Pick Up The Phone.
There. Now you know. The Grand Secret to Fundraising success. Four words. Go and thrive my friends.
But many of you won’t do it.
I make a good living working with non-profits of all sizes and this is a consistent truth all over the United States. Fundraisers have a general aversion to speaking on the telephone, and it is getting worse as email, texting, and social media dominate our discourse.
As an exercise I reviewed my personal philanthropy over the last two years and find that I have supported 20 or so organizations, at various levels but generally in the $100 range but a few higher up including a $5,000 pledge to an organization where I’ve been a board member.
$100 isn’t game changing but it is a solid gift, particularly for community focused arts organizations and non-profits. And yet in that time I have only been called once as a thank you, just this week in fact, from a terrific gift officer at my alma mater Indiana University.
One thank you call in two years and 20 organizations in the mix. Guess who has my loyalty now?
Is it easy to pick up the telephone and call friends and strangers and ask for money? No it is not. Whenever I hire an entry level fundraiser anyone with telefund or cold call sales experience on the resume jumps to the top of the stack. Why? Talking on the phone is a skill that many of us have yet to master.
So Friends, let us practice over the coming year. Join the philanthropic phone revolution by:
- Calling EVERY donor to say Thank You. Set aside a couple of hours each Friday for this purpose. You will be amazed and what you learn and the major gift potential uncovered by the simple thank you call. Your donors will remember, and when you call next year to talk about a renewal, they will listen to you. Make this one commitment to your fundraising program and I promise results. I PROMISE. Do this one thing and you will raise more money in 2015.
- Call EXISTING DONORS when it is time to renew, at every level. This is easier than you think – let’s assume you have a snappy direct mail piece going out to encourage year end renewals. How about a phone night (or three) to all the potential donors to follow up on the written solicitation? Want to see your acquisitions and credit card gifts skyrocket? Use some 20th century technology. Mullet guy knows this. Why don’t you?
- Call BOARD MEMBERS and FUNDRAISING VOLUNTEERS to follow up on next steps on assigned prospects. You have sent two emails already and they have ignored you because they haven’t taken action. Call them to follow up. Patient persistence pays off in the end.
- Call your MAJOR DONORS and wish them Happy Holidays, or New Year, or for their Birthday. Call them. We are in the relationship business. Relationships don’t advance by email.
- Call Colleagues, Vendors and Consultants. You spend too much time writing emails. A quick Call practices your skills and can save time and the misunderstandings of back and forth emails.
How well does phone solicitation work? Well, large non-profits pay telemarketing firms to call total strangers and solicit gifts on their behalf all the time. And you know what? It works. Brilliantly.
It is perhaps counterintuitive but as Americans are now able to remove themselves from phone solicitation, the ones who don’t mind will gladly accept the call. Imagine how much better the result if you as a committed fundraiser made the call instead?
I challenge my Friends and Colleagues to devote themselves to One Hour Daily in 2015 to being on the phone. Let’s do this America.
Pick up the Phone. Today.