Earlier this year Vera Peerdeman, writing for 101 fundraising, talked of a Dutch magazine article which highlighted fundraising as a desirable profession sitting alongside other inspirational roles like ‘fertility doctor’ and ‘geriatric medicine specialist’.
And why shouldn’t it be – what’s more important than saving the world, stopping children from dying, beating cancer – none of which is possible without the humble fundraiser.
But I wonder – would a glossy magazine ever hold a frontline fundraiser in such esteem, (you know – those great guys and girls who speak to real people in the street and on the phone and do the asking)? Would they have put that fundraiser on a pedestal and celebrate the difference they make to the world?
I fear not. And why would they? We hardly set a good example – don’t we struggle ourselves to champion our frontline fundraisers, to speak up for and defend our fundraising practices?
At Pell & Bales, we speak to 1000’s of wonderful supporters every day, supporters who laugh with us, cry with us, and thank us for updating and sharing with them – yet I have to say it can sometimes seem that our calls are perceived by some at the charities as a ‘dirty little secret’. But that’s nothing compared to the rough deal street fundraisers get – we let them stand in the cold day after day doing our fundraising for us and then insult them by calling them a “chugger” (aka charity mugger) as if it were a term of endearment?
I know some of you are with me on this – Debra Allcock Tyler writing for Third Sector Magazine recently highlighted the vital work street fundraisers do in tough conditions, and Lisa Clavering, of Breakthrough Breast Cancer has been outspoken about her disgust in the use of the word chugger”
But with an estimated 900,000 donors recruited through direct dialogue each year this doesn’t seem enough. If we don’t champion and embrace our fundraising, if the only people speaking out are those that find “chugging annoying and appalling”, or under-cover journalists looking for scandal, then we are leaving our fundraising open to huge risk of public backlash, threatening the longevity of our fundraising programs.
Please take a minute to respond below, and share your thoughts on why we as a sector don’t champion front line fundraisers as much as we could;
Joining thousands of people around the world in doing their own take on the global internet phenomenon, Pell & Bales fundraisers took part in a multi-site ’shake-off’, directing and editing their own videos to help raise awareness of a fantastic cause.
The London, Brighton and Glasgow shakes featured an array of interesting characters including an Angry Priest in Glasgow, a dancing Red Indian in Brighton and an enthusiastic Iron Man in London.
So which is your favourite shake? Vote by watching the videos and clicking on the giving page to the site you would like win. The site with the most money will receive an even bigger donation from the company so Get Voting!!
How will your organisations epitaph read: ‘We kept charity overheads low’ or ‘We changed the world’?
I was so happy to see that TED have recently covered Dan Pallotta’s talk: ‘The way we think about charity is dead wrong’ for millions to see.
Many of you will have heard Dan speak at the IFC in 2011 and like me you will relish the opportunity to see it again. If you haven’t seen Dan talk on the subject before please do watch this video – it’s not short, its 18 minutes long, but it’s an absolute must for anyone that works for or supports charity.
Dan talks about what is holding us back from really changing the world – from homing every homeless person, eradicating poverty, curing disease and providing an education for all. He demonstrates it is our thinking that holds us back – we confuse morality with frugality. Why do we ask ‘What percentage of my donation goes to the cause Vs overheads?’ and what instead if our bench mark was to ask about the scale of the organisations dream – their Apple, Google, Amazon scale dreams – and how will they measure progress towards that dream, and what do they need to realise them?
Last but not least - Designing and Delivering a Campaign - the final part of our telephone fundraising series. If you’ve read parts one and two you’ll already have a good understanding of why the phone is a great fundraising tool and how the phone can be used to drive the performance of almost any fundraising program. Tailoring the campaign to specific objectives, audience, cause and opportunity is key to success and the following is a great starting point for planning your agenda.
Before you plan any details take time out to think about your audience. Think about the donor profile, how they have supported you to date, why they supported you, and their connection to the cause. Think too about what you are going to ask of them and how they might respond to that ask – what barriers might they have to giving? And what else might come up during the conversation (topical news, complaints, info requests)?
Only then you can design an approach or write a script with your supporters in mind, choose a subject matter that they will connect with, devise an ask that is appropriate to the level and type of support they have given before and personalise the conversation.
Now plan your approach, from Hello to Goodbye.
How closely you ask the fundraiser to stick to a script should depend on their experience, knowledge of the subject matter, and how particular you are and how careful you need to be around wording and messaging. Regardless, having a script of some sort is crucial – it provides your fundraiser a ‘pathway’ through the conversation. By the very nature of conversation you can’t script everything, nor would you want to, but a good script will allow the fundraiser to weave seamlessly between supporter interaction & meeting the call objective, dealing with any barriers to giving along the way.
