Can Social Media Lessen the Negative Impact of Telephone Appeals


Those damn telemarketers that call when you’re working on the final draft of an a business proposal, who call when you’re trying to settle the kids for the night, who call when you’re trying to enjoy a quiet night with the family. Love them or hate them, they all have a job to do, and no not it’s not to disturb you; it’s a bit more than that. 

Every telemarketer is doing their job, the same as you do everyday you head off to the office, but what is different is the telemarketer is seen to be intrusive. 

When it comes to charities using the telephone to raise money (and awareness) they’re using one of the most cost effective ways possible. Yes, using the phone can be more cost effective than envelope appeals and even bucket collections – but that’s something for another time; for now let’s focus on the use of the telephone. 

We all know that charities, whether we’re part of one or a supporter need to reach the most people in the shortest time, at the lowest cost, and the phone seems to win hands down on cost per hit. But, how can charities better make use of, and help reduce the angst, the negative impact it’s use can cause? 

Part of the role of telephone appeals is to raise awareness of the charity, the cause, and it’s beneficiaries. So why not use social media to help ease the path for those ‘pesky’ calls. 

If a charity is using social media, why not use it to let people know of there upcoming telephone appeal, as part of their online activity they could ask their connections, followers and fans to let their friends know that a telephone appeal will be starting in their area. 

It may work, it may not, unless charities start trying this approach we won’t know. It’s worth the effort – see it as part of the PR campaign. 

Wouldn’t it be nice for telephone canvassers to be met with a warmer reception? Imagine what it could do, even if it resulted in only a 1 or 2% growth in donations it’s worth it – isn’t it? 

Charities could be using social media to talk about their upcoming appeal, asking people what they’d like to see from the appeal – and ask questions about what causes people give to. 

Dialogue and engagement will get people talking, this talk can and will likely lead to people be more receptive to a call. Sure, some people who see messages on FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any other site will give, others will also help pass the word, sharing with their friends and family. 

Imagine if charities were to start using YouTube to talk about their appeal, maybe even including a “sample” or the telephone appeal – this would give an insight into what people could expect from a call. 

Will it work? In short, yes it will. How well the use of social media be in supporting telephone appeals we won’t know until someone gives it a real shot. 

Have you considered or used social media to support your telephone appeal? If so, how did it work out?


Impact of the Christchurch Earthquake on fundraising, donor behaviour and charity decision-making

A number of charities have made comment recently about concerns they have about the ability of their donors to give post the Christchurch Earthquake – and in looking to see what could be the possible impact on donor contributions I stumbled across What has the impact of the February Christchurch Earthquake been on fundraising, donor behaviour and charity decision-making? – a report from Xponential Philanthropy.

What was the not for profit fundraising sector’s experience post-earthquake? 

“In the beginning of May, Xponential Philanthropy conducted a simple electronic survey to determine the fundraising behaviour of the not for profit sector post-earthquake and to assess if there had been a significant impact. The survey was sent to members of the Fundraising Institute of New Zealand. Fifty four responses were received.

The survey results suggest 71% of the survey respondents made changes to their fundraising plans post-earthquake. The decisions to change fundraising plans were mainly prompted by the Fundraising Department, Board and Management. Donor views were not a major influence; only two responses cite donor feedback as a reason for changing plans.

Direct mail programmes and event based fundraising were the most affected, either by cancellation or postponement. 36.7% postponed their Direct Mail programme to existing donors, whilst 27.8% cancelled the programme altogether. 16.7% cancelled a Direct Mail to non-donors and 13.3% postponed theirs. Event based fundraising was the most affected with 38.9% cancelling and 26.7% postponing a planned event. Based on these changes, it was interesting to note the estimated impact on the annual income of charities. 15% stated that they did not anticipate any loss of income. 33% estimated that they would lose up to 5% of their annual income. 15.4% expect a reduction of 5% – 10% and 20.5% believe that their annual income will reduce by 10% – 20%.” 

