To Call or Not to Call? The Do's and Don'ts of Telemarketing Fundraising
Telemarketing often gets a bad rap from the general public. Visions of fundraisers or businesses cold-calling and interrupting dinner run through people's heads. The potentially annoying nature of telemarketing was even immortalized in an episode of "Seinfeld."
"I think many people think [telemarketing] is the ugly, redheaded stepchild of fundraising and acquisition," said Karin Kirchoff, vice president of direct-marketing agency MINDset Direct, during the recent FundRaising Success webinar, "Come One, Come All! — Smart Strategies for Multichannel Donor Acquisition."
However, once upon time telemarketing was a popular channel, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s. Kirchoff said it fell out favor, particularly for acquisition, for a number of reasons:
- There are very few lists available for telemarketing acquisition.
- New telemarketing regulations over the past 15 years have limited the ability to contact people through the phone.
- Things like caller ID have made it more difficult to contact prospects.
As a result, telemarketing has become a less effective channel in acquisition, at least cold-call acquisition.
"Warm prospects, however, tend to show a fair amount promise," Kirchoff said.
"Warm prospects" include constituents such as online activists, petition signers, event attendees and volunteers. If you have the phone number for people already engaged with your organization but not necessarily as donors, they make great telemarketing acquisition prospects.
In addition, "smart marketers know that telemarketing is still an incredibly valuable channel for housefile strategies, including acquisition, reactivation, sustainer recruitment, renewals, special appeals, emergency appeals, etc.," Kirchoff said. "The key to making it work is segmentation."
Another key is integrating telemarketing into your multichannel donor communications approach.
"Telemarketing for a long time was considered a stand-alone channel, but it really doesn't stand along anymore. Strategically integrated into a direct-response program, it will absolutely drive longer-term value, improve retention and, interestingly, give you that one-to-one feedback," Kirchoff said. "That's a lot harder to get with direct mail. Telemarketing is a great two-communication channel, which can often be overlooked."