The graph above shows how a script or structure can give your conversations direction. Below I outline the purpose of each stage;
Intro - Build rapport (make it warm, friendly), reinforce any existing relationship
Ice-breaker - Open up the conversation and encourage interaction, gauge their levels of interest and ‘warmth’ (the fundraiser should be trained to tailor and personalise the call based on this intial interaction)
Inspiration – This is where your ‘story’ comes in, where you build your case for giving and inspire supporters to want to give
1st Ask - Be confident and direct in what you are asking for and where possible demonstrate impact through use of tangibles ‘can you give £5 to vaccinate and save the lives of 5 children’. Link the impact back to the beneficiary, not the organisational needs
The Fundraising – Not everyone will say yes at the first ask – the important thing is to listen to why they say no, demonstrate you have listened, and then suggest something more suitable to them. This is one of the amazing things about the phone – the ability to deliver a truly tailored ask to every supporter!
Confirmation – Be clear on what the supporter has agreed to do and what will happen next
Close - Ensure appropriate levels of thanks and warmth are used, especially to those that have chosen not to give. Supporters should never be left feeling guilty – supporters should feel more positive about the charity having received the call if they are to remain a supporter
Some of the most important qualities we look for when recruiting fundraisers are: maturity, empathy, shared values, conversational competence and listening skills.
Do not underestimate the importance of the fundraiser briefing. Focus on inspiring and motivating the team and be wary of ‘information overload’. Try to restrict yourself to covering only the things that will help them make a good call and remember it is OK not to know the answer to every supporter’s question, but it is not OK to make dispassionate, impersonal calls.
Use bench marking to ensure you are aiming to raise as much money as possible, but that your targets are realistic - it is tempting to be overly optimistic and challenge your fundraising teams to achieve more, but an unachievable target will impact on the team morale, jeopardise the supporter experience and ensure your campaign manager is unable to manage effectively. A true relationship fundraiser will also measure the impact and phone conversation has on attrition, future giving, donor satisfaction and lifetime value.
When setting targets think about setting average call length targets, or how many calls you expect each fundraiser to make in an hour or a shift. This will help you plan and manage resource levels and budgets.
Be clear on your expectations and how you are going to measure call quality. Listen to calls and feedback to fundraisers often.
As with all direct marketing, data is key. On a typical fundraising campaign ’Recency, Frequency, Value’ and ‘Tenure’ or ‘time on file’ is commonly used to drive selection and segmentation hierarchies: Generally, the more recently and frequently a donor has donated/petitioned/participated/text/enquired – the higher the response rate you can expect. When looking at previous giving behaviour it is particularly useful to look at response to any previous telephone asks – each historical refusal decreases the likelihood of them saying yes this time.
Recruitment source or channel will often impact on results too – look at this particularly if you use a diverse range of channels at recruitment or if you are calling recently recruited supporters. In addition to this, those that have given you their credit card details before are more likely to give their bank details over the phone and therefore achieve higher response rates. Equally, Gift Aiders are more likely to have a stable income and support with a regular gift.
OTHER THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
This is already a long blog post, at the end of a three-part series, so I will wrap up in the acknowledgement that I have overlooked the processing of gifts, data returns, post call fulfilment letters and emails, legal disclosures and opt ins, telephone number tracing or post campaign analysis and review. All important things but details best saved for those seriously thinking about running their first telephone campaign without the help of a professional fundraising agency. If that’s you, why not leave your details below or email Rebecca on email@example.com for a free copy of our ‘Telephone Fundraising for Dummies’ guide. And good luck – we’d love to hear how you get on and if you found this series of blogs useful.
So that’s it. In a nutshell a three-part, whistle-stop guide on what to think about when you are using the phone to fundraise!
So in part one we looked at why the phone is a great fundraising tool. Today we’ll look at how the phone can be used to drive performance of all sorts of different fundraising programs – from Donor Acquisition through to Legacy.
Part 2: How to use the phone across different fundraising programs
The phone can be used to enhance any fundraising program. Major Donor and corporate fundraisers have used the phone to build personal one-to-one relationships for years, and agencies like Pell & Bales have been used to reach larger audiences, most commonly within Individual Giving. The channel benefits from the ability to explain and ’sell’ more complicated giving products so has traditionally been used to explain and drive Regular Giving, Covenants & Gift Aid as well as Legacy giving. In more recent years the phone is also being used to build engagement, commitment and loyalty and we are seeing rapid growth in the phone being used for Event Fundraising and Loyalty Programs. Here is my overview of campaigns every charity should consider;
Upgrading Existing regular Giving Donors: Asking donors to increase the value of their gift – An opportunity not just to raise money but to make contact with your regular giving donors to update them on how their gift is helping, the impact it has.
