June 24, 2020 | Categories DonorPerfect Fundraising Software, Featured, Fundraising Strategies, Social Fundraising

5 Ways to Prepare for a Phone Fundraiser

Technology has brought us countless new and exciting ways to fundraise, but that doesn’t mean tried and true methods should be forgotten. Phone fundraisers may seem like a thing of the past, but studies have shown they can actually be quite effective. FiredUp Fundraising reports that phone solicitations can result in the following outcomes:

1. 25% of your donor base will increase their donation amounts.

2. 19% of lapsed donors will make a new donation.

3. 8% of event attendees will sign up for your monthly giving program.

4. Retention rates for new donors will increase by 30%.

These outcomes illustrate what a cost-effective solution phone fundraising can be. While picking up the phone to ask for money can seem uncomfortable and intimidating, these 5 helpful tips will make it easier than you can imagine.

Update Your Donor Information

Incomplete or out of date information can be very frustrating for your team of fundraisers and it will decrease successful outcomes if you are unable to connect with your constituents. So preparing for a phone fundraiser by cleaning up your data is an essential task. Here are a few tools to help you gather accurate information.

Look Your Donors Up Online

One simple solution: gather a quick report of all constituents without a phone number and look them up in the White Pages, online of course. DonorPerfect can make this an even simpler task. When you are in a constituent profile, click More Actions and select Yellow Pages to have the donor’s name and address information automatically entered into the lookup fields.

Sign Up for a Service

There are a number of services available to gather updated phone and address information for your constituents. Some services will even upload the new information into your database, taking any data entry work off of your plate. Consider signing up for a phone append service or using DonorSearch, an excellent tool that integrates with CRM software like DonorPerfect. You can select a subscription service to look up donor information individually, or you can select a screening service. A screening service performs a mass update on a selected number of records that you determine.

Gather Information From the Source

Reach out directly to your constituents. During in-person events, have a table set up to sign up for mailing lists and ask participants for their phone number. Ask for phone numbers on all remittance or solicitation slips you mail out.

Online forms are also an excellent tool for gathering constituent information. DonorPerfect’s Online Forms integrate seamlessly into the database and offer mail list templates for collecting address and phone number information. Create a form and then distribute it via email, social media, and on your organization’s website.

Set a Goal, Make a Plan

Next, establish a goal for your fundraiser and create a plan for how you hope to reach this goal. When creating a goal, make sure it is specific and attainable based off of past performance.

Here are some examples of goals you may want to consider:

  • Raise $50,000 from new and existing donors
  • Acquire 25 new donors for our Monthly Giving Program
  • Increase donation amounts by 15% from our recurring donors
  • Increase donor retention rate 10% over last year

All of these goals include specific numbers that are measurable. To find the right goals and numbers for your organization, make sure to look at past growth rates, donations, etc. Take a look at Mid-Year Review: Are You On Track to Meet to Your Goals? for more information on goal setting and reporting in DonorPerfect.

Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C

Once you have a concrete plan in mind, start coming up with a game plan for reaching this goal. For example, if your goal is to raise $50,000 from new and existing donors, determine how many constituents you need to reach out to during your phone-a-thon based on your average gift size. Part of your plan should also include crafting a list of selected donors to reach out to based on a number of factors:

  • How recent was their last gift
  • How often have they contributed
  • What was the size of their largest donation etc.

After you have a solid plan in place, then make a backup plan. After you’ve put in your best effort, if the constituent still says no to making a donation, provide them with some alternatives to stay engaged with your organization.

  • Ask if they are interested in volunteering for upcoming fundraising events.
  • Would they like to be added to your newsletter mailing list?
  • If they reconsider in the future, provide them with additional giving options (online, by phone or mail, etc)
  • Keep a list of in-kind donations you are in need of.

You already have the constituent on the phone and you’ve done the hard work by making the ask, don’t waste your time and effort by simply hanging up. So after you’ve come up with Plan A, then come up with Plan B and C too.

Segment Your Outreach Efforts

Most non-profits have a diverse constituent base and messages resonate differently with separate groups. This is why segmentation is vital to successful fundraising. After you’ve carefully selected an outreach list, separate constituents into groups based on how you want to specifically solicit them.

