Posts tagged ‘“Effective Telephone Fundraising”’

July 19, 2013

Do You Make Any of These Mistakes When Speaking with Donors?

[PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Michael J. Rosen, CFRE will be presenting "How to Launch and Market a Planned Giving Program at Your Nonprofit," a webinar for the Fundraising Authority on July 25. A podcast will be available following the webinar. To learn more and to register, click HERE.]

 

When you speak with prospects or donors, on the telephone or in person, do you know how to make the most of the conversation? Or, do you inadvertently make some mistakes that could be keeping you from securing greater levels of support for your organization?

Tripping Hazard Sign by Jeffrey Beall via FlickrBelow, you’ll find a number of common conversational missteps that fundraising professionals make all too often. See how many mistakes you make or avoid in a typical contact. If you manage to consistently avoid all of the potential problems that I identify, I congratulate you and encourage you to give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back.

On the other hand, if you find you’re making some mistakes, don’t feel too badly. Just work on improving. Know that by practicing and doing better, you’ll engage more supporters and secure larger donations than ever before.

Here’s what got me thinking about how we communicate with prospects and donors: I recently received a telephone fundraising call made on behalf of a nonprofit theatre company. My wife and I have attended the theatre company’s performances and have donated money from time to time.

The call was TERRIBLE! But, I realized that the caller’s mistakes are not blunders limited to phone campaigns. The caller’s missteps can apply to any phone or in-person conversation:

Mistake 1 — Not Being Ready. When my phone rang, I answered it and said, “Hello.” Actually, I said “hello” two or three times before the caller finally came on the line. Based on experience, I knew that I was the recipient of a telemarketing call that utilizes predictive dialing technology. I was annoyed that I had to wait for the caller, even for just a second or two. Instead, he should have been ready and waiting for me.

When a prospect or donor is ready to talk to you, be ready to talk to him. If a supporter calls you, recognize that the call is not an interruption of your work; it is your work. While speaking with the person, look-up her record and quickly familiarize yourself with it.

If you are the one initiating the contact, prepare yourself in advance. Review the person’s record. If his name is difficult to pronounce, practice saying it. Know what you want to accomplish during the conversation.

Be ready. Stay focused and do not let yourself be distracted.

Mistake 2 — Not Obeying the Law. At the beginning of the phone conversation, the caller did not identify himself as a “professional solicitor,” as required by Pennsylvania law. While it’s possible I missed the disclosure statement, the caller should have been sure to mention his status and the name of the company employing him. And he should have done it in a clear fashion.

While a nonprofit organization’s fundraising staff does not have to identify themselves as “professional solicitors,” there are other laws that must be followed. For example, unless the organization is exempt, it must be registered to solicit in every state in which it is going to solicit. It’s not enough simply to register in one’s home state.

Comply with the law and make sure your organization does so as well.

Mistake 3 — Plowing Ahead. After introducing himself and mentioning the name of the theatre company, the caller plowed ahead with his pitch. He did not ask for my permission to proceed.

When calling a prospect or donor, greet her and request her permission to speak asking something like, “I’d like to speak with you for a few moments, is that ok?”

There are a number of potential benefits to asking permission to speak. First, rather than metaphorically barging into someone’s home or office, you’re seeking permission to enter. That’s just good manners.

Second, by asking permission to speak, you’ll distinguish your call from most “junk” calls someone will receive.

Third, by asking permission to speak, you give the other person a dimension of control that will make her feel more comfortable and at ease. In other words, she’ll be more receptive to what comes next.

Fourth, if you’ve called at a truly bad time, the person will not be receptive to the call. So, why plow ahead? At best, he’ll be distracted, or he might even become annoyed. Instead, if you ask permission to speak, you’ll find out if the person is able to focus on your conversation or not. If not, you can arrange an appointment to call back or visit at a more convenient time. And, when you do contact the person again, he’ll not only be receptive, he’ll appreciate your flexibility and follow-up.

