Online Fundraising, Impact on Traditional Fundraising

Has, and can, online fundraising have impact on other, more traditional fundraising?

From my perspective, yes it can have an impact; I’ve seen first-hand organisations who have had to change their fundraising methods, dates and more because people are giving in other ways to different causes.

It’s interesting that I started thinking about this late last night and, this morning I wake to see this subject in an article in the NZHeraldIs it safe to give a little?

“Kiwis give millions of dollars to causes on the fundraising website Givealittle. But money handed back by the charity platform from one controversial appeal has raised concerns over whether the online model is open to abuse. Phil Taylor reports ..

Some areas Phil has touched on are the same as I had started penning, so instead of rehashing what he’s said, here’s some excerpts from his article.

“Internet crowdsourcing is changing the face of philanthropy. Platforms such as US-based GoFundMe and New Zealand’s Givealittle super-charge the amount that can be raised, no more so than for causes that pull heartstrings. If mainstream media picks up a cause, a zero or so might be added.”

“Causes that top the lists for dollars donated and number of donors are all from the past 12 months and reflect the sector’s exponential growth worldwide. More than half of the $32 million given to Givealittle causes in its lifetime was donated in the past year. When teleco giant Spark bought it in late 2012, it was doing about $55,000 a month. Last month it did $2 million.”

Read Phil’s full article here

See also 6 Fundraising Platforms That Have Disrupted Charitable Giving Forever

See also Digging deep for Kiwi generosity

Fundraising Manners

Fundraising can be hard enough without your fundraisers alienated themselves from the very people they’re trying to gain support from.

How often have you come across a fundraiser, either face-to-face or over the phone who has talked at you – not with you, has cut you short when you’re speaking, or perhaps just don’t seem interested in any dialogue – they’re just going through the motions?

It would appear that this happens all to often; why, there’s no need for it, it all comes down to selecting the right people to “front” your organisation, the right and timely coaching and training and, then it’s up to you to monitor how they are doing.

If you’re organisation undertakes tele-fundraising, do you have the ability to either listen into calls while they’re happening or to listen to recorded calls? Are you reviewing calls with those on the phones?

Doing face-to-face fundraising, do you have people who can act as “mystery shoppers” – people who can listen to what the fundraiser is saying, their actions, manners – it’s worth getting some “unknowns” to monitor on your behalf.

It’s vital that you know what your fundraisers are saying, how they’re interacted and most importantly – how they are representing your organisation.

It only takes a few disgruntled people to start talking openly about their experience with your organisation to cast doubt in the minds of others. They could be thinking – if that’s how those on the “front line” – they’re quite possibly the only people supporters have regular contact with – any bad experiences can quickly turn support off.

You owe it to your supporters and your organisation to be monitoring your fundraisers, even where you’re using an external agency you need to have monitoring in place.

If you support and organisation, what are your experiences and expectation of fundraisers?

Tele-Fundraising isn’t Dead

Tele-Fundraising isn’t Dead

Recently I’ve heard people say “fundraising on the phone is irrelevant” “tele-fundraising isn’t needed today.”

Tele-fundraising is still relevant and is needed today, it should be part of your fundraising plan, it is also, or should be seen as a way to measure what people think about your organisation.

This article 3 Ways Fundraisers Can Leverage Telemarketing is a good read, if you are doubting the effectiveness, relevance of fundraising it will help you see that it still has a place in your fundraising arsenal.

If you only read the 3 ways the tele-fundraising can be used – do it …

  1. Message matters. Telemarketing is made for urgency. Nothing says “this is really important right now” quite like calling someone and saying those very words. Be specific, be timely and update the script as many times as it takes to keep the pitch as urgent as possible.
  2. Listen to the donors. A phone call can be a mini-focus group, giving an organization the opportunity to make the message work in the most compelling way possible. Take what you learn on the phone and apply it to other channels.
  3. No channel is an island. The value of telemarketing goes beyond the revenue raised on the phone. Receiving a phone call increases a donor’s likelihood to give a gift via mail or online by 20 percent over the next 30 days, even if the call results in a refusal. Bolster a call’s performance by integrating a pre-call email or a post-call pledge follow-up, making the approach truly multichannel.


Are there other ways you see tele-fundraising as beneficial to your organisation – please share in comments below.

See also:

ASKphobia – A Great Term

It’s not you they’re turning down

Tele-fundraising Tips

Fundraisng – Planning is Needed

Why you suck at fundraising


ASKphobia – A Great Term

When I first started out in fundraising, I wasn’t always comfortable making the “ask”. I was afraid of being turned down, and sometimes questioned the amount I was endeavouring to ask for.

Why – I guess in those days you could say I was Ask-phobic. I was afraid of the “no’s” and couldn’t understand how people could have the sums I was intended to ask for.

