Charity Telemarketing – Killer or Winner?
A friend of mine once told me her way of dodging telemarketing calls was to say that she was the babysitter and the lady of the household was out. Would they like to leave a message? No one ever did, they just cheerfully said they’d try another time.
My friend isn’t alone. Many people find telemarketing calls a nuisance and go to great lengths to avoid them. So why would a charity even consider telemarking as a solicitation technique?
In the most recent Giving Trends study commissioned by O’Keefe & Partners, telemarketing ranked low on the list of programs likely to be included in a portfolio of fundraising programs in 2014. However, out in the field, we have seen several not-for-profits and educational institutions implement successful telemarketing campaigns.
If approached correctly, telemarketing can be an extremely effective way to grow support for your cause. Speaking with donors and prospects on the phone allows you to more effectively engage your supporters by making personal connections and learning more about donor behaviour and motivations.
A perfect example of this is the story of a Victorian school who conducted a telemarketing campaign aimed at past students. One particular student (from 40 years ago) declined making a donation on the phone but requested a meeting with the principal. He ended up leaving his farm in a bequest to the school. Now, that’s a winner!
Here are our Five Golden Rules for a successful telemarketing campaign…
1. Update your database
Ensure your database is accurate and up-to-date. Make sure there are also relevant notes about each donor or person listed. Past donations, preferences, involvement etc. This will help the caller make conversation and ensure donors/volunteers are thanked for their past support.
2. Choose your callers carefully
The best people to call are your staff. They have the knowledge and passion to speak engagingly with supporters about your cause. When internal resources aren’t available, an Australian based telemarketing service is preferable. Be detailed in your brief and arm callers with as much information as possible. Warn them about any issues they are likely to encounter so they are not on the back-foot if challenged.
3. Have a compelling reason for the call
It is important that you have a compelling reason to call and that you can convey that reason succinctly within the first few seconds of the conversation. Telemarketing isn’t only for soliciting donations. In fact calling for a reason other than money can make recipients more receptive to your call and increase the likelihood of a donation at a later date. Phone to thank them for their past support, wish them Merry Christmas, invite them to an event, share important news or ask for their participation in a survey. If appropriate, a donation could be suggested at the end of the call as long as it doesn’t come across as an underhanded
4. Be sensitive and respectful
Always make sure you ask the person you are calling if it is a good time to talk and offer to call them back at a more convenient time. If they ask to be removed from your call list, you must respect their wishes. If you handle their objections appropriately and treat them with respect, a “no” will become and “not now” and you will leave the door open for future support.