I was in Nebraska this week, with one of my favorite all time clients, and where the Marketing department is working hard to secure subscription renewals for next season. All day long, on the phone, one relationship at a time, one renewal at a time. Answering questions, upselling packages, gently encouraging the sale. It is a beautiful thing.
I guess that no one told these folks that subscription campaigns are dying, because this organization is in midst of a multi-year sustained audience growth trend. One relationship at a time.
What is the secret to this success? The Lowly Telephone. The most efficient method of communicating that has ever existed, in the history of everything.
What is the one thing that you can personally do to make your fundraising results stronger? You can pick up the phone. One hour a day. In four 15 minute segments.
Is this easy? No. There are many distractions to our work day. Will it get easier with practice? Yes. Will other priorities and distractions fade away? Yes.
Friends, spend one hour a day on the phone and your fundraising will improve, regardless of budget size or staff resources. If it doesn’t work, I will buy you lunch.
What do you do in that daily hour?
- Schedule a Personal Visit. 15 minutes. Your goal is to schedule one personal visit every single day. Thank you coffees. $5,000 lunches. Meetings with board members to follow up on prospects. Tours of the new tree house exhibit. You get the idea. Schedule one visit, on the phone, every single day and success is yours. Can you schedule one personal visit per day? You can.
- Say Thank You. 15 minutes. What if your fundraising program thanked every single donor for every gift by phone? That would make you singular in your stewardship. I made about 20 charitable gifts last year, and I got a single thank you call (great job Hoosier Environmental Council). Can you make 10 thank you calls a day? You can.
- Engage your Volunteers. 15 minutes. The Development Committee of any organization has a difficult task. If we are lucky, volunteers prioritize our work after their families, own jobs, friends, religious commitments, and so on. So helping to raise cash as a volunteer is hard, and we need to coach, encourage and inspire our volunteers at every opportunity. Can you call one volunteer a day? You can.
- Ask for Money. 15 minutes. As a follow up to your direct mail solicitations of increasing desperation, how about a simple phone call as a follow up? Do you know why a phone call is effective as a solicitation tool? It invites a conversation, back and forth, to learn from one another, to overcome objections, to subtly influence. Can you spend 15 minutes per day asking for money? You can.
I am fortunate in my professional life to work with many young professionals in the first third of their careers, which I find energizing and inspiring. Millennials are tremendous fundraisers, deeply committed to our work and in acquiring new skills. But they don’t like to pick up the phone. And I get this, for people don’t talk on the phone these days. But you, my young friend, can. You will get better at it. With practice.
When should you make your one hour of calls? I don’t care. The time of day does not matter. I like to make calls for 30 minutes in the morning, and 30 minutes in the early afternoon. Schedule the time on your calendar and close the office door (if you have one). Do the four things, and then get on with your day.
Will you try this for a month? Take one hour a day, and pick up the phone.
Improve your fundraising. Change the world. One hour a day!
You shared this advice with me a few years ago and it has drastically helped my fundraising. Our team has a goal to call and thank every donor. We started last year and we’ve seen many increases in giving. I’m going to challenge myself and the new gift officer to try one hour each day. Friday afternoons are my personal favorite for thank you calls. Who doesn’t like to end the week on a grateful tone?
Thanks Katie: I agree about Friday afternoons. What better use of time to end the week than thank you calls? Congrats on your ongoing success!
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