I’ve talked before about how brand loyalty isn’t eroding (we’re just saving our loyalty for where we feel valued). Today I’m doing to share four lessons from an organization that just doesn’t get it: The Shakespeare Theatre.

Lesson #1: People are more likely to donate if they feel connected to you.

In 20 years, the Shakespeare Theatre only called me to ask for money. No one called just to find out how I liked my subscription, whether I had any concerns, or even just to say “thank you.” They never held a subscriber-only Q&A with cast members (at least they never invited me), or sent t-shirts, mugs, or even bookmarks to mark milestones (e.g., 10-year subscriber!), or any of the little things that say “we appreciate your business.”

Lesson #2: People are more likely to donate if they feel their donation matters.

The organizations that get donations from me year after year are the ones where I understand where my money’s going and that it’s getting good bang for the buck. Feeding America, for example, states upfront that “your gift makes a big impact–every dollar you donate helps provide 8 meals to families struggling with hunger.” The Shakespeare Theatre’s individual contributions page lists as a reason, “The incomparable Michael Kahn.” Huh? That would be like me setting up a foundation and listing “Daria Steigman’s running it!” as a reason to give.

Lesson #3: You need a CRM system that codes for quirkiness.

This year, I transferred my tickets to the friends who have been using most of the tickets over the last 2-3 years. (They’re good seats. We wanted to keep them “in house.”) I’ll probably go to one play, maybe two. But since the account is no longer in my name, the Shakespeare Theatre called me three times in rapid succession to ask about renewing. The first time I explained that I’d transferred the tickets. The second time I explained it again. The third time I told them to stop calling. “This season?” they asked. “No. Forever.”

Lesson #4: There’s a difference between subscribers and people who subscribe.

The first one is about numbers and dollars. The other is about, well, people. Savvy organizations know that the best way to guarantee the first is to truly value the second.

Photo by Mark Hillary (Flickr).