Complaints arrive well ahead of money, often by phone. It is important that people in the organisation know this, or your appeals will have a bad reputation early on. This is hard to shake, even if they become very successful financially. Keep your switchboard, press office and mail-opening room informed, so that they can deal professionally with taking calls, handling complaints and passing them on to be dealt with by the right person – usually you!
Always be ready to apologise and explain. Your members will understand, if you are prompt and courteous. Naturally, if you have made an error, do apologise and give a full explanation of how it came about. Someone who complains and is dealt with satisfactorily will often become a more convinced supporter than before.
Occasionally, you will have letters from people who are obviously bigoted, or incorrect in what they say, or who feel they have a genuine case for complaint when you have done nothing wrong. In these cases you can do no more than state your case clearly and simply. You may feel that you can never convince that person you are right, but you should always reply courteously. If, however, phone callers are abusive you can just put the phone down.
Letters that are rude or offensive go straight in the bin, though sometimes they can be very funny. Do not make an issue of these or try to reply, unless you want to receive another.
More difficult to handle are letters from the seriously disturbed, that start out just slightly odd, but by the second or third letter are manifestly deranged. Again, this correspondence must be brought firmly to a close by clearly stating your case, and saying that you do not want any further correspondence on the subject. You may choose to reply one last time, stating that you will not reply to any further letters, but it is best to stop as soon as possible. Such correspondence can be very time consuming and distract you from your real goals. Often, such correspondents will write to several people in the organisation, keeping long pointless exchanges going indefinitely. It is best if one person takes over all answers and brings them to an end.