Regular Giver Reactivation: Lapsed regular givers should be asked why they lapsed so the fundraiser can deal with any dissatisfaction or concerns, often bringing the supporter back on board at a lower amount than they were giving previously. Reactivation and Upgrade activity will deliver some of the strongest response rates and ROIs of all telemarketing [TM] activity.
Legacy : Moving donors to legators cannot be done in a single conversation – talk with your legacy prospects regularly, over a period of time to guide them through the decision-making process. Consider ‘Enquirer Generation’ activity in order to ‘sow the seed’ and inspire the donor, or ‘Intender/Considerer Stewardship’ activity in order to check in with your legacy prospects, answer their questions or concerns and provide any additional information they may want.
Gift Aid: Quickly increase Gift Aid penetration of your file with a short phone call. The phone is particularly good for targeting those who seem to ignore the Gift Aid ask on donation forms (those that actively avoid thinking about ‘scary and complicated’ tax affairs). I would also recommend calling ‘non-taxpayers’ on your database to see if their situation has changed, and to clarify that they definitely don’t pay any form of income tax.
Event Fundraising: Use the phone to 1. Approach donors and prospects with the registration ask to increase event participant numbers 2. Steward those that have already registered with ‘support calls’ to encourage and support their fundraising efforts and increase average sponsorship values and 3. Deliver post event calls to ‘non-returners’ to increase the number of donors returning a sponsorship donation.
Cold: Cold TM is tough, and an area in decline. For those with a strong brand and happy to wait several years for activity to break even it is still a viable option, though availability of quality data lists at volume is still a challenge.
Two stage recruitment: The limited availability of cold data (along with a decline in performance of other acquisition channels over the years) has led charities to develop two stage strategies, first building their own prospect pools of ‘hand-raisers’ and secondly phoning them with the conversion ask. SMS micro giving, street prospecting and campaigning are all proven tactics for growing prospect pools. More recently technology allows charities to harvest their web visitors too.
Database Names: Before embarking on any cold activity I would urge you to first audit your database and determine what prospects and supporters you already have sitting on your file. This data is free, and pre-disposed to supporting your cuase, so perfect for calling with a conversion ask. Most charities are sitting on a goldmine of data, whether its traders, campaigners, info requesters, event participants, Just Giving sponsors…
Cash conversion: The phone is commonly used to approach new, active and lapsed cash donors with a conversion to regular giving ask – use expert fundraisers to explain to your supporters just why regular gifts are so valuable.
Loyalty & Stewardship: Structure a conversation around the known drivers of commitment and loyalty and see significant improvement in retention rates, or use the phone to deliver satisfaction surveys which will drive your communications and loyalty programs going forward.
Regular Giving through Mobile Phones: A very exciting growth area and the next best thing since the Direct Debit! At Pell & Bales we work with Cymba to deliver Connected – a platform that allows supporters to take control of their monthly SMS gift direct from their mobile phone and delivers engaging content to that very same hand-set.
Cash Appeals: Mid-High value and Capital Appeals can work well on the phone. A lower value cash ask can struggle to break even however, so at Pell & Bales tend to combine the phone with mail when targeting lower value donors (allowing for a much shorter phone call and therefore a lower call cost) – A great way to give your fundraising a fast and significant cash injection (therfore popular at year-end and in emergencies).
Emergency Fundraising: The phone can’t be beaten when a rapid response is needed. At Pell & Bales we work with several disaster relief organisations and have several ‘on the shelf’ campaigns that are ready to call within hours of disaster striking.
Phew! That completes my whistle-stop tour of campaign types. There is so much more to say about each and every one of these fundraising areas, and with a promise to deliver more on each in the future why not leave a comment and let us know which campaign type you would most like us to provide more case studies, theory and practical advise on. And look out for the third and final part of the series next week: the basics of designing and executing a telephone campaign.
Until then, enjoy the New Year celebrations.
Developing your supporter database your New Year’s resolution?
Offering you the chance to freshen-up your fundraising, Pell & Bales might have the answers to make your 2013 wishes come true! We’re now giving away more free campaigns to round-off our 21st Birthday celebrations, promising a prosperous start to the year for a host of lucky causes.
With six spaces left to fill, we’ve spent the last year working in close-partnership with charities such as AVERT, Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Tommy’s, RLSB and British Forces Foundation, raising over £123,000 in testing new fundraising techniques. This includes Monthly Giving through Mobile Phones, Donor get Donor & Advocate fundraising, Online Prospecting and Event fundraising.
Looking to be inspired by all your fundraising objectives, we can’t wait to hear what fundraising issues you want to address. We hope too that by removing the cost we are removing the risk of testing new fundraising initiatives – perhaps to you, ‘new’ is doing tele-fundraising full stop, or perhaps you might be inspired by some of the things that we would love to get our teeth into next year:
•Connected – Why not be the latest client to test the game-changing monthly mobile giving platform. This new system allows supporters to take control of their monthly SMS gift direct from their mobile phone and delivers engaging content to that very same hand set. This regular giving platform is particularly attractive to small charities as the transactions, reporting and communication program are managed for you, from a hosted database.
