We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak

After reading 10 TRAITS OF TERRIBLE MAJOR AND LEGACY GIFT FUNDRAISERS and seeing some comments, with one in particular referring to the show up and throw up fundraiser, it reminded me on a couple of “professional” fundraisers I have met.

Their modus operandi was to make an appointment with a potential supporter and talk the whole way through the meeting, the wouldn’t give the person they were speaking with the opportunity to talk.

They also forgot the old expression “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak” – yes, they really did like the sound of their own voice.

Often when speaking with them about why they weren’t gaining support, they would say that they had no idea why people weren’t attracted to the organisation; after all they had talked about the successes of the organisation, how it was meeting goals, how important the staff were. But, they didn’t talk about the beneficiaries of the organisation, nor did they talk about current supporters and how they gained from being associated with the organisation.

I recall helping some organisations gain new major sponsors in a nice simple way. We invited some current major sponsors and some we were trying to woo to meet with us. All we did was give an update as to what we had been doing, some of our successes. Then we invited the current sponsors to talk about why they were supportive, what they were doing and let them answer any questions the prospective sponsors had.

At the end of the meeting, two of the prospective sponsors pulled out their cheques books and signed up, the third did the same a few days later.

You don’t have to be the one doing all the talking, actually you should be keeping your mouth shut as much as possible, let the prospects ask questions, and if you can get current supporters to pitch for you.

It works, why not give it a shot.

And, remember – less is more.

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak”

Are you ready to change?

To see organisations doing the same thing day in day out to gain funding can be frustrating. Especially when you know they could do better and more if they adapted their fundraising methods.

If you keep doing the same thing and getting the same results, why bother repeating the action, it’s pointless, a waste of time and resources.

Organisations need to adapt.

If your direct mail campaign isn’t working as well as expected, adapt it, hopefully you have done a “market test” before launching the campaign and have allowed for tweaks.

If your telephone campaign isn’t working, why? The people making the calls will have market intelligence that they should be encouraged to share. Is it that they’re calling the wrong area, has something happened that’s drawing donors away (a disaster, humanitarian crisis).

Has you email campaign not gained the hits you would have expected? Again, did you test the campaign with a sample of your database before hitting send to your entire database?

It’s important that all campaigns are tested, not just internally, but more so externally. It’s your market that matters, not only what you and your team think.

How much time and effort are you putting into campaigns that could go belly up if you’ve got it wrong?
Be ready to adapt, have something up your sleeve “just in case”.

Be ready to change the subject line of your email campaign if you’re not getting the hits you would expect.

Likewise, be prepared to send the email at different times/days. And, yes, keep records of what does and doesn’t work.

If your phone campaign isn’t hitting the mark, is it the time you’re calling, change your calling times. And, as much as people hate it, don’t forget Saturdays can be a great calling day.

Before you hit go on any campaign, have an alternative plan, be ready, be adaptable and monitor, monitor, monitor.

Be ready to change, to adapt to any situation, perhaps even end your campaign early if need be.

When someone supports give a quick call and ask them why they have supported – yes thank them too.

Perhaps you have a supporter who has donated previously, but not on this occasion; give them a call and ask why.

This type of intelligence gathering is important, and should be done every campaign, no matter what.

So, in the planning sessions you have for your next campaign, allow for people to call delinquent donors and ask why, and call new donors too (you should be doing this anyway), and thank them, but find out why they are supporting.

Good luck out there, remember there’s lots of competition for the charity dollar.

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

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.


Making the Call – Tele-fundraising


Making the Call

Call Preparation

Being mentally prepared and focused before you begin any call can make a huge difference to your results.

You need to know what you are aiming to achieve during the call – what is your target?

Before you begin dialing, always check your road map (script). It’s your guide and pathway to a successful call.

Then, just as you’ve got it all going on… just before you pick up the phone … consider these quick call preparation thoughts:

What would it be like to get a call from me?

I’m going to make this presentation sound as though it’s just for them. I’m going to keep it fresh, enthusiastic and original.

Remember … the prospect has feelings too! Make time to listen during the call!

It’s about winning them over. Would I buy from me? How do I sound to them?

When I pick up the phone … out there … is a whole group of people who will welcome my call … they’ll listen, get interested and when I make a good presentation and then close the call. This group of people I’m calling always will say “yes” to me! They’re out there all right, I just gotta find them … that’s all!



Tele-fundraising Tips

Tele-fundraising can be an effective way to gain support and of course donations for an organization, handled right your tele-fundraisers can gain considerable support.