An insight from the report is that “Donors don’t stop caring about causes that matter to them, even in the event of a disaster. Organisations are urged to continue to engage and communicate with their donors and supporters, telling them about the urgent needs of those they help and important services they provide in our communities … because donors still care.”

It’s important for charities to communicate with their donors, to let them know how important their support is – it’s also important that charities are transparent, that they show how and where funds are used, all of this will help ensure supporters continue to support.

Download the report “Impact of Christchurch Earthquake on NZ Charities” for more insight.




Are you blogging?


Blogging is a great way to keep in touch with the community, to share thoughts, ideas and tell the stories of the work you’re doing. 

Some look on blogging as something that’s too hard to do, too hard to come up with ideas and too time consuming – it can be, but it needn’t be. 

Let’s look at some of the benefits of blogging for your charity.

Blogs help you to get quick, timely news out to your supporters and wider community

Blog posts need not take hours to prepare, typically I spend about 30 minutes to an hour preparing my posts; whereas newsletters or other forms of communicating with your audience can take a lot longer. 

What you share on your blog needn’t be only about what you’re doing, blogging allows you to share news, information and other titbits about your sector. 

Blogging is the (almost) pain free way to stay in touch. 

Give readers multiple ways of subscribing, email, rss – look at using services like Feedblitz or Feedburner Email to allow subscribing by email.

You can further build trust with your supporters through your blog 

Blogging allows you to be personable with your supporters, more often than not supporters can see any charity as faceless, a blog can help break down barriers. 

It’s good to be ‘human’ and let you’re personality come through the blog.  Being human with your blog will allow conversations through comments … remember to build relationships, you have to have conversations. 

Some charities have a fear of negative comments, Don’t. Any comment gives you the opportunity to ‘talk’, to explain and clear up any misgivings, any misunderstandings and so much more. 

Be seen and heard – Reach more people

How often do you have to see something to remember it? More than once no doubt, the same can be true with blogs, and the best way to reach more people, to be seen and heard is to share your blog though as many channels as you can. 

Some suggestions would be to:

  • Include an excerpt in your e-newsletter, with a click through to the original post
  • Share links to your blog through Twitter, FaceBook,
  • Encourage your readers, supporters and others who receive your blog to forward it to people they feel would be interested 

Note: If you’re sharing your blog on social networks – FaceBook, Twitter, Digg etc, it could pay to post notifications to the new post multiple times. If you do approach if differently each time. When you tweet a link to the post the first time use the title of the post, later share it using an interesting fact or “pull quote” with the link.

Blogs can make life easy

What? I hear you ask. Simple, once you’ve been blogging for a while you will notice that you’ll have content that you can use in other forms of communication; your own newsletters, content for ‘sector’ newsletters. 

Media coverage/interest can be gained

We all do it, we sit and hope, fingers cross that a reporter will be interested and cover a story about the work we do.- blogs can help create your own coverage. 

There’s been plenty of instances where people have used a blog to cover an event, or something happening in the community. If it’s covered well and often enough it can eventually gain attention from media. 

Don’t forget that reporters and journalists use the internet to search out experts, references to subjects – so, if you write on the same topics repeatedly the chances are that when a reporter searches your issue, your posts may appear in search results.

Don’t thing of your blogs as another chore – they can be fun

Don’t think of your blog as another ‘job’ that has to be done, see it as an extension, as a tool in your communications arsenal.Some people decide they want to blob, but then palm the work off to someone who may not have the same passion, understanding or general interest in the sector; don’t fall into this trap. 

Do it yourself, or get someone, or a number of people to do your blogging – most of all have people who can communicate well, enjoy researching and writing.

If you have patrons and ambassadors invite them to be a guest blogger, to talk about why they’re involved. 

There’s also value in having some of the people you help contribute to articles, they can share their stories. 

What are you waiting for? Your blog won’t start itself, start thinking about your blog and how beneficial it can be to your charity. 

If you’re already blogging, how has it been for you, what have the results been?