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telemarketing phone

The fundraising landscape has changed greatly in the past few years. Earning (and keeping) donors’ attention has become increasingly challenging, and more donors have shifted their focus from mission to impact. These changes have forced leaders to evaluate and question what works when it comes to engaging donors.

Dan Pallotta’s recent post for Harvard Business Review, The Economics of Charity Telemarketing, touches on these issues and how evolving donor perceptions are impacting fundraising practices. In the article, Pallotta (a highly regarded fundraising consultant and author) argues fundraising telemarketing has gotten bad rap. He writes:

“You may not like telemarketing, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense over the long term.”

Perhaps even more interesting than Pallotta’s thoughts on the matter are the mix of comments it received from readers. Some defended his ideas, while others lambasted his logic. In my opinion, the most sensible comment came from Alvin Tsui:

“Telemarketing can be worth it, but only if organizations know how to use it effectively.”

Ultimately, that’s what it comes down to: It’s not the channel of communication that is good or bad; it’s the way it is deployed.

Six Tips to Increase The Effectiveness of Your Fundraising Telemarketing

If you believe telemarketing can still work for your organization, here are a few ways to implement it effectively…

  1. Be authentic – Train representatives so they know what they’re talking about and are a reflection of your brand. Invest them with the knowledge and passion to relay your mission, not just read a script.
  2. Make it a conversation – No one wants to sit through an endless monologue. If you’re going to use a communication channel designed for two-way conversation then have a two-way conversation.
  3. Have a specific goal in mind – Create a strategy for your efforts. Who are you trying to reach and why (reactivating lapsed donors, thanking and upgrading recurring donors, etc.)? Don’t just call for money.
  4. Respect people’s wishes – If someone tells you they don’t want a phone call, then don’t call them. End of story. Listen to your donors and cater your communications to their wants and needs.
  5. Give people a reason to give – Provide a purpose for your call that will spark people to give. Use a challenge or matching grant to encourage people to respond positively to your ask.
  6. Test it out – Before you officially launch your calling campaign, test it out on a reasonable sample. Make sure people are overwhelmingly positive about the call before you go full steam ahead.
Evolve Your Fundraising Efforts to Create More Meaningful Experiences

As the fundraising landscape continues to evolve, and donor perceptions continue to shift, nonprofits must continue to look for better ways of forging relationships. Whether it’s a phone call or other fundraising effort, create interactions that are meaningful to the donor and advance your mission forward in a smart, strategic and financially viable way.

The fundraising world has changed significantly in the past five years. How will it continue to change?