6 Simple Tips to Improve Your Nonprofit’s Phone Fundraising

“Good Evening, May I Please Speak to Mr. Moneybags?”

Let’s be honest: sleek websites and social media campaigns are not only effective, they’re sexy. They’re the Kate Uptons of fundraising. In contrast, old-school phonathons seem like the not-so-stunning Danny DeVitos of your marketing and sales plan, right? Maybe, but for many NPOs, saddling up, getting down in the dirt and hitting the phones is still one of the most effective ways to get those donations.

We’re a trendy, sexy bunch here at Nonprofit Hub, so of course we talk a lot about the importance of websites and social media. We’re also wannabe hipsters, however, so today we’re going to walk you through how to improve your nonprofit’s phone fundraising because, well, we’re totally retro and not mainstream.

Double the Donation has given phonathons some thought as well and compiled 7 tips for running a successful phonathon campaign. We’ve added some tips of our own, so pay attention and you’ll be well on your way to phone fundraising success.

Don’t Ask for Money, Show How to Make a Difference

Don’t simply ask for money for your organization. Rather, explain up front how a donation will directly benefit your cause. Nobody wants phone calls from strangers after work asking for money, especially if they don’t have reason to or don’t feel good about it. NPOs are a dime a dozen, but causes are special, so sell your cause. The money will follow.

Know When to Call

Anyone who’s ever used a phone knows that timing is everything if you want to avoid a prolonged game of phone tag. Most people work from at least 9 to 5 and catching someone over the lunch hour can be iffy, so, no surprises here—calling after work is probably your best bet. Also, it’s less of an issue if you are only calling people locally, but if you’re calling people across time zones, schedule your calls in order so you can still catch West Coasters at home.

Make the Experience Standardized AND Authentic

Double the Donation recommends using a standardized script with some key components (introduction, statement of purpose, first ask, gift confirmation or answers to objections and non-pledge close). Making the experience standardized for your donors is good because you want your message to be both professional and consistent, however making your donor’s experience genuine is also important. More often than not, people will tune out callers who are overly scripted, “salesy” or unauthentic. Don’t over-polish. Call people as one real person with a cause to another.

Keep the Focus on the Donor

Below the surface, fundraising is not about what a donor can do for you, it’s about what you can do for a donor, namely making them feel good about making a difference. To accomplish this you need to gather as much information as you can. Ask them questions, and bounce their questions back with more questions of your own. Find out what makes this person tick and how giving to your cause could be a good decision for them.

Practice. If you have multiple callers, practice having mock conversations with donors. They’ll be sympathetic and can give you great, constructive feedback.

Don’t Neglect Your Troops’ Morale

Calling for even the most likeable causes can be draining. Anyone who’s ever called for a political campaign most likely still has nightmares. Keep your fundraisers motivated by setting daily, weekly and or monthly fundraising and calling goals. Include bonuses or prizes for a little extra incentive. These have been proven to boost success and makes the whole process less… not fun.

Stay Organized

If you do a lot of phonathons and need to get serious, invest in a phone management software. It makes the process smoother. If not, a least have an organized record system of donors and leads. Records not only keep tabs on past giving history, but can give you a system through which to record other useful information about donors.

For example, if you can find out what company your leads work for, you can see whether that company participates in a matching gifts program. Don’t let what you don’t know kill you by missing out on free funds—ask you donors.

It’s true, phone fundraising  isn’t as sexy as social media, and running a successful phonathon is hard work, but you get out of it only what you put in, so stick with it and we promise you won’t be sorry.

How do you keep your organization’s phone fundraising in tip-top shape?


Will Folsom

Will is everyone’s favorite intern on the Hub team. Tucked cozily in between his colleagues’ desks, you can find Will researching, writing, and drinking coffee from his John Wayne mug. Will brings his humor, youthful energy and a fresh perspective to the Nonprofit Hub team. He is passionate about history, marketing and bringing to light new ways in which nonprofits can succeed.

July 1, 2014

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