Creating a Great Donation Experience (2 of 3)

In Receiving a Donation, we mentioned three components needed in a great donation experience.

A Clean and Uncluttered Receiving Area

One of the biggest challenges in thrift is to keep the back door free of clutter. The higher the donation volume, the bigger the challenge. In part 1 of the video series, 3 Steps to Efficient Processing, we share that every time a donation is touched, a cost is added. So, keeping clutter away and costs low requires an efficient pre-sort and trash removal system.

The negative effect on the brand by non-performance is incalculable. Seeing large piles of donated goods communicates low or no appreciation of a donor’s gift. Have you ever given a gift to someone who did not appreciate it? The lack of desire, expressed verbally or non-verbally, generates negative emotion. And we try very hard to avoid this feeling.

A Plan for Engagement with the Donor

A system is critical to ensure continuity and consistency at the back door of a successful thrift operation. This system is made up of three parts.

A Scripted Introduction

It is not accidental that most successful chain stores greet their customers in a strategic fashion. The donor is our most important audience. How we greet them is of ultimate importance. Coaching to use a carefully crafted message will start each donation experience out in a proper way.

Assistance Offered

Do you assist the donor in unloading his or her donation? If not, why not? If you think it happens naturally without specific instructions, you might be surprised.

Does your back-parking area have a bell informing your staff when a donor arrives? The objective of making each donation experience special for the donor requires this type of service.

A Scripted “Thank You”

Just as the introduction should be scripted, the final words to the donor should be as well. Include two key points in this step.

One, connect the dots. Explain how the donation helps further the cause of the nonprofit being supported by the store. This step can turn an emotionally challenging experience into a feel-good experience for the donor.

Two, simply say “thank you” for the gift just received. Regardless of the value or content, expressing heartfelt thanks should be a non-negotiable in every donation receiving area.

The Right Person

Receiving donations is clearly one of the hardest jobs in thrift. The elements of physical exertion, inclement weather, and sometimes hostile donors make this position in the company a hard one to fill. Choosing the right person requires management to assess an individual’s personality and temperament. Hire this position based on an outgoing personality. Coach and train the technical skills of the job. Failure to have a happy face at the back door will leave a lasting impression that is not desirable.

Next, we’ll calculate the payoff for creating a great donation experience.

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