For some reason, many fundraisers hesitate when it comes to phones. Maybe they feel it’s too invasive — or they’re simply concerned about how donors will react. In reality, however, unlike other channels, the phone can create a robust and meaningful experience for donors.
Here are 7 reasons you might want to add phone to your donor communication mix (and 2 bonus reasons for the COVID-19 world we currently live in):
Create a two-way conversation. In most media, conversations are one-sided. You send your donor a case for support and hope that it resonates with them enough to send a gift. On the phone, however, you’re able to create a dialogue with your donor, not only presenting your case for support, but also listening to your donor’s feedback.
Learn donor preferences. During a phone conversation, being a good listener is just as important as getting a gift. You’ll learn important details about your donors that may help frame your future plans and experiences. Of course, one of those details may be that they don’t like to be called. If so, great! Mark them as “Do Not Call” to honor their request. However, in many cases it will be something else — like a program they love, the reason they started supporting you, or the time of year they prefer to donate.
Read the room. Because this is a two-way conversation, your call representatives can read the conversation to determine where to go next. Creating a loose script with talking points and options allows you to veer in any direction based on a donor’s responses. Perhaps you were planning to ask for a monthly gift, but the donor indicates early on in the conversation that monthly giving is not their preference. No problem, just change the final ask to a one-time donation.
Real-time relevance. Among all marketing channels, phones are the most flexible, right up to the moment when the phone begins to ring. You can adjust your script mid-call to ensure your talking points are as relevant as possible. In a year where changes occur minute by minute, this on-the-spot relevance has been especially valuable.
Ability to pivot. Unlike other channels like direct mail and email where results can only be analyzed after deployment, phones allow you to monitor results and feedback in real time. This up-to-the-minute information flow gives you everything you need to make mid-campaign adjustments. Is your script not resonating? Change it. Did you receive an exciting matching gift? Add it.
Quick to deploy. An urgent message (especially one tying into current media headlines) is generally well-received when delivered by phone. Anything creating an expanded need for your services — like a pandemic, for instance — provides a strong rationale for a quick phone call asking for emergency help. Similarly, if you have news to share quickly (a new program you’ve deployed, a new need you have, a response plan to something urgent), the phone is often the quickest way to get your message out.
Boost all channels. Phones are a great way to remind donors of the other communications they have been receiving from your organization. Even if you’re not asking for money on the phone call, the phone call could have a positive impact on their decision to give to your next direct mail appeal. In fact, thank-you call campaigns with no ask at all have proven an effective strategy for lifting retention and improving annual donor value in other channels, especially in new donor and/or high value donor audiences.
If those reasons aren’t enough to get those phones up and running, here are two bonus reasons why calling during the pandemic has worked so well.
People are home.
People are craving personal interaction.
ICYMI: Kurt Worrell, SVP of the TrueSense Donor Engagement Team, unpacked all the reasons why your COVID-19 fundraising strategy needs to include phone in an earlier Heroic Fundraising post. The telephone can be a quick channel to carry messages to your donors in a rapidly changing environment.