Here’s some tips that will help your team ensure every call made is effective and result in support for your organization:

Set yourself a target – have your own target for how many calls you will make, and what your volume of donations you’re aiming for

Personalise your script – if there’s words in the script you’re given that you wouldn’t normally use they will come across in your voice, personalise and you will have more success

Don’t post mortem calls – the call has gone, get over it and move onto the next one

Know what you want from the call – if you don’t know what you want don’t bother picking up the phone

Smile before you dial – smiles do come across on the phone

Ask for the donation – you won’t get anything unless you ask with confidence, and commitment 

Pitch it and zip – ask for the donation, then zip your lips – don’t talk yourself out of the donation 

Have the answers to common questions at the ready – if you hesitate in answering questions you could miss out on gaining the donation

Celebrate every NO you get – every no is getting you closer to a YES

Don’t prejudge the call – you have no idea who is at the other end of the phone and what they maybe able to give

It’s not you they’re saying no to – don’t take rejection personally, they’re saying no to the cause or the donation request NOT YOU

Don’t ask people how they are unless you have a relationship with them – people know you don’t rally care.

Outbound Telephone Campaigns

Do you manage your calling cycles around events taking place in your community?

Do you collate a calendar of “usual” events taking place? 

Anyone doing outbound calls, membership drives, fundraising or sales calls should be monitoring what else is taking pace that could have an impact on the “call outcome”. 

If there’s a major event on TV this will impact on how your call is received, it’s hard enough to get a good reception, don’t make it harder by calling when people are at their most distracted. 

By collecting, or sourcing a calendar of events, outbound telephone campaigns can be scheduled at a time most likely to have a better, more positive impact. 

You could programme your calling around a TV documentary scheduled that covers something aligned to the work you do in the community. This would give you a “lead in” to the call, or give something as a reference point when talking to people. 

Remember too to alert people that you’re going to do a telephone campaign. Talk about it in your updates to your supporters. 

Don’t forget to update your website to let people know you are doing a campaign, update your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other online social channels. 

Spread the word, people will then have a heads up and will likely have recall of your updates when you call. 

Build a calendar of events, keep it updated your campaign is likely to benefit from doing this. 

Is what you’re doing news worthy -tell the media. The more people know about what you’re doing, they better all round. 

Do you have tips on managing a fundraising telephone campaign that you can share, post them in the comments below.


Telephone Campaigns



With the number of businesses continuing to do telemarketing – sales calls, appointment setting, to both households and businesses, some are tiring of the endless calls.


Are your donors being hounded by pushy sales calls? Chances are they are. Are you panning or doing any telephone appeals? What reaction are you getting to your requests for money?


It’s important to measure your calling campaigns, just adding up the pledges isn’t enough. You need to know how many people you called, personal info (age, occupation etc), also you want to know who hasn’t given and why.


Knowing why they haven’t given is important, was it the wrong time, did they have a change in personal circumstances? All of this can help you plan for future campaigns.

There’s things we can do to help telemarketing campaigns – including using social media to aid campaigns.

Charities could look at moving away from straight appeal telephone campaigns to telephone campaigns to “thank you” campaigns. These are calls that are made to thank donors for their support, it also is a good way (and time) to cleanse the database.

I’ll repeat what Laura Worcester says in Phone-a-thons: Extinct or Re-Purposed?  with this quote “So, before you decide to do away with your calling programs, consider your goals and demographics.  Calling can still be a very effective tool.  It may just be playing a different role (stewardship) in the donor cycle.  And, be sure to carefully target the right demographic for the calls. There’s a lot of good will that can be achieved by having an energetic representative from your organization reaching out and just saying, “Thanks”.  Give it a try—you might be surprised at what you might gain.”

Don’t put the phone down, pick it – use it right and you’ll benefit.


Pick up that phone

After reading Phone first! On 101Fundraising, I got to thinking about how many missed opportunities for funding/sponsorship I’ve witnessed – simply because someone was – too lazy – to pick up the phone.  

That phone call is like gardening, it allows you to plant the seed; to learn something about the person/organisation you’re calling, it also gives you the opportunity to get the ‘permission’ to send more information, or arrange a meeting to advance your cause.  

All too often we hear about organizations seeking support making their first contact via email or letter, this does nothing but add to the requests that the receiver has likely had already. 

By simply picking up the phone and talking about your organization, what you do and how the person you’re talking to can help will get you a lot further than any unsolicited mail. 

Even if you’ve been referred to the potential supporter, you are still better off picking up the phone and making a call. The ice has already been broken through the referral and you can use this as your ‘opener’. 

If you’re unsure about how you can and should use the phone, there’s some great advice in Phone first!, if you’re looking for support for your organisation, the tips and advice could make all the difference. 

A good way to also learn about good use of the telephone when seeking support is to take note of calls you may receive, there’s bound to be some callers who techniques catch your attention – use some of what you learn from these calls to improve your own. 

Share your thoughts, comments: 

Are you using the phone?

 How are you using the phone?

What’s working for you?