Please deposit my donation.

About two months ago our hot water heater broke and we had it replaced. (Reminder: check the age of your hot water heater). I still haven’t gotten the bill from the plumber.

As a small business person myself, I had to wonder how my plumber could stay in business with such delays in invoicing. I guess cash isn’t a problem for them.

What’s this got to do with your nonprofit? It made me think about delays around money.

As a donor, it makes me crazy when I mail a check for a contribution to an organization I care about and the check doesn’t get cashed right away. Let me say that my definition of “right away” stretches to a few days (I’m willing to give small organizations some leeway, though they tend to really need the money the most).

But after that, the failure to cash my check raises a series of doubts in my mind:

  • First, did my check arrive at all?
  • Second, did they really need my gift so much if they don’t feel a need to deposit it in their bank account.
  • Third, should I have other worries about their internal cash controls if  checks are undeposited for more than a day or two?

If this describes you, it’s time to tighten up your internal controls.  Here’s a helpful toolkit from the Center for Nonprofit Excellence at the United Way of Central New Mexico to get you started.

Please don’t make your donors ask “did you get my check?” It doesn’t inspire confidence or the next gift.

3 responses to Please deposit my donation.

  1. Kirsten Bullock

    What a great toolkit. Having gone through internal auditor training I have a special appreciation for all the risks and controls covered in the tool kit (I worked on-staff with the Institute of Internal Auditors to help them raise money for internal audit research, so I went through the training to better understand what it was all about).

    Thanks for sharing such a great resource!

  2. Betsy Baker

    Gayle, the toolkit is a new resource for me so I appreciate you sharing it. Yes! It is so frustrating to have to wonder what happened to your contribution. In addition to the doubts you presented in your post, it’s just plain courteous to deposit a check and then thank the donor for it. They should never be left wondering.

  3. Sherry Truhlar

    Gayle, thanks for sharing the resource. You are so right that a small business and many nonprofits are similar – the leaders have to wear many hats and need to be excellent at all the tasks.And having timely responses in all areas is so important.

    Not only does the deposit delay create doubts but it doesn’t present the image that the organization is a good steward. Not the picture you want to paint for donors.

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