Posts tagged ‘phone’

October 10, 2016

Stop Pretending that You Work for Stanford!

It’s big news.

Stanford University has shut down its annual fund telephone fundraising program. You can visit the university’s official web page announcing the decision by clicking here.

It’s all over the blog-a-sphere. It’s made headlines in publications for the nonprofit sector. For example, here’s a headline from The Chronicle of Philanthropy:

Stanford Hangs Up on Telemarketing — Will Others Follow?

I’ll leave it to others to speculate about whether other charities will follow Stanford’s lead. I’ll also leave it to others to consider whether or not Stanford made a wise or foolish move. Instead, I’ll focus on whether or not you should also discontinue your organization’s telephone fundraising effort.

Simply put, you should probably keep your own telephone fundraising program. Here are just five of my random thoughts that lead me to that conclusion:

1.  You do NOT work for Stanford, so don’t act like you do!

Unless I’m mistaken, you don’t work for Stanford, or Harvard, or Yale, or Cornell, etc. Such prestigious universities have built-in, loyal constituencies and, therefore, have a massive advantage over your charity. Not only could Stanford eliminate its phone program, it could fire nearly its entire development staff and still raise much more money than the average American nonprofit organization.

Your challenges are vastly different than those faced by Stanford. So, your challenges require different solutions. If you don’t work at Stanford, don’t make the mistake of acting as if you do.

2.  Telephone fundraising is less effective than it was, but it still works.

Since the early 1980s, I’ve heard so-called experts predicting the extinction of telephone fundraising. Interestingly, many of those same folks also predicted the demise of direct mail.

phone-and-moneyThey were wrong then, and they are wrong now. Neither mail nor phone are as effective as they once were. However, smart organizations have evolved their use of both. The outcome is that these organizations are still able to produce worthwhile results by both mail and phone. It’s not about extinction; it’s about innovation and evolution.

Colin Bickley, writing for NonProfitPRO, provides superb analysis of some of the telephone fundraising challenges faced by the nonprofit sector. However, Bickley concludes:

The telefundraising business is never going away, but it is changing. And right now, it’s clear that its changing more than ever.”

3.  Don’t judge all telephone fundraising by looking just at bad programs.

I’m amazed at how many TERRIBLE telephone fundraising calls I receive. I suspect that the charities responsible are either disappointed with their program results, don’t know enough to be disappointed, or think they’re doing the best they can.

Let’s face it. If your calls are bad, your results will be bad. Remember the old adage, “Garbage in, garbage out.” Not all calling programs are of equal quality. If you’re not getting the results you want, look for opportunities to improve before abandoning the entire medium. You wouldn’t stop your direct mail efforts because one mailing didn’t do well, would you?

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August 14, 2015

Easy Ways to Cultivate Your Donors and Raise More Money

Steven Shattuck recently interviewed me about one of my favorite topics for Bloomerang TV: Donor Cultivation.

Many nonprofit organizations see caring cultivation and solid stewardship as luxuries rather than essential components of the fundraising process. That’s one reason for low donor retention rates, 23 percent for first-time donors and 43 percent overall.

Well, I’m here to tell you that if you simply ask for donations with little or no attention given to cultivation and stewardship, you’re nothing more than a professional beggar. Development professionals recognize that fundraising does not begin and end with an appeal. Development professionals know the importance of cultivation and stewardship.

During my interview, I share a number of easy to implement, low-cost ideas for cultivating and stewarding your prospects and donors. One of the things I talk about is the value of pleasantly surprising people; I even share a couple of examples. You can read the full interview transcript of “Sneaky Ways to Cultivate Donors” by clicking here. You can watch the full 17 minute video below:

For more tips about cultivating your planned giving prospects and donors, read my article “Effectively Cultivating Prospects at Little or No Cost” which appeared in Advancing Philanthropy, the magazine of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. For additional tips and great examples for educating, cultivating, and stewarding planned giving prospects and donors, checkout my book Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing.

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March 18, 2015

Bernard Ross Reveals the Next Big Thing in Fundraising!

Have you ever wondered what your donors are thinking? Life would be so much simpler if you could read their minds.

