaigns the same way.
  4. In applying the change to active pages (rather than just new pages) they placed the onus on the fundraiser to have to explain to donors why their totals changed.

In today’s world, it is about options and choice. If you don’t make your systems flexible, you lose the ability to effectively serve. You may retain customers who can’t afford to leave but those who can won’t put up with less than effective systems.

Needless to say, we are looking at making a major change.


1 Comment »

  1. Great delivery. Outstanding arguments. Keep up the great work.

    Comment by Marge — February 2, 2012 @ 2:12 am | Reply

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