You made it through the call (get a call script here), you made it through the ask (learn about the ask here), and the person on the other line has decided to donate! Congratulations! But the work isn’t done. Unless you received a payment over the phone, you still have to turn the commitment into an actual donation into your campaign account and, hopefully, found someone who is will to support you further in the future.
Turning a “Yes” into Funds for your Campaign
Now, let's suppose that everything goes well on the call and the person on the other end of the line agrees to contribute to the campaign. Fantastic! But now what?
A Process as Smooth as Silk
Once you have received a commitment to donate you need to make sure that the donation process is as quick and easy as possible. Every stop and start in the process is a chance for your donor to drop off and change their mind.
Today, donating is easier than ever thanks to the internet. Having a way to accept a donation while still on the phone via the internet or directly pointing someone to a website ensures that your donation is received quickly and pain-free. Donation services, such as Fund Hero, are available to help set up the back end so that your donors have an inviting way to contribute. Similarly, if the donor is comfortable, you can take a card and receive reporting information over the phone while still talking to the donor.
If a person says that they are willing to contribute, but can’t do it today, ask them politely but firmly if it is okay to send them an email, letter, and/or give them a follow-up phone call in the next few days if you have not received a contribution. Your written communications should point them to your online portal and provide a return address if they prefer to send a check; these communications should also include reasons why their donation is important and where their funds will go. Similarly, when you call back, remind the donor that they did make a commitment to donate and that their funds would be appreciated.
Follow up is key. People do just forget, and some people will say they intend to donate just to get you off the line, but by putting mild but firm pressure on people once they have committed most people will get to making that donation if the process is easy enough.
Planting Your Acorns
Many first time campaigners view a donation as a one-time transaction between the donor and the candidate, but nothing could be further from the truth. Once that donation comes in, you know that the donor supports you enough to give some of their hard-earned cash to you and, if they have done it once, they are more than likely willing to do it again.
Of course, this does not mean that you want to contact your newly found donor a week after they contribute to ask for another donation, but it does mean that you want to use certain blocks of time to ask for donations.
For example, if you had to run in a primary and received a donation during this period, you should contact your donor soon after the primary to ask for a second contribution by emphasizing the fact that you now have to look to November. Another great time to contact a donor is in mid to late September when you will inevitably need the funds for the final push in late October.
Again, good record keeping is key to allowing you to make these calls - and tools provided by Fund Hero can help you maximize your donor list for both the current and any future runs you may have.
Wrapping it Up
Call time doesn't have to be a big scary monster that you dread. Going in with a plan of attack, having solid backup responses, and being able to guide the conversation towards an ask for donations will make the process much smoother. Don’t overthink how each call will go and do make the process as simple as possible for your potential donors to become actual contributors.
Be strategic in who you call and when, and be sensitive and respectful of their time. Always ask for more than you think you will receive and be willing to negotiate down to something that is doable for each call. By telling potential donors how their funds will help your cause, you can increase your success by making the donor feel they are truly part of the campaign.
Once you do get a donation, don’t lose that information! It will be valuable for future asks during this (and future) campaign cycles.
Finally, and this is probably the most important point of all, it is okay to stumble and make mistakes - practice really does make perfect. Don’t let the worry of making a mistake prevent you from one of the most cost-effective ways to raise funds. After all, running for office is expensive, and if you can’t provide for basic things such as literature or water for your volunteers when they are knocking on doors, it will be harder for you to get your message out (and get voters on your side) come election day.
Step 4 - After the Call