Getting Telefundraising in Gear
Getting Telefundraising in Gear
Jan. 17, 2006
By Abny Santicola, associate editor, FundRaising Success
of the principles and best practices that make direct-mail campaigns and personal solicitations successful also apply to telefundraising, says Kathleen E. Pavelka, founder and president of Telecomp, a Rochester, N.Y.-based provider of telephone outreach programs for nonprofit institutions and organizations.
For one, Pavelka says, there's a lot of mulling over what goes on when it comes to what copy should appear in a direct-mail letter. "In fact, in many institutions, there's multiple layers of approval for what actually is going to go out in that letter. A telephone call really needs equal attention. The composition of the call and how it's executed is key to its success," she notes.
To this end, Pavelka recommends that nonprofits use scripts for telefundraising calls. "Not only the call itself, but possible questions and objections that prospects or donors might have," she adds. This takes the burden off callers to have to come up with answers to queries on their own and allows them to dedicate their energy to listening to the prospect.
And, Pavelka says a common mistake nonprofits and for-profits alike make when doing telephone solicitation is not letting the prospect talk. "They think, 'OK, well, I can avoid issues if I never let the prospect talk.' Well, you're not avoiding issues. They still have the issue. You're just not allowing them to voice their issue and then, therefore, you can't deal with it. So you want to create a call that's as interactive as possible," she says.
She advises that nonprofits treat telefundraising calls like major-gifts solicitations. "If I was going to solicit somebody at their home or in their office, it would be my objective to have them talk more than me. For some reason, we lose those concepts in telemarketing calls and telefundraising calls ... I would mirror the kind of conversation and rapport building that you seek to do when you do personal solicitations," Pavelka adds.
Another key to success is outreach. Though federal do-not-call legislation doesn't really affect nonprofits -- only requiring them to keep track of and respect prospects' and donors' wishes to not be solicited by phone -- there's a negative perception of telemarketing and telefundraising that has to be overcome and makes it even harder to reach potential donors. "It takes more energy, more times dialing that phone than it ever has before to reach the maximum percentage of your population," Pavelka says. Organizations have to respond to this challenge by doing the math and finding ways to reach the maximum percentage of their population, she adds.
"Figure out how many hours you need to reach your population, how many calls per hour you can make, etc., and then make sure that you are staffing properly, whether that be with paid students or volunteers," Pavelka says.
And like a personal solicitation or direct mail, make sure your telefundraising calls have a clear ask and ask level. Don't get nervous about being clear in your expectations of prospects, Pavelka says. "[Nonprofits] have a tendency to get kind of vague and not be clear on their expectations, and that doesn't end up serving anybody in the end. The clearer they can be in their expectations, I think the better for the institution," she adds.
Kathleen E. Pavelka can be reached via http://www.telecomp.org