Now, we’re actually a step closer to knowing.

To understand what your donors are thinking, you first need to understand how they think. That’s where veteran consultant and author Bernard Ross, Director of The Management Centre, and fundraising consultant Alan R. Hutson, Jr., Principal and Managing Partner of The Monument Group, can help.

Thinking-Please Wait by  Karola Riegler Photography via FlickrIn a preview of their session “Behavioural Economics: Everything You Know about Donor Decision Making is Wrong” at the AFP International Fundraising Conference (Baltimore, March 29-31, 2015), Ross told me the duo will show attendees how they can apply the work of Dr. Daniel Kahneman, author of the bestseller Thinking, Fast and Slow, to better understand their prospects and donors and, thereby, enhance their fundraising efforts.

Kahneman, a psychologist who won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, says we have two complementary processes by which we make decisions in life, including fundraising decisions. He refers to these as System 1 and System 2. System 1 operates automatically and quickly, like an autopilot. System 2 allocates attention to effortful, conscious mental activities. We think System 2 is at work most of the time; however, Kahneman has found it is, in fact, System 1.

Ross asserts:

Hutson and I believe that Kahneman’s insights are the next big thing in fundraising.”

Ross observes that most fundraising professionals think donors are making rational judgments when they are not. Think of the old sales axiom: “People buy based on emotion then justify, after the fact, with logic.” A similar process is often involved with philanthropic decision-making.

Donors make philanthropic decisions based on six to eight key mental heuristics — or System 1 short cuts — that we all use. Ross says that fundraisers can learn these heuristics and use them to transform response rates, gift sizes, and more. In their session, Hutson and Ross will introduce participants to these key heuristics and show them how that knowledge is being used to remarkable effect by charities around the world.

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February 17, 2015

The Greatest Idea for Retaining and Upgrading Donors

Every charity wants more money from donors. If only existing donors would write larger checks, become monthly supporters, make a major gift, and/or commit to a planned gift, there would be less pressure on the fundraising staff and the organization would be able to do more to fulfill its mission.

But, how can you raise more from your donors if they do not stick around?

Nationally, the median nonprofit organization finds that its donor retention rate is just 43 percent! Among first-time donors, the retention rate is an obscenely low 23 percent! (The stats come from the AFP Fundraising Effectiveness Project.)

Donor Retention 20013-14The good news is that if you can increase your nonprofit organization’s donor retention rate by just ten percentage points, you could see an increase of up to 200 percent in donor lifetime value, according to researcher Dr. Adrian Sargeant. In other words, if you retain more donors, they will increase their giving and some will even encourage others to support your organization as well.

Unfortunately, increasing your donor retention rate won’t happen all by itself. You need to make it happen. So, what is the simplest, most effective tactic for accomplishing this?

Telephone by laerpel via FlickrDo you see that shiny box on your desk? It’s probably black with some flashing lights, and it’s plugged into the wall. It’s a telephone. Pick it up and call your donors to thank them for their support. While you’re at it, find out why they support your organization.

Yes, it really is that simple. CALL YOUR DONORS!

Multiple research studies have proven that thank-you calls are a powerful donor retention tactic. For example, Penelope Burk, in her book Donor Centered Fundraising, reports:

•  95 percent of study donors stated they would appreciate a thank-you call within a day or two of the organization receiving their donation.

•  85 percent said such a thank-you call would influence them to give again.

•  84 percent said they would definitely or probably give a larger gift.

Burk went on to report, when donors were tracked after 14 months, the group that received a thank-you call gave 42 percent more on average compared to similar donors who did not receive a thank-you call. During the renewal cycle, those who received a thank-you call were 39 percent more likely to renew their support.

Here are some tips to make your thank-you calls effective:

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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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July 8, 2011

10 Tips to Save You from Becoming a Horrible Warning

“It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.” — Unknown

A couple of weeks ago, I shared with you the news that the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance has outperformed the fundraising efforts of the average human services organization (Giving USA 2011: Good News or More Bad News?). I even shared some insights about how PCA was able to accomplish this feat despite the recession.

