I regularly contribute to my Social Media Series where I write about the benefits of integrating digital marketing and social media into nonprofit fundraising and engagement plans. Certainly the communication channels that have emerged in recent years have added choices to how nonprofits can interact with its supporters. However it’s important for nonprofits to not only follow the latest trends but strategically layer its outreach initiatives using both new and traditional channels.
Traditionally telephone, mail and in-person outreach methods were used and they can still be incorporated into current marketing and social media plans. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to focus on telephone fundraising and engagement outreach as mail and face-to-face are not always fitting or possible. There are many ways that the telephone can be utilized that go beyond the traditional fundraising “ask” and the following are examples of strategies that can be used for effective long-term fundraising and supporter engagement:
Welcome/Thank you – Following up a donation made by a new supporter with a welcome or thank you call adds to the legitimacy of the transaction and reinforces the trust and integrity of the organization.
Verification – A call to verify the accuracy of the information collected or to capture critical information including email addresses and cell phone number not only strengthens a donor database but can also open other channels of communication. Confirming contact preferences gives your donor the power to decide which makes them feel appreciated and valued.
Upgrade – Moving a higher one-time/annual donor to a monthly contributor will help the nonprofit in the long run. Ideally the starting point for an upgrade call can be 100% of the donor’s current annual contribution. However, factors such as the donors demographic should be taken into consideration, to ensure that the upgrade remains within the donors reach.
Reactivation – There are many reasons that cause donors to lapse in their support but confirming the reason for the lapse and offering an appropriate downgraded amount might help sustain the supporter during a trying time. This creates an opportunity for the contribution to increase when circumstances improve and builds on the loyalty of the relationship.
Legacy Fundraising – Contacting current supporters and engaging them in a legacy campaign can be very successful, particularly as a follow-up to an email, mail, newsletter or online introduction to the campaign. Often supporters need to be informed of options that are available to them and a follow-up call can open the door to a personal visit that may lead to the donor leaving a legacy to your cause.
Referrals – New donors can help with developing your prospect list if you ask them for referrals of family members and/or friends that would be interested in supporting your cause or organization too.
Ultimately, by reaching out to supporters by telephone you are creating a two-way dialogue that continues the e-conversation and will help establish and extend the longevity of the donor/nonprofit relationship. But in doing so, reaching out on a timely basis 2-3 weeks from when a new donor’s gift is received and bi-annually thereafter will continually keep your organization at the forefront of your supporters mind. Three other tactics to consider in your telephone fundraising or engagement plans are: i) do not always include an ‘ask’ or upgrade in every telephone communication; ii) follow up telephone communication with a thank you piece, either by text, email or regular mail; and iii) dedicate an inbound donor’s phone line with extended service hours for return calls or questions to build on the trustworthiness of the nonprofit and make donors feel more confident to give or to capture more information. A donor’s phone line can also help convert a general inquiry into a donation call.
The telephone has certainly evolved over time but it can still be used creatively as one of the layers of communication in any marketing plan to generate more personalized results especially when integrated strategically with newer channels such as digital marketing and social media. How else do you use the telephone to successfully engage your donors?