Elaine Fogel

nonprofit customer service

what bugs customersNo matter how big or small your business or nonprofit is, customer service can make or break its brand. At some point, most of your customers will seek customer support for a variety of reasons. Can you guess what bugs them the most?

According to Consumer Reports National Research Center, 88% of the people surveyed recently had dealt with customer service in the past year—to question a bill, request a repair, return ill-fitting merchandise, and more. Many of them didn’t like the experience and had a problem with customer service. Although the findings relate to B2C (business-to-consumer), it’s worth looking at for B2Bs and nonprofits.

The findings:

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np-customer-serviceNonprofit customer service. What’s that? Well, the same as it is in the business world, except that most nonprofit “customers”  represent stakeholders like donors, volunteers, members, and clients.

So, why do nonprofits need to focus on customer service when these “stakeholders” aren’t traditional “buyers?” Because, like other organization types, customer service excellence ties into their customers’ brand experiences and contributes to their organizations’ sustainability and success.

Makes sense, right? But, in my experience, not enough nonprofits are customer oriented and “get” why it’s so important.

As I head out next week to do two days of nonprofit customer service training, I thought it would be à propos to share some of my ideas.


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Top 10 words over white backgroundAs we begin a new year, I thought it would be apropos to create a list of the top 10 posts I wrote for the nonprofit sector.

The Smart Way to Use Donor Gifts

Do thank-you gifts actually increase contributions? According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, two Yale University researchers tried to answer this question in a 2012 study of charitable behavior.

Is Your Nonprofit Marketing to Boomers Effectively? 7 Nonprofit Boomer Marketing Tips

Did you know that Baby Boomers contribute 43% of all charitable giving? In fact, Baby Boomers control 70% of Americans’ disposable income, yet only 5% of advertising is geared toward their age group. Is your nonprofit organization adequately targeting them and marketing to them effectively?

3 Tips on Nonprofit Customer Service

Yesterday, I facilitated a half-day customer service training workshop for a local nonprofit organization. I find it refreshing when I receive inquiries from nonprofits, across the country, about this topic – not because they aren’t doing a good job at it, but, because they recognize that their level of customer service extends past the receptionist and front-line staff. In fact, their adoption of a customer orientation can have a great bearing on their success. With that in mind, here are 3 tips on nonprofit customer service…

Nonprofit is a Tax Status!

Nonprofit organizations are exempt from paying federal taxes in many countries. But, that doesn’t mean they should be exempt from operating like businesses. I have been speaking and writing on this topic for a long time, so I especially enjoyed Marc Chardon’s Huffington Post article called, “Nonprofit Trends: Tax Status vs. Business Model.” Hallelujah!

Yes, Size Does Matter – in Nonprofit Branding That is

When it comes to brand awareness in the nonprofit world, size definitely does matter. A new study by Grey Matter Research of Phoenix, Arizona asked a demographically representative sample of American adults to name the first nonprofit organization, charity, or ministry that comes to mind for them (excluding any local place of worship). Here’s what this research uncovered…

Should Nonprofits Use Consumer Tactics to Build Support?

Here’s a thought. What if nonprofits used consumer tactics like couponing, discounts, and contests to drive support? Sure, it’s a bit unusual, but not unprecedented. The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation in Toronto, Canada (my old home town) started the first fundraising lottery and many others throughout North America followed suit. Not only are the prizes amazing, they raise a ton of money.

But, what about smaller nonprofits? They can certainly do things on a smaller scale.

Don’t Be Chintzy When Honoring Donors, Volunteers, and Employees

If you’ve ever worked or volunteered for a charitable organization, or made a significant donation to a cause, how did the organizations show their appreciation to you? It’s a fairly common practice to give out awards and gifts of appreciation to those who help move a nonprofit’s mission forward. What many organizations may not realize is that the award or gift they give out speaks volumes about their brands.

Charitable Online Giving Success Depends on Relationship Building

Just as in traditional fundraising, building relationships is crucial to a nonprofit’s success at online fundraising. So says The Online Giving Study from Network for Good.

Nonprofits Spending More Time Using Social Media – But is It Paying Off?

A recent, small study by Vertical Response says that a majority of nonprofits are spending more time using social media now than they did a year ago. Findings show that…

My 2013 Dream for Charities and Donors

When my nonprofit marketing colleague, Nancy Schwartz of the Getting Attention blog, asked me to write about my dream for the nonprofit community this year, it didn’t take long to come up with one. In reality, I could write an entire book on the subject, but I narrowed it down to one dream.


Here’s to a successful year in 2014 to all my nonprofit colleagues and friends!

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