In this post, I’ll be taking a different approach. I’m going to share with you information about the Foundation Fighting Blindness. Rather than serving as an example of what a nonprofit organization should do, it serves as a warning about what organizations should never do in their telephone fundraising programs and other development efforts. I also provide ten tips to help you avoid making the same mistakes as the Foundation.

I suffer from Retinitis Pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that will lead to my blindness by the time I reach age 72, unless a cure or treatment is discovered. The Foundation funds research about RP and macular degeneration. Because of my obvious interest in the work the Foundation funds, my wife and I have been generous financial supporters for many years. In addition, before selling my former direct response agency, I managed a successful pilot phone fundraising campaign for the Foundation many years ago.

Photo by Brian Wright (via Flickr, BaronBrian)

Over the years, I’ve fought many battles with the Foundation. For example, it took years of effort before they would acknowledge gifts as coming from both my wife and me; for the longest time, despite my objections and both our names appearing on the checks, they insisted on only recognizing me. More recently, I was invited to a dinner-in-darkness fundraising event. I objected for reasons I won’t get into here; I requested not to be invited in the future. Guess what? A year later, I received another invitation to a similarly styled event. Last year, I received a generic telephone fundraising call. At my giving level, I was surprised to be included in the phone campaign. I had other problems with the call, made by a telephone fundraising vendor. So, I called the Foundation and was connected to a lower-level development staff member. As I told the phone fundraising caller, I again requested not to be included in future phone fundraising campaigns. I also requested a call from the Chief Development Officer or Chief Executive Officer. I also offered my services on a pro bono basis; I’m a telephone fundraising pioneer and even wrote the Foreword to the definitive book on the subject, Effective Telephone Fundraising by Stephen F. Schatz, CFRE. To my great surprise, there was zero follow-up. However, I was included in this year’s phone fundraising effort despite my request not to be!

When I received this year’s call, I saved my breath. I told the caller that I would “consider” renewing my support. By the way, the call was again generic, did not acknowledge my very generous past support, and did not recognize my many years of involvement with the Foundation. The caller, in his long monologue, did not even mention any specific research projects that would be of interest to me.

Would you like to guess what I did after I got off the phone? That’s right. I picked the phone back up and called the Foundation office and left an after-hours voice mail message. I did get to speak to a lower-level development staff person. I shared my enormous frustration with the Foundation, its failure to behave in a donor-centric fashion, and it misappropriate handling of its relationship with me. This person was savvy enough to apologize and have the Chief Development Officer contact me. Unfortunately, the CDO was defensive. Furthermore, he failed to satisfactorily acknowledge my special relationship with the Foundation, and he was completely disinterested in tapping my direct-response expertise. I think the CDO should take donor-relations lessons from the staff member I spoke with first.

The final insult came when I received my “considering” letter from the phone fundraising vendor. The letter came in a window envelope with metered postage instead of a live stamp. This is not exactly the best way to make an appeal seem personal. Furthermore, the envelope contained the screaming message, “URGENT: Your pledge confirmation is enclosed.” That’s nice, except I did not make a pledge, a point acknowledged by the letter inside; I only told the caller I would “consider” making a pledge. But, I opened the envelope anyway. It was at that point that I noticed that the letter had been misaddressed to my wife. It wasn’t addressed to me. It wasn’t addressed to my wife and me. It was addressed only to my wife! The text of the letter acknowledged that she was only “considering” support. The letter went on to say that “many studies” need funding. However, it did not cite any specific research projects, particularly any that involve my disease. It was a weak letter. It was also an ugly form letter with an attached response card. Again, not the way to make a personal appeal, especially not to a significant donor. The letter used a modest font size and a sans-serif (i.e.: Arial) typeface; knowing that a large number of the Foundation’s donors — therefore, a large number of recipients of the letter — are effected by degenerative eye disease, a larger font size should have been used along with an easier to read serif font (i.e. Times New Roman). The letter also contained at least one spelling error and one punctuation error! Finally, the letter requested a gift of “$100, $50, or $25.” Given my previous level of giving, such a request can only be described as stupid. It’s been sometime since I’ve seen a single letter commit so many sins.

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