Whitemail is any donation that is not accompanied by a remit device, remit envelope, or any other vehicle that would indicate what influenced the donor to make a gift to your organization. Most nonprofits don’t properly manage these types of gifts.
For The Salvation Army, the majority of whitemail gifts are provided in two ways:
- A donor drops their check off directly at the local Corps office.
- A gift is made from a donor’s online banking system.
Over the years, we have seen the latter continue to increase, as more donors become accustomed to utilizing their online banking system, instead of personal checks.
3 Whitemail Best Practices You Should Follow:
- Record your whitemail gifts in your donor database.
We cannot stress this practice enough. If the donor’s whitemail gift is NOT recorded in your donor base, then that donor’s gift history will NOT be accurate. For example, if a donor calls your office and requests a listing of their gift history, and you did not record their whitemail gift, then you will not have a complete list. The donor will be concerned about bookkeeping practices and whether or not the organization even appreciated her gift! If the gift is not entered into the database, then she probably did not receive a thank-you acknowledgement, since this is most often automatically triggered with the gift entry recording.
- Don’t assume whitemail gifts are anonymous.
Over the years, I have heard the opinion from local Corps: “Since that whitemail gift was received locally, we should assume the donor wants to be anonymous.” That is not necessarily true, and assumptions should never be made on behalf of a donor and their intended behavior. Unless a donor personally indicates he or she wants to be anonymous or doesn’t want to be thanked, then you should process their gift as a regular gift entry. If the donor has indicated their preference for anonymity or a lack of acknowledgment, there are options within the donor record to indicate those requests.
- Don’t miss out on planned giving opportunities.
Let’s say you have a donor who gives regularly to your direct mail remits, but also drops off a check on a quarterly basis to the local Corps. The quarterly checks are considered whitemail. But if these additional gifts haven’t been officially recorded over the last 10 years, a planned giving officer may bypass this donor based on the donor’s incomplete database record. On the other hand, if this donor’s record was accurately updated to include the whitemail checks, they would probably be at the top of a planned giving officer’s list!
Failure to record whitemail gifts can be detrimental to your organization!
Besides the donor’s gift not be acknowledged with a thank you, their giving history will not be accurate moving forward. This will not only negatively impact you in the current year, but for years to come, your organization will also miss out on potentially valuable planned-giving opportunities. These best practices are all about the donor. You want her to be happy and support your organization for many years. Don’t lose her trust by not properly maintaining your whitemail records.
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