Working telephone fundraising into multi-channel


This article by Bethan Holloway first appeared in Charities Management magazine


Working telephone fundraising into multi-channel


BETHAN HOLLOWAY, client services director at telemarketing agency PELL & BALES, says nowadays telephone fundraising has to be put into a multi-channel context

In the current economic climate, charities are facing one of the most challenging fundraising environments for some time. The cost of acquiring new donors continues to rise as more direct and less passive forms of fundraising are used. Meanwhile, an increased rate of donor attrition – the loss of existing donors – shows no sign of abating as people tighten their belts.

Unless charities make use of fundraising opportunities in new and imaginative ways to improve donor retention rates and generate more income from existing supporters, they are likely to see a fall in both the number of donors they retain and hence the income they bring in.

Although there is no single answer to the pressures that charities are facing, wiser heads will see the merits of integrated ‘multi-channel’ communication as fundraising teams look to connect with younger, technologically-savvy supporters. Charities which don’t want to be left behind should make sure that they are investing in the technology or working with agencies which will enable them to deliver this.

Communicating with supporters

Fundraising across multiple channels allows charities to communicate with their supporters in a way that fits with their lifestyle, preferences and media consumption habits. A narrow focus on single channel fundraising – for example, fundraising exclusively using direct mail – is no longer enough. The profile of the “typical” donor has changed significantly in the last ten years.

At the beginning of the last decade, direct mail was the favoured method. Donors today are younger and tend to use a variety of media – from web pages to SMS text messaging and social media – in their everyday lives. They don’t just want to give money. They also want to fundraise, advocate their chosen causes and engage in conversation with the organisations they are supporting.

Of course, telephone fundraisers have long understood that effective communication with donors requires an adaptable, tailored approach which means that people are hearing from them in a way that is appropriate and relevant. For telephone fundraisers this has often involved the use of different “voices” to reach out to supporters, using a different script, tone or style of dialogue depending on the person being called. Integrating multiple channels into a fundraising campaign can be seen as an extension of this.

Previously untapped support

By embracing channels that complement the telephone, and choosing a medium that fits with the profile of the target donor, shrewd telephone fundraisers have been able to use different channels to reach previously untapped sources of support.

For example, by using online channels in conjunction with the traditional telephone, fundraisers have been able to reach donors who might otherwise not have responded well to a cold “donor acquisition” call. One way that this has been done is to combine an online action and a phone call. For example, a charity’s website can be configured so that it features a “call me” or “register now” button which, when clicked, asks for a telephone number to be provided by the reader who, in turn, receives an instant call from a telephone fundraiser.

Alongside online channels, SMS text messaging is also popular as a way to enhance and extend the effectiveness of traditional fundraising techniques. SMS based calls to action generally involve asking a potential donor to text a word, such as “help”, to a five or six digit number. The donor then receives a call from a person on the telephone.

SMS calls to action

This method has two distinct advantages: SMS calls to action are short, giving them a versatility that allows them to be printed in many places, such as billboard posters, television adverts – even on the side of a disposable coffee cup. In sending an SMS text message, the sender is also providing the fundraiser with a validated phone number which they can call straight away or add to their database for future use.

Smartphones in particular present a hugely exciting opportunity for fundraisers who want to deliver content that can help retain donors and keep them informed. All content, conversations and fundraising “asks” can be delivered to one handset which never leaves a donor’s side. Reaching your supporters through their smartphones should increase “cut-through”.

People are more likely to read something that has been delivered to their phone rather than posted through their letterbox. Smartphones lend themselves well to instant responses to appeals and other calls to action. Telephone fundraising agencies have developed software which allows donors to make and control monthly gifts direct from their mobile phones and receive multi-media content, including email and video, in return.

Speed is of the essence

Of course, capability is one thing; making the best use of the capability is quite another. Speed is of the essence for the telephone fundraiser who wants to work effectively across multiple channels. It is important that all channels – telephone, online, SMS and video – are integrated together in such a way that provides the donor with a seamless experience. Minimising the time between a potential donor sending a text and receiving a follow-up call is important.

Fundraisers will get the best results if they speak with potential supporters while the original call to action is still fresh in their mind. The technology exists for this. For example, there is software which can plan telephone calls, generate emails and send SMS text messages from one platform. This means that communication across all channels can be planned, delivered and measured in an integrated way, rather than separately, in a silo, as might otherwise have been the case.

With the proliferation of an increasingly wide range of media and communications channels, the telephone can still play a pivotal role in any multi-channel fundraising programme. It is an engaging and interactive medium. Whether using voice, SMS text messaging or email, mobile telephones will be the platform that supports both inbound and outbound messages, allowing for real interaction and supporter-led fundraising. In addition, for conveying the emotional impact of a charity’s cause or campaign message, the telephone, still, reigns supreme.

This article by Bethan Holloway first appeared in Charities Management magazine

Making loyalty calls to your donors



This article by Bethan Holloway first appeared in Charities Management magazine


BETHAN HOLLOWAY of fundraising agency PELL & BALES says: Does the charity sector really need to be reminded of the importance of good manners, saying thank you and looking after donors? The answer, perhaps surprisingly, is yes

As charities have continued to feel the squeeze, many fundraising teams across the sector have understandably focused on acquiring new donors. However, a hard-nosed approach, which has income generation as its sole goal, will only take you so far. Charities need to also make sure that they are looking after and getting as much value as they can from existing donors.

Charities could learn a lesson or two from the commercial sector in this respect, which has led the way in using the telephone to make customers feel valued. Nearly four in every ten calls made to customers by commercial organisations are service calls. In other words, they are calls which do not contain a sales pitch or “ask”. In the charity sector, this type of call, often referred to as a loyalty call, accounts for just 1% of calls made to supporters.

Looking after donors means more than just making a positive impression. By giving donors that personal touch, loyalty calls can play an important role in helping to ensure that those who have decided to give continue to do so. Donor attrition – the rate at which existing donors stop making donations – is just one area that can be addressed by looking after your donors.

In the last decade attrition has become a major issue for fundraisers, driven by changes to the methods and channels used to sign donors up. In 2000, when a majority of donors were recruited using direct mail, fewer than one in ten people who signed up for regular giving stopped making donations within a year. By 2005 nearly one third stopped within a year and by 2011 the proportion had risen to nearly half – 41%.

There is no single solution to this, but there is evidence that a well timed loyalty call to give thanks or provide an update on a charity’s work can have a positive impact. Carefully timed thank you calls can reduce rates of donor attrition by as much as a third in the first year.

Charities need to put time, energy and – yes – money into looking after their donors and should not just do it as an afterthought. The “thank you” call – just one example of how a charity can look after its donors – serves to illustrate the point here. Careful thought should be given to the timing of the thank you call as there is no “one size fits all” approach. A one-off call could be made to a donor during those crucial first four weeks when attrition rates are high or, alternatively, charities could track their attrition rates over time and schedule thank you calls at those points when drop-off tends to be at its highest.

Some thought also needs to be given to the method by which donors are kept informed and made to feel valued. Despite the proliferation of media and communications channels in recent years the telephone remains one of the most effective mediums for making donors feel valued. It allows for a personalised approach that is difficult to replicate using other channels. Whatever their merits, direct mail and email simply do not convey the same level of personalised attention as a telephone call.

Among charities, the competition for supporters is intense, and those charities which remember the importance of good manners and take the time to look after their donors will have the edge over those that don’t. Remember – if you don’t keep your donors happy and engaged, someone else will.


This article by Bethan Holloway first appeared in Charities Management magazine

A Magic Moment


A couple of weeks ago Craig Linton [aka Fundraising Detective] came to our offices to talk to us about creating supporter ‘magic moments’

Magic Moments; Surprise & Delight; Wow Moments: these are the buzz words in the sector and on the lips of those in-the-know about great donor stewardship

We love the concept here at Pell & Bales, and I’ll be sure to write a blog about this subject and the telephone very soon. But in the mean time we would like to share our very own Magic Moment. It came less than 24 hours after Craig’s visit and quite literally had us ‘wowing’ in the office. Thank you team bibic….


Dear Pell & Bales,

We are totally and utterly over the moon!!! Thank you so much for choosing bibic to benefit from one of your free campaigns – we are so excited at the opportunity. It is bibic’s 40th birthday this year and you could not have given us a better gift!…

….The team here are really looking forward to working with Pell & Bales as you can see below… the photo is a bit blurry because it was taken by our Accounts Manager and he gets a bit excitable when we talk about regular giving! 

 I hope that you have a brilliant Bank Holiday weekend and, once again, thank you for your tremendous support of our work to transform the lives of disabled children.

With very best wishes

Jess Winchester, Fundraising & Communications Manager, bibic


Pell & Bales picks first 10 Charities to receive a FREE tele-fundraising campaign


Back in February we announced that we would run 21 free campaigns this year to celebrate our 21st year. After a wonderful response and some amazing applications we have now chosen the first 10 charities to support.

Avert; bibic; Breakthrough Breast Cancer; Beating Bowel Cancer; British Forces Foundation; Merlin; Royal London Society for the Blind; Breast Cancer Campaign; Tommy’s and UNICEF


And we can’t wait to get calling! Every pound we raise on these campaigns will feel that bit more special, knowing that these charities might not normally have the opportunity or the budget to undertake telephone fundraising.

The campaigns will be diverse, and hopefully the subject of many a future blog post and case study;

Event Fundraising

The phone is used increasingly more in event fundraising, and there were certainly many applications from events teams. From registration to post event, the phone will be added to the communication plan: Conversation will be used to increase registration rates, make support calls that will boost sponsorship values as well as good luck and thank you messages and to collect sponsorship money

Integrated Channel Campaigns

In most of the free campaigns the telephone will be partnered with mail, inbound and outbound SMS, email, social media or website optimisation. We wanted to offer the opportunity to run fully integrated campaigns, making the most of our new cross-channel CRM technology

Fundraising Disciplines

We have chosen a real mix of fundraising disciplines, from securing cash gifts, Direct Debit gifts, monthly giving through mobile phones, donor get donor initiatives and ‘stewardship’ or ‘loyalty’ calls

I estimate that from the 10 campaigns selected so far will raise as much as £300,000! …wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could raise £1million by the end of the year across the 21 campaigns? Now there’s a challenge!

Thank you to everyone that is involved in this project and the teams here for taking this on when they are so busy!

We will be sure to announce the opportunity to apply for one of the remaining 11 places later in the year and in the mean time keep you up to date with our fundraising