5-Minute Interview--Paul Leo
5-Minute Interview: Paul Leo
Jan. 17, 2006
By Abny Santicola, associate editor, FundRaising Success
Paul Leo, manager of new markets and acquisition for international humanitarian organization CARE, talks about his organization's telefundraising efforts, the strengths of telefundraising and the various stages of a telephone call soliciting donations.
FundRaising Success: How and when does your organization use the telephone to raise money for your cause?
Paul Leo: We use, for fundraising reasons, it in a lot of different places in a donor's life cycle. There are different points in the donor's relationship with CARE at which we call them ... Some of those key points are shortly after -- several months after -- they've given their first gift. If they haven't given a second gift, we'll call them and see where they're at. If they'd like to give a gift to CARE and then if we haven't heard from them in quite a long time, we'll call them as well, as kind of a reactivation tool. And then, outside of that, we usually do one or two general campaigns in which everyone will get [a call], regardless of where they're at in their life cycle.
FS: What are telefundraising's strengths?
PL: I think one nice thing about using the phone is there's a sense of urgency there because you're actually talking and communicating with somebody personally, and you can convey that sense of urgency and immediacy much more easily than you can through a printed piece. And the flexibility that using the phone offers you in regards to what you want to [focus your] message around ... If you're fundraising on the phone [and] you find that your offer isn't working, you can just change that on the spot. And the next day you can be able to use a different offer completely and see your results go up or down depending on what you've done.
FS: What are the stages of a telefundraising phone call?
PL: First there's the introduction, who's calling. There's the situation ... something in particular that we're talking about ... something specific and something urgent. And then there's the ask: "Can you help CARE with this situation and other situations like that?" And then thirdly, you usually don't get a yes on that very first ask. You usually get some kind of rebuttal ... some kind of hesitation or reason why a donor can't give. So then there's a rebuttal. There's myriad reasons why a person can't give and just as many reasons why that person should give based on that answer. So, it's at that point that you have a conversation, listening to the donor and where they're at.
FS: Aside from getting a donation, what's the most important thing to accomplish on a telefundraising phone call?
PL: Something that's really important, whether [they give a] gift or not, is to exit the phone call with a good feeling or a good rapport with the donor so that you haven't ruined the relationship but you've, in fact, solidified or enhanced the relationship based on the phone call. And hopefully the communicators -- the people that are calling our donors -- are skilled enough to handle a variety of different responses, but in the end hang up the phone with a positive outcome. And that doesn't necessarily mean a gift.
Paul Leo can be reached via http://www.care.org