Secret Shoppers for Schools?

Posted on Sep 16, 2015 by Mark Muehl - Best Practices

Over the years, you have seen my posts about the importance of meeting the Endowment Match Challenge available from The Lutheran Foundation. You have also heard my spiel on the importance of donor relations, proper and prompt gift acknowledgements, following donor intent, etc.Last February, The Lutheran Schools Partnership initiated a "Secret Shopper" experiment and donated $20 each to our 17 elementary Partner schools. Our "donor" was an alumnus with a fictitious name but a real Fort Wayne address.Our goals were to track the following results: Did schools send a gift acknowledgement? How quickly schools responded with an acknowledgement? What sort of acknowledgement was sent? Was the gift was added to their school endowment match?We found the results very interesting: 12 of the 17 schools (70%) sent us an acknowledgement. Of those thank you letters/cards (some were hand-written by staff!), most were received within two weeks, with six of them received within a week. A response time between two days and two weeks would receive an "A" in my grade book! Donors want to know that their gift was received, appreciated, and used for the purpose intended, and a speedy reply is always noticed.In addition to the gift details, the receipts and thank-you letters should also have certain language that the donor's accountant would appreciate, as well. For school leaders wanting to ensure their gift policies and procedures are up-to-date, give me a call or send a quick email. You can also view this Charitable Deduction Primer from our friends at Baden Gage & Schroeder LLC:P.S. Will we continue our Secret Shopper effort? What do you think?

Photo credit: United States Library of Congress,NAVY DEPARTMENT, U.S. BINOCULARS