Somehow, one day I shook the fears I had and asked. Sure I was rejected, but at least I was asking, and the more asks got me more “yes’s”

This article on 101Fundraising is a must read if you’re involved in any level of fundraising.

The tips offered are great, and are the types I offer when coaching people in fundraising.

Read ASKphobia: How to Overcome Ask Aversion and see what you think, can you add any more tips to help people with an ask aversion?

See also:

It’s not you they’re turning down

Tele-fundraising Tips

Fundraisng – Planning is Needed

Why you suck at fundraising

PMS – Post Mortem Syndrome

We all have either suffered from it, or know of people particularly those doing tele-fundraising who suffer from it.

These are the ones who after almost every call sit back and ponder the outcome of it and, more often than not the calls that they post mortem are those that weren’t successful.

How much productive calling time is lost as a result of this? It’s likely that the time lost would be extremely high, imagine if each ‘agent’ spent 30 minutes in each ‘shift’ doing this – now imagine if there’s 10, 20, 30 agents doing it – that’s one heck of a lot of time – lost.

Why is it that tele-fundraisers spend time pondering the outcome of the calls that weren’t successful? There could be some positive reasons for this, however, it is more likely that they were looking at this in a negative fashion,  lost opportunity; and unfortunately this builds a negative frame of mind for them, with this being carried onto subsequent calls.

We can understand looking at the outcome of positive result calls, as there are often things that happened in that call that can be noted and used in future calls.

Perhaps it was their attitude, maybe they were more positive, had a clearer understanding of the outcome they wanted from the call.

Of course it could be that the person being contacted was in a better frame of mind, more receptive to the request for support.

Tele-fundraisers will have also picked up some positives from the “presentation” they gave, knowledge of the cause they were calling about, all of this helps build for a more productive, positive outcome for future calls.

On the flip-side – reflecting on the negative aspects of ‘failed’ calls only reinforces this, and this is a problem as it reinforces negative influences.

Reinforce the positives – shelve away the negatives unless there’s something that can be done next time to change the outcome.

See also:

Can Social Media Lessen the Negative Impact of Telephone Appeals

Making the Call – Tele-fundraising

Do it once, do it right – Planning your telephone campaign

Pick up that phone 

Donor Management

If your organization employs a telemarketing or similar team to raise funds, how do you do this?

Most organization who do this simply have a team of telemarketers, commonly referred to as tele-fundraisers, who are responsible for engaging with supporters, current and potential, in order to gain funds.

The general public, those who receive these calls, find them a nuisance especially when the come at dinner time; however for an organization they can be extremely cost effective and help raise funds in a quick manner.

However, for organizations doing this type of fundraising there can be a drawback – that being that there is often no long term rapport building opportunity between fundraiser and donor.

Having rapport with your donors can make a big difference, donors may know your organization, they may know what you do and the impact you’re making – but often it’s the person they have familiarity with, those they have a rapport with who can make or break ongoing support.

How can this be managed?

If you’re involved in tele-fundraising, and your staff are “served” numbers, not know who they are going to be talk to until the phone line is live, there’s little chance for staff to gather information to be able to ensure any relationship is maintained.

Donor nurturing can suffer, and it’s this area where another way of managing calls perhaps should be looked at.

If a call management system is being used, there is usually a way that calls can be directed to specific ‘agents’ – in doing this the possibility is there for the same agent to be the one who speaks with specific donors. The outcome, rapport is developed, relationships are nurtured and donors have more sense of trust with the organization.

Sure, there will be resistance, but this can be managed, what is more important having engaged donors or having ‘agents’ (and management) who are reluctant to change?

It’s now time to stop thinking in simplistic terms of getting funding – now, today, this week, and instead to look at the lifetime value of donors.

Change your thinking for “this call” to “account (donor) management” and you could find yourself with a happy donor, and a happier fundraiser.

What have you got to loose – when will you start looking at making the change, today, tomorrow – no time is too soon. As Nike says “Just do it.”

Number Withheld

It’s dinner time, you’re sitting at the dining table enjoying a tasty morsel, catching up on what your family has bee doing during the day – the suddenly you’re interrupted by the shrill sou d of your phone ringing.

Racing to get it, you trip over the cat, almost collide with the door frame – on reaching the phone you see that the number is withheld, not knowing who it is causes a mild panic. Is it a call from the hospital to say your ailing mother needs you?

Picking it up, the caller says “Good evening this is Marsha from XYZ, how are you today?” – What – I’ve just stubbed my toe, stepped on the cat and panicked thinking this was a call about my mother, and you ask how I am, what do you want.

The caller proceeds to explain the needs of the organizations she’s calling about, you’re mind is elsewhere – do you really care? In all probability not, sure you care about others, but right now your mind is elsewhere.