•Donor Stewardship & Loyalty- We’re already leading the sector in using the phone to drive loyalty with our unique welcome and thank you calls, but we’re keen to take this further: Customer Services and Customer Satisfaction calls account for 38% of outbound phone calls in the commercial sector, yet account for just 1% in our sector! Why not choose 2013 to work with us and steward your donors with satisfaction surveys, SMS thank you’s, ‘wow’ moments, loyalty incentives and more shared, meaningful moments?
•Donor Led – Listening to the supporter, asking the right thing at the right time and presenting them with a choice in how they want to help your charity could yield huge rewards. And the phone can work extremely well as a channel for presenting those choices and guiding the donor through the decision making process towards supporting the charity in the way that they will have most impact.
•Integrating Channels & Multi Stage Campaigns – Maybe you already use the phone and would like to explore how integrating email or SMS can uplift results? Or perhaps you would like to use the phone to boost response rates to your mail pack? Why not take advantage of Pell & Bales multi-channel, integrated, CRM platform?
•2 Stage Recruitment – Acquisition of regular givers is tough, but acquisition becomes much easier when you break the process down into two stages however: 1. Attract the prospects or ‘hand raisers’, perhaps via SMS, Face to Face or from your website, and 2. Use the phone to convert them to Direct Debit. (This approach to acquisition deserves a whole other blog in itself – a blog we are sure to write up in the New Year!)
With the current batch of campaigns coming to an end and project reviews and case studies being pulled together, we are now looking forward to the exciting fundraising opportunities that lie ahead from the next set of lucky winners. So hurry and apply now to be in with a chance of winning!
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for an application form. Application forms need to be completed by January 31st.
Telephone Fundraising Part 1: How the phone delivers response rates at least 10x higher than other channels
Hearing that one in six charities may face closure next year is particularly worrying: It has never been more important to ensure that our fundraising programs are working as hard as possible to maximise income at every opportunity.
Speaking recently at Enlighten - a fab, new and not to mention affordable conference for smaller charities, I discussed how even the smallest charity can enhance its fundraising simply by adding the telephone to their channel mix. We discussed 1. Why the phone is a great fundraising tool 2. How the phone is used to drive performance of all sorts of different fundraising programs, and 3. how to go about designing and executing a campaign. These three areas will be covered over the next three weeks in our ‘Telephone Fundraising’ series.
Part 1: Why the phone is a great fundraising tool
The phone is used extensively and very successfully by charities large and small - this year Pell & Bales will hold 3 Million conversations with supporters across 250+ campaigns. The top 5 reasons the phone is such a great fundraising tool are as follows;
1) Higher Response Rates
As with any direct dialogue channel response rates are strong: around 10 times higher than response rates to mail for example. The table below shows one clients response rates to an upgrade campaign: The phone achieved an upgrade rate of 38% compared to 4% and 0.05% in the mail and email respectively;
2)Decline in Traditional Channel Effectiveness
While response rates and ROIs on the phone have remained consistently strong over the years, performance of other more traditional channels such as DRTV, door drop and direct mail have declined. This is particularly evident in acquisition fundraising where for many, these more passive channels simply don’t stack up anymore (on their own at least).
3)Engagement and Retention
Well known principles of stewardship and drivers of engagement are listening to your supporters, interacting with them, personalising your communications, demonstrating ‘shared values’ building ‘trust’ and ‘taking them on a journey’. What better channel for this than the phone? What better vehicle than real life conversation with your supporters?
As illustrated below, Pell & Bales see time and time again that where you do speak with supporters on the phone they will go on to have lower attrition rates than those that don’t receive a call (yes, even when the phone call was a fundraising one, and where the donor declines to give during the call!)
4)Positive Impact on Future Giving
Sticking with improved engagement, it’s not only attrition rates that can be measured. The example below shows the positive impact a phone conversation can have on response rates to subsequent mail packs;
Last but not least, the phone is flexible. One thing that can give traditional channels and almost any campaign a boost is channel integration, hence recent trends towards multi-channel, multi-stage campaigns, particularly in 2 stage acquisition for example. The phone is the one channel that can be applied universally and integrated seamlessly alongside any other channel across all types of campaign, for example follow-up SMS leads with a phone call or use the phone to announce an upcoming mailing.
So that’s why the phone is so powerful. Over the next 2 weeks we will also look at how the phone is used across different programs and how to go about designing and delivering a campaign. At the end of the series we will pull together a guide to using the phone in fundraising - if you are interested in receiving that, or a copy of the Enlighten presentation please leave a comment below so we can get in touch.