My mother was right. Good manners are important.

Practice good manners.

October 28, 2011

5 Things Never to Do in Your Phone Fundraising Calls

With this blog post, I’m launching a new, regular feature at Michael Rosen Says. Periodically, I’ll invite an outstanding, published book author to write a guest post. If you’re an author who would like to be considered, please contact me directly.

For the first author-guest-post, I invited Stephen F. Schatz, CFRE, author of Effective Telephone Fundraising: The Ultimate Guide to Raising More Money, the definitive book about how to make a successful appeal using the phone. Steve and I worked together as telephone fundraising pioneers. In his book, for which I wrote the Foreword, he reveals most of our proven techniques. Step-by-step, his book shows the right way, the most effective way to do telephone fundraising. As the back-cover says, “Despite the advent of sophisticated fundraising methods via the Internet, social media, and other online platforms, the bottom-line truth is: good old-fashioned telephone fundraising still works, bringing in over one billion dollars annually from generous Americans. It’s a wellspring of untapped funds your nonprofit could be reaping. Savvy, straightforward, and humorous, Effective Telephone Fundraising: The Ultimate Guide to Raising More Money shows you how to secure more donors, raise more money, and build donor loyalty.”

For this post, Steve looks at things from a different perspective and shares what he believes are the things fundraisers should never do in their phone fundraising programs:

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When my wife heard that I was writing an article about the DON’Ts of telephone fundraising for Michael’s blog, Michael Rosen Says, her helpful suggestion for #1 was “Don’t pick up the phone — it might be a telemarketer!”

I had to explain the slant was to help telephone fundraisers, not to hurt them. In my recent book, Effective Telephone Fundraising, I suggest plenty of “DOs” — things you can do to make effective telephone fundraising calls. But here for your reading pleasure are some of the DON’Ts!

1) DON’T NEGELECT TO ASK PERMISSION TO SPEAK

In the cyber fundraising world, they call this “Opt In” or “Opt Out.” In telephone fundraising, it’s simply asking the prospect to speak with you. A range of nuance is available to the fundraiser from the interrogative “Is now a good time?” to the declarative “I’d like to speak with you a few moments about XYZ Charity, if that’s okay…” giving the prospect the opportunity to opt out. It’s simple courtesy.

The telephone is an interruptive medium. Your call is either coming into the prospect’s home, office, even the automobile. You are interrupting their time, mind and focus. Barging through by telephone is like a door–to-door brush salesman ringing your bell, and the moment you open the door, sticking his foot in the crack and proceeding to make a pitch — perhaps even waving his latest dandy toilet brush in your face — saying, “It’ll make your bowl the tidiest and cleanest in town!” Rude!

What if the prospect chooses “opt out”? You can try to arrange a more convenient time he or she will “opt in.” If you can’t? Chances are you wouldn’t receive a gift anyway, even by sticking your foot in the door!

2) DON’T FAIL TO ASK FOR A SPECIFIC AMOUNT

This is one of the most difficult things for new fundraisers to overcome — a fear to steel one’s self to make a proposal with a dollar tag attached. The maxim “ask and you shall receive” is indeed apt.

How successful would a grants writer be in writing a proposal to a foundation that ended, “Well, anything your foundation can spare this year, we’ll appreciate!” Or, thinking in another, completely different vein, a young man asking a girl out for a date, shyly looking down as he shuffles his feet, “Uh, Shirley, maybe you’d like to go out with me sometime?” — as opposed to the more direct, “Shirley, there’s a great new pizza shop on Market Street with the best pizza in town. How would you like to come with me next Tuesday?”

Allow the prospect to focus on a number, a specific dollar proposal. If the prospect rejects that, it opens the door to a counterproposal, a lower amount. G = f(A) is an indelible formula for telephone fundraising, and for philanthropy in general: the number of gifts you receive is a direct function of the number of asks you make.

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