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."
Telefundraising can still be a big boon for fundraisers. However, there are some do's and don'ts Kirchoff shared during the webinar.
- Use telemarketing strategically, integrating it into your overall multichannel donor-acquisition and communications channels.
- Call warm prospects to potentially convert to donors, such as online activists, petition signers, volunteers, etc.
- Use telemarketing to reinstated deeply lapsed donors and to recruit new monthly donors, putting a little spin on donor acquisition.
- Make it part of your housefile efforts as well. "The more folks you have on this channel the more likely you're going to have a feeder track for things like your monthly giving program," Kirchoff said.
- Call the phone book. Cold calling rarely works in this day and age.
- Assume all prospects are the same … or that telemarketing works the same for every organization. You have to segment and target donors based on testing.
- Forget to analyze telemarketing results and look at both initial ROI and lifetime value.
- Assume that all telemarketing partners have the same strengths. Some are great at renewals, others at sustainers, etc. "Talk to colleagues, and understand who is the right partner for you to work with," Kirchoff said.
To learn more about telemarketing and multichannel donor acquisition, including Infogroup Nonprofit Solutions Senior VP for Strategic Development Larry May's direct-mail acquisition presentation, register for the free on-demand webinar here.