The Chronicle of the Horse
MagazineNewsHorse SportsHorse CareCOTH StoreVoicesThe Chronicle UntackedDirectoriesMarketplaceDates & Results
 
Results 1 to 13 of 13
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr. 16, 2013
    Posts
    2

    Default Would you think your donation went to the wrong place?

    I make a yearly donation to the athletic department of my alma mater, a major state university with a very large DI athletic program. I always designate the entire gift to a specific team. When I check my account my gift shows up correctly designated to that team.

    But for the second year in a row, I have just received a thank you note from a different team (the same incorrect team as last year). I know they sometimes have student-athletes write general thank you postcards and send them to donors without mentioning the specific sport, but this was a personalized, handwritten note from a head coach thanking me for my donation to her team and with a picture of the team enclosed. It made several references to my gift to Name of Specific Team Fund. I also received a (completely generic) e-mail thanking me for donating to the annual fund of an entirely different team several weeks ago, but checked to make sure my designation was correct and brushed it off since it looked like a mass email.

    I spoke to the athletic department and have been assured that the mistake was made when the coaches were given the lists of who to thank for donating to their team, and not when the funds were distributed. In other words, my funds were correctly distributed to the team of my choosing but a member of the office staff mistakenly put my name on the wrong coach's "thank these people" list. Again.

    I'm inclined to believe that my funds were given to the correct place, since it is all done electronically, but the story hasn't been sitting well with me. I don't believe that my name was put on the wrong list by a careless staff member two years in a row, and the same wrong list to boot. (Wouldn't these lists be compiled electronically anyway?) I have never even purchased a ticket to watch this team play, so there should be nothing linking my account to them. Last year, when the mistake was "corrected" (like this year, I was told my money went to the right team and it was an office mistake), I never received an acknowledgement from the correct team, which I know they do send out.

    I'm curious what others would do in this situation. Should I just let it go even if I think the story is fishy, and trust that the money went where it should? Would you trust this version of events? Or does anyone with experience in managing donations and working with donors have any insight?



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct. 30, 2008
    Posts
    3,096

    Default

    Absolutely sounds fishy to me.
    Flip a coin. It's not what side lands that matters, but what side you were hoping for when the coin was still in the air.

    You call it boxed wine. I call it carboardeaux.


    3 members found this post helpful.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug. 1, 2011
    Posts
    127

    Default

    Bottom line is that this is just terrible stewardship. Mistakes do happen. And maybe it happened just the way you were told. But it should have alerted the the development office to make the extra effort to ensure and assure you that your annual contribution was valued and applied as directed. Now that it has happened again, you need to decide what if anything it will take to restore your confidence. If you think the issue is how things are managed in the Athletics department, you may wish to consider directing your support for that sport to another organization, and perhaps allocating your annual gift to a different area of the University.

    Do you have a direct relationship with any development officer at the University? If so, I would make sure that this person is aware of your concerns. I may have other suggestions for you depending on how concerned you are about this, and also on your overall donor relationship to the institution.

    Feel free to pm me.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep. 7, 2009
    Location
    Lexington, KY
    Posts
    16,945

    Default

    I would be on phone with the development director. My daughter's high school tried to pull that when a couple of people made a substantial donation to the polo team and they put the money in the general fund.
    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." ~Immanuel Kant


    2 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec. 29, 2012
    Location
    La La Land
    Posts
    478

    Default

    All I can say is that would bother a control freak like me nuts, and wow you are a kind and generous person, that should at least be thanked properly, if the donation did indeed make it to your specified location.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    May. 16, 2000
    Posts
    1,362

    Default

    Call the Gift Processing department, usually part of Development, and they can tell you which funds your gifts are linked to. Your donor record is open to you. For what it's worth, I would suspect it is not an overtly nefarious act, and is more likely they neglected to put you on the proper donor recognition list. It's not good stewardship, but it happens. Good luck, I'd want to know, as well!

    ETA: Alternatively, call a Development Officer in Athletics, tell them you donate annually to x program and the recognition problem. They will sort it out for you, and make dang sure it never happens again. They want to keep donors' trust and recognize this is a Big Deal.
    Last edited by Calico; Apr. 16, 2013 at 07:45 PM.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep. 5, 2005
    Location
    Mass.
    Posts
    6,608

    Default

    I will chime in, as the gift manager for a college. Any development department worth its salt would be mortified to learn about this sort of error but, trust me, THEY WANT TO KNOW. We do NOT want unhappy donors! Please call the advancement department and ask to speak to their Annual Fund director and/or their gift manager. We do indeed act and fix things!

    Edit: Despite what other posters have suggested, trust me, there is nothing "fishy" going on. The school is not deliberately mis-designating your gift. It is either a gift entry error or the Advancement office is not refreshing the lists that they send to the Athletic department. It is a screw-up, yes, but not an intentional one.
    I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care. ~ Dave Barry


    5 members found this post helpful.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May. 16, 2000
    Posts
    1,362

    Default

    Public thumbs up to Guin's post. Please notify someone in Development/Advancement, they WILL make it right.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan. 9, 2009
    Location
    a little north of Columbus GA
    Posts
    1,888

    Default

    Call them and talk to someone. Ask for a printout of your donor record.

    Having worked in Development (on the IT side) I can actually make a case for the same mistake happening twice if they pulled up your record and just copied last year's transaction.

