How to Coach Tele-Fundraising Volunteers for Your Nonprofit
Telemarketing can be an excellent nonprofit board or volunteer group effort. If someone involved with your organization works in an office that has multiple telephone lines, see whether you can borrow the office for an evening. Early evening (6:00 to 8:30 p.m.) on weeknights is generally considered the best time to call, but — as you’ve probably noticed — telemarketers now frequently call during the day and on weekends as well.
Gather your volunteer team an hour before beginning. Feed them a good meal and give them a pep talk. Building camaraderie among the callers can relax anyone who’s nervous. Setting a group goal for the evening and mapping it on a big chart can build morale.
Inform the callers that they must deliver the message in a crisp, clear, and friendly voice. They shouldn’t rush, but they also shouldn’t leave holes in the conversation that the call recipient can close before the caller can ask for a contribution. They should ask for a specific contribution and confirm the amount. They also should tell the potential donors that they’re volunteers; this may make them more likely to pay attention.
Provide your callers with information about each household they’re calling, including a recommended gift request. You base your request on the potential donor’s past contributions to your organization and others. Sometimes you’re just guessing. That’s okay if your callers also are good listeners and deftly adjust the amount they’re requesting in response to what they hear.
If, after a gift is pledged, you feel that you asked for too little money, don’t despair. You can ask the donor to upgrade his gift next time.
If a pledge is made, the caller should thank the new donor and try to get her to either provide credit card information over the phone so the gift can be charged immediately or promise to return the contribution within a certain time. Ask the caller to confirm the spelling of the donor’s name and address before saying goodbye.
At the end of the evening, everyone present should write brief, personalized thank-you notes. For contacts who promised gifts but didn’t charge them over the phone, send the thank-you notes with pledge forms (indicating the specific amount of the promised contribution) and return envelopes.
Every telemarketing campaign suffers from a percentage of unrealized promises, and callers want to keep that percentage as low as possible. You may ask a small number of your volunteers to reconvene for a short follow-up calling session two months after the initial campaign to jar loose any contributions that haven’t yet been received.