Contributors to public radio in Little Rock, KUAR/KLRE, have gotten notes recently about a failure to process credit card charges for pledges made to support the station. Some $26,000 in 284 donations were lost as a result.
Pledges made in October during the fall fund drive were not processed, givers were told. “There was not a security breach,” said a letter from Sarah Donaghey, the development director. “This was, unfortunately, a combination of technical glitch and human error. Your gift was among several hundred credit card gifts which were not processed by the UALR Foundation Development office and we at KLRE & KUAR UALR Public Radio only recently found out about the issue.”
The note apologized that it was too late to get a credit on taxes for a 2014 gift but asked those who weren’t charged for pledges to consider renewing the pledge.
I asked Donaghey for more details. Her response follows:
All donations to KLRE and KUAR are processed through the UALR Office of Alumni and Development. After receiving calls and e-mails from a number of donors asking why their donations had not yet appeared on their statements, we asked the Office of Alumni and Development to investigate the situation and were alarmed and disappointed to learn that from October through December, 284 donations (totaling $26,302) made by credit card did not go through. Some of these were one-time gifts from new or rejoining members and some were additional gifts from members. As we understand it, in some cases, the card had expired or was declined while in other cases, the card was incorrectly processed. Regrettably, we were not informed of the issues as they occurred and thus only became aware of the extent of the situation when, in January, we pressed for an accounting of the last quarter’s credit card donations.
Additionally, there were a number of sustaining members who give to the stations monthly whose donations did not go through. However, due to the volume of donors affected, we decided not to contact the monthly givers. In most cases, the gift was missed for just one of the three months. Also, the amount most sustaining members give on a monthly basis is smaller since the donation is spread over the course of the year.
We became aware of this situation in early January and felt we had enough information by mid-January to begin contacting donors. The point of this outreach has been to inform donors of the situation, to assure them that there was not a security breach, to apologize for the situation, and to invite them to make a gift anew. With the help of staff from the Office of Alumni and Development, we began attempting to reach donors by telephone. For those we were unable to reach by phone (many of whom we tried to call three times), we are in the process of sending e-mails to those for whom we have an address. Ultimately, by early next week, I expect to mail hard copy letters to donors we were unable to reach by phone or e-mail.
Unfortunately, there is no way to recoup this loss. We are grateful to have loyal and understanding members and do not expect this situation to negatively affect future giving. In fact, as disappointing and discouraging as this situation has been, it has brought to light a number of improvements we can make which we think will make for a better giving experience for our donors. With some new eyes on our giving processes (I began with the stations in December and the Office of Alumni and Development has a new director of accounting this week) and attention from management in the Office of Alumni and Development, we are actively and enthusiastically discussing how we can, and will, make giving to UALR Public Radio as seamless and automated as possible. Lastly, we are pleased to have learned today that the Office of Alumni and Development has generously decided to direct some funding from their budget to that of the radio stations’ in order to lessen the impact of this situation.