Andrew: As you know, telephone fund-raising is a technique that over the past three or so decades has grown tremendously in popularity, as it works relatively well with a constituency of an organization. Just about any non-profit organization can and should conduct telephone fund-raising programs themselves as much as possible, with volunteers doing the telephoning.
However, because of the sheer number of organizations engaging in telephone solicitations, a noticeable resistance, even a hostility, to “sales” phone calls has sprung up among callees who see callers an uninvited invaders of home or place of work. Combine that with the fact that solicitor and prospect are not making eye contact, and it becomes far easier for a prospect to say no. All a prospect needs to do is hang up the phone, with or without the usual courtesies, as anyone who has ever used the phone to ask for donations or sell something knows. That's what resulted in the "Do not call" prohibition for commercial businesses. Charities are exempt according to the law, but the resentment toward those commercial calls has spilled over to calls made for philanthropic purposes.
The logistics of phone solicitations can be daunting. A hardworking solicitor can complete about 10 full solicitations per hour. (that’s working around the usual multitude of unanswered calls and voice mails, etc.) The window of time available to make calls to a person’s home is only about two and a half hours in the evening, roughly from 6:00 until 8:30 p.m. If an organization has 10 available phone lines, 2,000 phone solicitations will take a minimum of eight evenings under optimal conditions.
Phone solicitations have some advantages. Volunteers who feel uncomfortable asking someone for money face-to-face often turn into real pros on the phone. Protected from embarrassment by the anonymity of the telephone and able to have “crib” notes in front of them, they feel more relaxed and thus find it easier to ask for money. Also, phone solicitation can be fairly inexpensive. Especially if an organization gets a company to donate the use of its officers and phones in the evening hours as headquarters for its volunteer callers.
However, relative to your “cold” calling plan, unless the callers are representing an organization about which the prospect cares, they are unlikely to meet with a very warm reception. I would use telephone fund-raising only with a constituency of an organization or with persons who know or are able to identify the person making the call, but not so much as an approach to those unlikely to have knowledge of either the organization or the solicitor and to expect favorable results. But, your Media blitz could make the difference.
Remember that telephone fund-raising programs are comprised of callers making fleeting, usually one-time contacts with prospects. This will surely result in the loss of potentially significant contributions which could develop for the future benefit of the organization. Only volunteers are able to develop personal relationships with prospective donors over time, especially with face-to-face meetings.
Professional Telefunders: If you pay people to make the calls:
(1) The organization’s leadership is responsible to see to it the program is cost-effective, especially to guard against when the percentage paid for money raised is out of reason---50% or more.
(2) The outside callers must represent the organization in the best possible manner. The reputation and credibility of the organization are at stake here. Guard against when the callers engage in less-than-honorable tactics to induce the giving of money; the issue of ethics is certainly at home here, not to mention possible irreparable damage to donor relations.
As well, when using paid callers, I believe a telephone fund-raising firm would be working against your best interests if they refused to recognize the long-term financial health of the organization by insisting they make calls to prospects who could be prime candidates for cultivation and stewardship programs which they know the organization’s leadership should conduct.
You are always better off to contact other organizations ---similar to yours---whose experiences can provide samples of everything you need: advance mailing piece to prospects alerting them to the upcoming calls; worksheets of prospects’ profiles for callers to use including the amount of money to be requested; recruitment of volunteers; calling schedule; script; pledge forms; fun incentives for the callers; refreshments; follow-up procedures such as billing, etc.
Here are the key elements comprising a successful telefunding campaign:
--- advance mailing piece to prospects alerting them to the upcoming calls, when the calls are coming, and most important, with a suggested asking amount included so they know what is to be coming later from the caller. Do not enclose a gift return envelope. You want to them to be conditioned to respond when the phone call comes. This advance “proposal” to give a set amount is especially bolstering to the volunteer following up with what is not then not as much a “cold” call
--- worksheets of prospects’ full information profiles for callers to use; name, address, phone number, and organization relationships---and especially including the amount of money to be requested
--- recruitment of volunteers enough to handle the volume.
---Script for the callers:
“Hello, I’m _____, and I calling to ____” Informal script which asks for specific amount suggested based on your simple and easy-to-say “case” for support, and always with the declaration that, “whatever you choose to give will be greatly appreciated.”
--- pledge forms, with schedule of payment
--- “perks” for the donors’ contributions; inexpensive and cost-effective things you can provide at the various asking levels. See my website article on this type of
“The Name Is The Game: Memberships And Named Gift Opportunities”
--- fun incentives for the callers
--- follow-up procedures such as billing, etc.
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