Does Telephone Fundraising Make You Nervous? We Can Help!

We all know that thanking donors gets results, but how much of an impact does it have on your organization when you do it over the phone? 

One case study looked at two groups of donors: one who received thank-you calls and another who didn't. From the group that received calls, 5.4% of donors upgraded their donation, and the overall revenue front them was 42% higher. 

Speaking with your donors' works! It's incredibly effective because hearing a real person on the end of that line builds a connection that an email or social post can't create.
Listening to a person show their appreciation only enhances their donor glow, making them want to continue to do great work! 

It may be nerve-wracking to pick up the phone and call, but if you have a solid plan in place, it should be a breeze! 

What is Telephone Fundraising?

It is the best way to cut through the clutter and talk straight to your donors, literally! Telephone fundraising is when you call your donors, asking them to donate or contribute to a campaign. This is an excellent strategy because it is personal, direct, and great to stay in touch with donors. 

When used alongside your other digital channels, a telephone fundraising campaign can get donors engaged and help increase overall donations.  

Why is Telephone Fundraising Important? 

It is a terrific way to raise money! Telephone fundraising allows you to create a deep connection with donors and remind them of your charity's incredible work. 

Phone fundraising campaigns work well when raising money for a number of reasons. 
  1. They have higher response rates than email, and although they are not as personal as face-to-face fundraising, they come pretty close!
  2. People give money to people, and hearing a real voice on the other end of the line reminds them there are hard-working people behind the charities they love 
  3. Donors that receive phone calls are more likely to donate money again in the future!

How To Become a Successful Telefundraiser

Step 1: Write A Script 

We get it, cold-calling can be challenging, but a script can help take some of the pressure off your staff or volunteers. Having a calling script is an easy way to relieve some of the stress of cold calling and give a basis for your conversation. Even the most respectable telephone fundraisers can benefit by having a guide to help flow the conversation. 

That is the goal for your telephone fundraising script.  It has to come across naturally and have an organic flow to it. Connect with your donors a bit before making an ask. No one wants to answer the phone to a hard sell! Here are some tips on what to include: 
  • Begin with an introduction, say your name and organization, and perhaps ask about the donors' day! 
  • Then be forward about why you are calling and give a little bit of info around your cause.
  • Once you lay down the foundation, make an ask that sparks empathy. You can connect it to the listener or tell a story reflecting your work.
  • Then regardless of if they donate or not, you should end with a thank you, whether it be for their gift or their time.

Step 2: How Will You Make The Calls? 

You don't want staff and employees using their personal telephone numbers to use the office phone, or you can purchase a digital phone number for them to use. There are many VOIP options like Skype, Ring Central or Google Phone if you are located in the states! 

Find something that works for your team and budget for them to use when calling. 

Step 3: Make A List Of Everyone You Need To Contact

Your contact list will be the names of all the people you need to call. Your database will be a great place to start because you can easily create donor segments to target the best group of people in your telephone fundraising campaign! 
Some segments you can use are 
  • Active donors, volunteers, followers or members
  • Lapsed or inactive donors
  • Donors from a specific campaign or event attendees

Step 4: Have a Plan Of Action For Donations 

If a prospect does decide to donate, that's great! You now have to help them go through the process and direct them on where they need to go next.

You need to have a process in place for how your donors will receive information. You'll first need a payment gateway or a donation page to collect and process the donations. Secondly, you will have to find a way to facilitate the payment. 

For example, you could have a text-to-donate form available, so you have your donor message a shortcode for a link to your donation page. Or you can follow up using email after your call. Keep in mind it may get marked as spam, so politely remind your donor to check all of their folders just in case.  

The donation process should be short and sweet. You don't want to overcomplicate it! 

Tips For Successful Fundraisers 

Prioritize Who You Will Call

Telephone fundraising can be a labour-intensive task. If you have a long or complicated list, segmenting donors can be a huge help. It allows you to prioritize contacts and schedule calls based on urgency and relevance to the campaign. 

Make it a priority to contact donors who will likely engage with your campaign and respond with a donation. The more they engage and invest in your charity, the more likely they are to donate. Organize your list in this order: 

  1. Major donors (existing and past)
  2. Small and medium-size donors 
  3. Lapsed donors
  4. One-time donors starting with your most recent donations 
  5. Peer to peer fundraisers
  6. Social media advocates
  7. Cold leads from contact lists

Have A Multi-channel Approach

At Driven, we are huge fans of multi-channel fundraising. If you are just tackling your fundraising from one channel, it can mean missing out on getting through to your donors. People need to see a message a few times before they can digest it and a multi-channel approach is the best way to make that happen.  

Studies show that a multi-channel approach boosts donor retention and increases the overall amount a donor donates over a year. 

Calling is a popular channel of communication in the multi-channel approach that you can leverage alongside a direct mail, email or digital campaign! 

Prepare for the Worst

When telephone fundraising, you can receive three possible answers: a hard yes or no, and then something in between.

While we would love for every call, you make to be a yes, you have to prepare for rejection and plan how to navigate it. Think about possible answers and try to come up with solutions to discuss with your potential donor. 

If they can't afford it right now, maybe you have a volunteer opportunity that would interest them? If they ask to think about it, maybe you can offer to email them more resources on your work so they can get to know you better? 

Keep track of common questions and create a list of responses for your callers to use when fundraising. 

Always Try To Keep It Personal

People give to people. Even if your nonprofit uses a script, encourage callers to let their personalities shine through and be as friendly as possible. Use supporter's names throughout the call, as well as whatever information you already know about them, such as their past giving. So consult your database for crucial information that can help you in your call. 

Build rapport and ask questions. Imagine you're talking to your neighbour or your aunt or your friend's father. You don't want to come across as a bank, so don't feel pressure to keep things super formal. 

By picking up the phone and reaching out in a respectful, friendly manner, you'll find supporters who welcome your calls. You may find that many people just appreciate the fact that you took the time to pick up the phone and speak with them. 


Personal telephone fundraising is effective fundraising because it's personal! 

To build that personal connection, you have to find a way to relate to your donors, which begins within your database. Segmentation is the best way to get the right message to the right people and can help make a cold call less intimidating because it gives you a basis for your conversation. 

Donor Driven was built to help you get the most information from your data, creating stronger connections in less time. If you need help with your telephone campaign segments, we encourage you to reach out to us here

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By Trust Driven on

Fundraising Aug 6, 2021, 12:00 AM

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