Telephone Fundraising Part 3- Designing and Delivering a Campaign

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.


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 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!

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.

How to Reduce Donor Attrition by a Third in 3 Minutes

As we discussed in last week’s blog a 10% increase in donor loyalty today would enhance the lifetime value of your fundraising database by up to 200%!

At Pell & Bales we’re doing exactly that – helping our charity clients increase loyalty by at least 10% in one 3 minute conversation.

In the last 18 months we have developed a solid approach to loyalty calls that’s reducing attrition savings by a 3rd in the immediate few months after the call, delivering a year 1 ROI of 3:1 and breaking even by month 3.

In fact, for every £100 spent c. £1,000 is generated in year one income!

And that’s just measuring the savings in attrition. Beyond that there are other rewards to reap from enhanced loyalty & engagement. One client has reported a 50% increase in response to a subsequent event ask and another reports a 30% increase in response to an upgrade ask.

How it works

  • Design a call that is about the donor – not about the charity and definitely not about fundraising or the charity needs. The aim is to make giving feel good, rewarding, involving and impactful
  • Allow yourself a budget, time and resource to have a real conversation with supporters
  • It’s not so much about what you say, more about how you make donors feel: listen to what they have to say, let them visualize and contextualize the impact of their gift, inspire them. Make them feel part of the bigger picture, the solution, and reinforce that their vision is your vision; that you will deliver on your promises, on your joint mission
  • Create a check list of known drivers in loyalty and commitment and address them through conversation (we use Sargeant and Woodliffe research, gathered supporter insight and our own research here)
  • Weave anti-attrition messaging into the conversation: be flexible and accommodating – offer payment holidays or even downgrades where appropriate
  • Encourage multiple relationships and a greater involvement and increased interaction in the cause (but don’t ask them for more support)

Why it works

No other channel offers the personal human interaction of the telephone. Loyalty is about relationship building, but how are you going to do that if you can’t hear what the other person’s saying? The phone allows a supporter to tell you what’s important to them, to ask you questions and to build rapport in the way they just can’t do with a piece of paper or video.

Third Sector’s latest ‘Giving Trends’ research says that the telephone is the most effective way to solicit donations. Now we know it’s also the best way to retain and nurture donors.

A conversation like this sets the tone for the relationship between you and your supporter.  Calls work particularly well when placed early on in the donor relationship. With the most significant attrition happening within months 0-4 it is advisable to place a loyalty call before their first Direct Debit payment has been made.

Results by recruit source

Across multiple clients and various data sources we consistently see a reduction in attrition, post call of c.1/3rd

And while the effects of the call do start to taper off a little over time, there is still a lasting impact 16 months after the phone conversation!

Look out for further blogs where I will explore Sargeant and Woodliffe’s  ‘key drivers of commitment’ (Service Quality; Risk; Shared Beliefs; Learning; Personal Link; Multiple Engagements and Trust) and how they can be translated into your donor communications.