We have talked about where to get started on your fundraising journey, and have provided you with some tips and tricks for the most successful (but time-intensive) form of fundraising, in-person meetings - but in-person meetings are not practical or effective in most situations. In this post we will be talking about the most common (but still personal) forms of fundraising: Call time and Fundraising Committees.
Picking up the phone and calling potential donors is the most frequently used fundraising technique because of its efficacy, affordability, and the high dollar amounts it can bring in. Call time also requires the most discipline because it is very easy to skip call time one night because of this event or that...and then one night turns into two...and then two nights turn into a week...and then a week turns into a month.
Much like face-to-face fundraising, phone calls provide a personal touch that donors appreciate and is generally reserved for moderate to high potential donors. Unlike face-to-face fundraising, you won’t be spending weeks cultivating a relationship before finally making an ask, rather the entire transaction from start to finish will generally take no more than 5-10 minutes.
One of the biggest things you can do to make your fundraising time over the phone successful is to write a script or set of talking points that splits off in different directions based on how the call may go. Much like face-to-face fundraising, you don’t want to come out and simply ask for money. Take the time to make the call about the donor and remind them that they are helping a cause, not just giving money.
This script should be written in your own voice so that it feels authentic, natural, and passionate. Ultimately, you will want your conversations to become second nature, making the script unnecessary when you pick up the phone.
After you feel comfortable with the script, find a friend or two you know can give constructive criticism and take the time to make a few practice calls with them. For added authenticity, have the friend go into another room and actually call them. This tactic requires you to only rely on vocal clues rather than allowing you to react to facial expressions. Your friend’s emotions should run the gamut of strong supporters to hating your guts from the moment they pick up and when practicing your friend should pick at random what emotion they will use so that you don’t know what to expect.
Here are some general scenarios to practice:
- Supports you, wants to donate, can donate today
- Supports you, wants to donate, can’t donate today
- Supports you, does not want to /unable to donate
- Neutral towards you, wants to hear more about you
- Neutral towards you, does not want to hear more about you
- Does not support you, polite person
- Does not support you, rude person
- Voicemail message
Remember that your scripts and calls are living things that can and should be adapted over time.
When calling friends and family, consider also creating a “text message” script that you can send if the person on the other end doesn’t pick up. Similarly, prepare a script you can send if the person on the other end doesn’t pick up but does send a text message back to touch base. The message needs to be short and directly point people to your donation page so that they have no excuse to say that they didn’t see it.
When making phone calls to donors, record-keeping is vital. Successful fundraising over the phone requires you you to make many calls, and it can become very easy to forget who you called and when, what they said (or even if they picked up), how much they pledged, if a donation actually came in, and any personal information that might be useful if you decide to give them a call back.
To make your fundraising call program the most effective it can be, you are going to want to invest in a robust Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. Though pen and paper can work, adaptable and scalable software, like the tools provided by FundHero, are far more efficient and effective to use.