[CHECKLIST] Phone Fundraising: Steps To Success For Nonprofits

ClaireJune 23, 2020

[CHECKLIST] Phone Fundraising: Steps To Success For Nonprofits header image

We’ve written about the importance of effective online fundraising strategies in the past. Online fundraising is especially important during times like these when we may not be able to meet with donors in person. But that’s not the only way to get your donor’s support or attention. If you’re looking for one more way to connect with donors, you should consider phone fundraising.

In this blog post, we’ve written about how you can go about fundraising over the phone and included a phone fundraising script and checklist for you so you’re prepared going into the conversation.

What is phone fundraising?

First, what is phone fundraising?

Phone fundraising or telephone fundraising is the act of raising money over the phone. This can include making a phone call to a potential donor, which is what we address in this post, or by asking for a donation via text-to-give software.

What do you need to know or do before you pick up the phone?

First, decide who you are going to call and why.

Are you hoping to connect with volunteers and see if they’ll take their engagement further and make a donation? Are you calling lapsed donors to try to get them to give again? Are you calling one-off donors to see if they’ll become recurring donors? Are you calling major donors to ask for a gift for a specific project that you’ve got planned?

The bottom line: You should know who you’re calling and what you’re going to ask for before you pick up the phone!

Who’s the best person to make the fundraising call?

Once you know who you’re calling and why, you need to decide who is going to be making these calls and have them prepare as much as possible. This includes having them practice different scenarios so they’re comfortable speaking with the potential donor. If you’re asking for a bigger gift, you may want to have the nonprofit CEO or founder or a board member call and make the ask.

You may run into various reasons that people are hesitant to give. Check out the Candid Blog to see various types of hesitations and how you can respond to those.

Finally, you’ll also want to decide if you’re going to leave a voicemail if the person doesn’t answer. The reality is that a lot of people keep their phones on Do Not Disturb or send numbers they don’t recognize directly to voicemail. If you are going to leave a voicemail, make sure you have prepared that message so you keep it short and sweet.

What should you say when you’re calling to ask for a donation?

We’ve all been on the receiving end of telemarketing calls where you can tell the person is reading from a script. You can’t afford to make the potential donor think that you don’t care about them as a person, which means you need this call to feel like a genuine conversation.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have a plan going into the call. In fact, we highly recommend that. At the bottom of this post, we’ve included a PDF of a checklist of all the information you should have on hand before you pick up the phone.

This isn’t a chance for you to say what you have to say and then hang up. Pay attention to your donor’s tone, what they find interesting, or what resonates with them, and ask them questions to further engage with them. Think of how you prefer to be spoken to and keep that in mind when making these calls.

Sample Fundraising Call Script

In short, we recommend doing the following:

  • Greet the person. Make sure you know who you’re talking to before you make your ask.
  • Share who you are and why you’re calling. It’s best to be honest at the beginning of the call so the person on the other end knows your intentions.
  • Ask if you can tell them more about your nonprofit and why you’re reaching out. You don’t want to keep someone on the phone if they’re not interested in making a donation. In fact, if you try to do that, they may hang up with a negative opinion of you and the nonprofit.
  • Give your short pitch. You should have your mission statement memorized, as well as a specific ask to make. But don’t rush this part! You want to make sure they understand who you are and what your organization is trying to accomplish.
  • Make your ask. The more timely and urgent you can make the ask, the better. Instead of asking for $50 for your organization’s general fund, for example, ask for a donation that translates into a specific impact. That could mean sharing how $25 gives one child a backpack and school supplies. Make sure that you mention your organization’s mission, the problem you’re trying to solve, and how the donation offers a solution.
  • Upgrade the ask. This isn’t something that you want to do on every call. However, if someone readily agrees to a number, they might be inclined to give more. Have some other donation amounts and impacts you can share to see if they’re interested in giving more.
  • Share how they can make their donation. Good news! They want to give to your nonprofit. Make sure you give them the exact steps to take in order to complete that donation.
  • Thank them. Even if the person wants to hang up as soon as they find out why you’re calling, you need to thank them for taking the time to pick up the phone and listen to what you have to say. If you’re hanging up without getting a donation, don’t sound discouraged. You don’t want to leave the person with a negative impression.

How else can you take advantage of the fact that people are always on their phones?

We’ll share more in a future post about another great option to raise money over the phone with text-to-give options.

In the meantime, just remember that if you’re going to use the phone to raise funds, you should also use it to thank your donors with a donation acknowledgment letter. Keep a list of donors who seemed pleasantly surprised to hear from you and make sure you follow up with them in the future and let them know about the impact their gift has made.

Free Fundraising Call Checklist

Download our free fundraising call checklist and pick up the phone feeling confident in your ask.

Download Checklist

Schedule a live demo with our team, and we’ll show you how easy it is to create and automate reports, utilize online and offline fundraising tools, quickly integrate and access all your data, and ultimately create more time to engage your donors.

Filed Under:   Fundraising