Institute of Fundraising: Rubbish rewards are no route to loyalty

We often look to the commercial world for latest trends and assume that cutting-edge, sophisticated practices dominate. Take customer service for example. The commercial world knows how to manage customers properly ... doesn't it?

Yesterday, I received a nasty looking piece of pale blue, perforated, tear-off junk mail. We all recognise the type. Its starts with the words "valued" or "congratulations" and comes in that tone of colour that screams "junk mail!" as soon as you open the envelope. I was just about to chuck it in the rubbish bin when something caught my eye. It was from my bank, the same bank I have used for 25 loyal years. For once, I bothered to read it. It was a certificate rewarding me for being a valued customer.

My reward status was stamped "guaranteed", and I had an expiry date for my reward certificate. Always in credit, never in the red, I began to feel the first sense of pride at having my loyalty over a quarter of a century recognised.

Then my jaw dropped. The 'rewards', while being seriously cheap and nasty (a plastic calculator, illuminated pen to write in bed - that sort of rubbish) would cost me £3.97 each. This was bad enough, but the only place it told me I had to pay was in tiny print in the last line of the page.

The bank, helpfully, would just help itself to my account. And no signature necessary!

If companies that are as big and rich as this can get it so wrong, then there is a lesson for all of us. Your charity's reputation is far too precious for you not to take a really close interest in what is being done in your charity's name.

Now, can anyone recommend a good bank?

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