Examples of Groups:

  • Volunteers
  • Long-time donors
  • Monthly donors
  • Major donors
  • New prospects
  • Event attendees
  • Sponsors

You would speak to an individual in each one of these groups differently. The messaging for a long time donor may speak to your gratitude for their loyalty and dedication over the years while when speaking with a new prospect you may convey excitement about the work they can help you accomplish.

PRO TIP: Check out these tips to make segmentation part of your fundraising strategy.

Prepare a Script

No one wants to hear a script read to them over the phone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t outline specific talking points and write down key phrases to make you more comfortable. Knowing how you want to word the ask to your donor can build confidence during your phone conversation. When crafting your message there are a few tips to keep in mind.

Mind Your Manners

Politeness is key. Start your conversation by asking your donor if they have a few minutes to speak with you. Be realistic about how long the conversation will be, and then be respectful of their time. Make sure to introduce yourself and the nonprofit you are calling on behalf of. It can also be helpful to brainstorm what questions you would want answered if the roles were reversed and you were the donor.

Keep It Engaging

Just like a donor doesn’t want to be read to, they do not want to hear a speech from you either. Remember this is a conversation and they have something to contribute too. So ask your donor some questions. Consider the following questions to spur interesting talking points:

1. What motivated you to donate to us in the past?

2. What most concerns you about (need you are working to fulfill)?

3. If you make a gift, how would you like to see it put to use?

These questions serve multiple purposes. First, it engages your constituent and reminds them of the importance of your cause to them. Second, it provides you with more information about them! Take notes while you’re talking to your constituents so you know what aspects of your work is most valuable to them. DonorPerfect offers an easy tool to keep track of these types of communications using Contact Manager.

Get the Facts

Make sure your team of callers is prepared with important information about the donor they are calling and about the organization. Provide your callers with donor info sheets that outline the giving history of each donor they will be speaking with. DonorPerfect offers the Giving History with Complete Donor Profile report that provides the following key donor statistics:

  • First gift amount and date
  • Most recent gift amount and date
  • Largest gift amount
  • Grand total giving

This report also includes contact information and details on how the donor is involved with the organization. It’s a great fact sheet for your callers to have on hand.

Along with donor statistics, you also want to make sure your callers are well versed in your organization’s history, mission, and current projects. Consider providing them with financial details that will be pertinent to your donors such as the percentage of donations that are allocated directly to your mission.

Silence is Golden

Remind your callers that the script is there to guide them during their call but that silence during the call can be just as valuable as sharing the facts in their script. When you or your callers remain silent, the donor will often fill the silence and reveal even more details behind what motivates them to give. Work with your team and practice, not only going through the script but also, getting comfortable with those few vital seconds of silence.

Be Specific, Ask for an Amount

Do the work for your donor. Look at their giving history, including their average gift amount, and ask them for a specific amount. You can tell them what your overall campaign goal is and what this amount will help you to accomplish in your work.

PRO TIP: We tell you exactly what to say to donors during a phone fundraiser in this sample phone script to boost monthly giving. Check it out for ideas you can use in your phone fundraiser.

Recruit and Train Your Team

Once you know what your goal is and how many donors you plan to reach out to, you’ll need a team of volunteers to make the calls. You don’t want to exhaust your volunteers by having them make call after call. If you know that you plan on soliciting 100 donors by phone try to recruit a team of approximately 10 volunteers. Consider recruiting staff members, volunteers, board members, and even existing donors. After you’ve gathered your team, walk them through the following:

1. Tell them what your goal is and what your plan is for reaching that goal.

2. Review the script with them, and help them to personalize it. Help them to include details about how they are involved with your organization and why.

3. Practice Practice Practice. Host an evening together where your callers take turns playing the role of the donor and the volunteer making the ask.

PRO TIP: Organize volunteers with this volunteer sign-up form.

Phone fundraisers can help your organization see a significant return on investment, and they are a great way to stay connected with your constituents. Have you had a recent phone fundraiser, or are you planning one in the near future? Share you tips and insights in the comments below.

Christy S
Meet the author: Christy Smaglio

Christy attended Kutztown University, receiving a degree in English Literature. During her final year of school, she interned for a non-profit domestic violence agency writing grants, thank-you letters, and aiding in their fundraising events. She continued her non-profit work for another four...

Learn more about Christy Smaglio
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