You ask if she can call back or if you can call her, only to be told she’s busy and will try you another time – when, at dinner tomorrow night most likely.

Ok, we’ve probably all had the calls, we may have even made them to raise awareness of our organization – but, here’s the question asked by many – why do charity calls all tend to have a withheld number? Don’t they want people to be able to make a note of the number and call them back, or is it to hide so as not to get irate homeowners calling to voice their disapproval a being disturbed

How many people do organizations miss out in talking to simply because no number is displayed? I’d suggest quite a high number as many people I’ve spoken with don’t answer their phone if there’s no number displayed.

Imagine if an organization got to take to 100 more people simply because their number was displayed, if only twenty percent of these said ‘yes’ the organization in need of support would have the potential to grow and further assist those it is set up to assist.

If your organization runs telephone campaigns does your phone system allow your number to be displayed

Does your organization hide its phone number/s – if so why?

As a homeowner do you answer calls where numbers are withheld – why?

What’s your general view on dinner time charity calls, are they intrusive, poorly timed?

Would you like the ability to have a call at a time convenient to yourself?

I’d appreciate your comments on charity calls – not just around the issue of withheld numbers, bad timing, frequency, etc. Please leave a comment below.


You’re an interruption

How often do you get the feeling people just “aren’t into you” – daily I’d guess, maybe it’s because they see you for what you are – an interruption.

As Katya says in Remember you are an interruption  “No one is sitting around with nothing to do, just waiting for our email or letter or ad.  They are busy.”   And it’s so true.

Often when talking with organizations I hear things like “we didn’t get the response we would expect” “we haven’t had the click throughs to our site we thought we’d get” “we haven’t gained anything from our last email” – it doesn’t take a scientist to work out why – it’s simple – you’re an interruption, no one is sitting waiting for you, they’re busy doing other things.

When I coach people in tele-fundraising I always suggest that they say “I hope I haven’t caught you at a bad time … “ there’s a reason for this, anytime can be a bad time, but more than that, it leaves the door open for you to make another attempt. The same unfortunately can’t be said when using email or other communications means.

Set goals for your email and other campaigns, but be realistic – you’re not going to get a massive response unless people are expecting your communication, your email or other message, but you will get a response.

Something I suggest when organizations are doing an email campaign is to make sure it goes at a time you know recipients won’t be tied up with other things. Mondays are generally not too good, nor are Wednesdays – and forget Friday.

Also, remember to ask recipients if they’d could forward your message, plea for money or whatever else it is you’re send – to forward it to others they may feel would be interested, who knows someone may send it onto someone who if looking for an organization just like your to support.

Set goals – have a plan, and ask for help – don’t just send and cross your fingers, have a follow up planned, not the same week unless it’s really urgent, you don’t want to come across as being pushy.

And, remember to put yourself in the shoes of the people who are receiving your messages, would you like your message? 

Pitch it and Zip It!

When asking for a donation know what you want, why it’s wanted and the positive impact the donation will be to those receiving it.

A while ago I wrote ‘How much is needed’ in it I said:

‘When asking for money, it’s generally accepted that if you ask for specific amounts, offer suggestions on giving levels organisations can have a better ‘return’ than those who simply ask for ‘support’. 

$20             will give a child school lunches for x
$50             will allow a child to attend school activities for x
$100           will give a child school books for x

When people can see that their donation is “earmarked” for a specific purpose they’re more inclined to give – they can “see” a result, a benefit.

In reality it’s only part of it – knowing when to ‘shut up’ is important too.

Using the ‘pitch it and zip it’ approach will help ‘close’ the donation request.

Asking for a donation is no different to someone in sales asking for the sale – options are given, price is given, then any salesperson with experience will zip their lips and wait for the customer to make comment.

The first person who speaks after the ‘offer’ is given generally loses the ‘sale’.

It’s no different when requesting a donation, ask for the amount you want and ‘zip it’, wait for the person you’re talking to speak, they’ll either say that’s too much, or I can’t afford that, both signals that they could give but the amount asked for is too high for them, they’re not saying they won’t give. You still have the opportunity to ask for a lesser amount.

When asking for a donation it often pays to start high and come down, you can’t ask for $20 then when the person says yes increase the amount asked for. But if you ask for $100.00 and they say it’s too much you can come down – but don’t come down too quickly, they’ll tell you what they can give.

So next time you ask for a donation, paint a picture, tell the person you’re talking to how important their donation is, then ask for an amount – then ZIP IT.

Telephone Fundraising – Rude People

When doing telephone fundraising coaching I often hear stories about how rude people can be to the fundraisers. Here’s food for thought when dealing with rude people.

1. They feel safe because you can’t get at them

2. They’re trying to impress someone in their room who is listening

The best advice is to shrug your shoulders, feel sorry for them, then move on to the next call.

There are lots of nice, caring people out there.

You just have to find them.