Have you considered a telefunding program?
A while back, a reader asked me to write about telefunding. As a development director, I oversaw telephone fundraising departments, but I’ve never been a caller myself. So I turned to an old friend and nonprofit telephone expert.
Joe Frederick started out as “Caller Joe” with the Hartford Symphony, The Bushnell, and Hartford Stage, where he moved into management. Under his management, the theater’s year-round call center routinely delivered better than a 200% return on investment.
After 16 years with Hartford Stage, Joe retired as Director of Sales. Over the years, he has also acted as a consultant to many nonprofits across Connecticut.
As a development director, I depended on Joe and his staff for a sizeable percentage of our contributed income. But what delighted me most was the feedback from our donors – many of whom would not respond to other appeals because they were waiting for their annual call. They didn’t want to miss their conversation with their favorite caller each year!
Joe agreed to share why he’s so keen on the phone to cement relationships. And why he thinks the phone can help you raise a lot more money! Read on for his wisdom.
- To say “Hello” and “Thank you” to that portion of your supporters who never hear from you.
- To collect incidental information during the course of these conversations that helps solidify the bond between your donors and your organization. When you talk to your donors, you stay informed about their lives.
- For the revenue stream that will occur once you start asking for it, personally.
Hello and thank you
How many times has your organization tried to contact each of your supporters personally? Of course emails went out to everyone, letters were sent, updates, texts, and tweets all posted, but was it personal?
In this digital age, we have myriad communication options. It can overwhelm us all – including your donors. In the face of so many demands, how can your nonprofit’s message be effective with limited staff and budgeting?
The answer is simple, although it’s not often easy to execute. Call them up and say “Hello.” Ask them, one to one, what they think. Tell them you appreciate their support and THANK THEM FOR IT!
An interesting side effect of the social media revolution is the resurgence of the phone call as a means for “the more important communications” in our lives. The sound of another person grabs our attention better than email or social media.
A conversation means more to the average person. That’s especially true if the people involved make a personal connection. And even better if it’s the first time someone has spoken with them. It’s a powerful tool that’s often overlooked because we don’t know how to implement such a strategy.
Personal connections grow strong bonds
Person to person information solidifies the bonds between people. When you know them and they know you, trust evolves.
You know you need a system to collect information about your donors. When you do that well, you build stronger connections each time you communicate with them. That’s because you took the time to listen and remember what they said.
When you ask someone something specifically personal to their lives they’ll know you’re focused on them and they’re not just being given a line.
Raise more money
Telefunding can be quite lucrative if it is done in a professional manner that speaks well of you and your supporters. “Ask and you shall receive” is not just a sermon, it’s practical advice on getting what you need.
An additional revenue stream is something most nonprofits would find beneficial.
First, be sure you’re doing a good job with communication and information gathering. With that in place, telefunding can produce significant yields along many lines.
But it’s not just about the money
A word of caution here: If all you’re after is the money, and telefunding is not part of an overall development strategy, you are doomed to failure. You might get some returns, but the human expense to your reputation will suffer. And you run the risk alienating the people you will need down the road.
Telefunding can be a powerful addition to a solid fundraising program. Using the phone can help you gather important information about your donors and prospective donors. Used correctly, you will build stronger relationships with the people who are called. And you’ll raise more money.
But remember telefunding will not be successful unless it’s part of an overall strategy that focuses on your donors. As with all fundraising, put relationships first and the money will follow.
Joe Frederick owns and operates Ringers LLC, offering consulting and full-service telephone solicitation services to area non-profits. Thinking about adding or improving a telephone fundraising program? You can write him at JFrederick@RingersLLC.com. Or call him at 860-966-4050!
Photo thanks to Ryan McGuire