    I would think the lists of who to thank are generated from that data, so I actually _would_ be concerned that the gift went to the wrong place.
    --
    Wendy
    ... and Patrick



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec. 2, 2009
    Posts
    3,119

    Default

    I'm also going to add - don't assume the systems are linked or even make sense. In some universities they are very good - others the IT systems leave a little to be desired (worked at two universities in IT, cried a lot).



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug. 30, 2000
    Location
    Greensboro, NC
    Posts
    1,785

    Default

    It's completely up to you. As someone who serves on the board of a nonprofit therapeutic riding center, understand that it is a balance - resources are very limited in a nonprofit, and we want to get your donation to the absolute spot that you intend, without creating so much administrative burden that your donation is ineffective (i.e. if 35% of your donation is spent processing it, we may have terrific software that tracks where every penny goes, but we're not using your money wisely or well to effect change).

    Call them (nicely). If they make it clear that they don't really care where your gift was intended to go, find another deserving non-profit (there are MANY) that suits your requirements and values your dollars sufficiently to get them to the right place. If they (hopefully) make it clear that they do care where your dollars go and want to get it right, thank them for it - it is not necessarily the seamless, easy process that we all wish for. Often we are in a position of guessing at donor wishes, and last year's donation is the best resource we have. And sometimes, in an effort to direct donor dollars to the mission of the organization, we are not spending dollars on sophisticated tracking software, etc.

    Don't get me wrong, a university is very different from a local nonprofit, but we do face some of the same issues - one of them being that we have to make the call, for all of our constituents, at some level, what we find acceptable. To overgeneralize, would our donors rather we be 99% accurate but spend 81% of their donation to directly impact people, or that we be 95% accurate but spend 85% of their donation to directly impact people? No pressure - but choose the wrong answer, and you've lowered your operating budget for the year :-).

    The right answer is dependent on both the donor, the organization, and a host of other variables - and that is why every donor needs to find an organization that is the right fit for them personally. Don't misunderstand - I am not making excuses, and if an organization offers a particular level of donation, they are obligated to get the dollars where they promise. Without fail.

    But, if you want your dollars managed to the level that they get to one of, say, 25 different sports or other specified segments, understand that there is an associated processing cost to get to that level of detail. And that split may not be the best use of your donated funds.

    We all have our own priorities as donors, and our giving should reflect that. For me personally, I want my dollars to be used to make the maximum impact in improving someone else's life. To that end, I trust the nonprofit to which I donate to use my dollars to that end - if I think they don't, I don't donate a penny to them. And if I do, I trust them to be a better judge than I of where the funds would be most effective, and to put them there. Charitable giving is a very personal decision, and you are the only person who needs to feel that your hard-earned dollars are used well. But if you don't get that feeling, keep looking - there are so many terrific causes out there that none of us should put up with poorly managed ones.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May. 16, 2000
    Posts
    4,691

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Guin View Post
    I will chime in, as the gift manager for a college. Any development department worth its salt would be mortified to learn about this sort of error but, trust me, THEY WANT TO KNOW. We do NOT want unhappy donors! Please call the advancement department and ask to speak to their Annual Fund director and/or their gift manager. We do indeed act and fix things!

    Edit: Despite what other posters have suggested, trust me, there is nothing "fishy" going on. The school is not deliberately mis-designating your gift. It is either a gift entry error or the Advancement office is not refreshing the lists that they send to the Athletic department. It is a screw-up, yes, but not an intentional one.
    Absolutely dittoing everything Guin said. I also work in a development office in the area of donor engagement and stewardship. The LAST thing we want is an unhappy donor, and we will do back handsprings to make things right when someone complains. I would contact your alma mater's gift recording office first as it is people in this department who enter all the details of your gift--date, amount, designation, etc. If everything looks good there, then contact the athletics department again. If you are a large enough donor, than you have a primary staff person assigned to you, and this person will be able to rectify things quickly and efficiently. However (at most (all?) colleges), only top tier donors are staffed, so this may not be a route you can take. One thing I can say for sure is that your college really does appreciate your contribution. However, it sounds as though their recordkeeping needs some cleaning up, and you should make it known to them. They can't fix it if they don't know it's broken. Be sure to emphasize that the same mistake has been made two years in a row.
    Charter member of the I-Refuse-to-Relinquish-My-Whip Clique



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr. 16, 2013
    Posts
    2

    Default

    Thank you, everyone, for your input and advice. The people I have spoken with at the university have been very kind and reassured me that the gift has gone to the right place, even though I still don't quite understand the mistake. Per the advice on this thread, I will contact someone in the development department (had no idea what their role was- thanks!) to understand how the mistake was made.

    Perhaps it should be enough to be confident that my donation went to the right place, but I do feel that if they chose to make personal thank you's a part of the donor recognition, it should be executed properly. If that can't be done, perhaps they need to rethink this particular part of their plan, as nice an idea as it is.


    1 members found this post helpful.

Similar Threads

  1. And once again their hearts in the wrong place
    By SmartAlex in forum Off Course
    Replies: 43
    Last Post: Nov. 10, 2012, 08:54 PM
  2. Ooops wrong place.
    By Equibrit in forum Off Course
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: Jan. 25, 2012, 07:57 PM
  3. Replies: 3
    Last Post: Dec. 26, 2011, 09:50 PM
  4. Egg Donation
    By ReeseTheBeast in forum Off Topic
    Replies: 16
    Last Post: May. 8, 2011, 06:40 PM
  5. Nevermind posted in wrong place! Sorry
    By bhebert19 in forum Dressage
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: Feb. 13, 2011, 08:16 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •