Telephone Fundraising Part 2: How to use the phone in fundraising

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.

Freshen up your 2013 fundraising with free campaigns from Pell & Bales

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 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;

Upgrade Response Rates by channel final

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;

subsequent mail response graph2


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.