I scored 120 on the Humanitarian IQ test. Harder than you might think. A few lessons. Also a recruiter for NEED magazine.
Archive for May, 2009
About a decade ago, I was working pro bono with a local charity. The board (like so many) wasn’t really comfortable with anything that smacked of direct marketing. “Junk mail” is evil, and their annual donor appeal didn’t count. Of course they’d never even consider anything as coarse as telemarketing!
Then they were approached with a matching grant from a local individual. With a very tight time-frame… matching every dollar up to (I can’t recall, but something of the scale of) $5,000 donated by a date only a few weeks away.
Their fundraising manager was unafraid of marketing strategies. But they didn’t have to time get a mailing out. (Nor did they know how to frame this to their donors, another matter entirely.)
So they got on the phones. They, themselves, the half dozen or so members of the board.
And they raised the matching fund amount in an evening or two.
A gratifying experience. A concrete lesson in personal appeals. Not enough to warm them up to “junk mail” or telemarketing. But evidence enough that they softened the strict limits they’d had on fundraising.
They went to four mailings a year. They did acquisition mail for the first time, and actually acquired donors with a net gain in revenue. (Largely because the generosity of a local printer/mailshop minimized their costs.) And they were off and running until that fundraising manager moved on and the next one saw some opportunities to save money. I don’t know where they are now in their programs.
All of which is a roundabout way to point out the high potential of the telephone in small fundraising programs.
I highly recommend Mal Warwick’s new book — Fundraising When Money Is Tight. His tips, as usual, are timeless, not limited to our current fiscal doldrums. And one chapter covers the many potential uses of telemarketing. Many of these have been touched upon in happydonors.com, but consider further:
– Call all new donors just to thank them. No ask. This will greatly increase the likelihood of a second gift.
– Call all donors around Christmas time to thank them for their continuing support. Again, no ask. A seniors organization I work with did this once as a test, and the called group gave significantly more over the subsequent year. They used a high-touch telemarketing firm the first time around. After that, they used volunteers. Elderly ladies calling a donor file consisting overwhelmingly of elderly ladies. Wonderful!
– Call lapsed donors. Many groups now do this routinely, for lapses or even as a late renewal effort.
– Use the phone to convert occasional donors to monthly giving. This is the most effective approach. And I’m seeing it so often I assume it’s proven to be the most cost-efficient, too.