Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Overcoming Objections

Telephone Fundraising would be much easier if everyone you called said yes, but in the real world, nine out of ten people on a campaign may reject you outright. The key to converting a small percentage of those no's to yes's is understanding why the donor is saying no to you. some of the more common objections and the ways to get beyond them are listed below.

Donor has no time to take a call. In x

More to come later....

Saturday, December 15, 2007

This call is being recorded for quality.

Call center technology is constantly improving. Most modern call-centers record at least some portion of the conversations they initiate. Who listens to these recordings. And what eventually happens to them?

What does this mean for charitable solicitations?

A typical call for me starts something like this;

Me: Hello I'm Henry calling from XXX organization on behalf of the Save the Giant Sequoia Tree foundation. Hows it going today Mr X?

Mr X: Fine, how are you today?

Me; I'm good thanks for asking, not a lot of people do. (this gets a chuckle as often as not, and its true.)

Me: Mr X, I'm going to try to keep things quick today but first I do need to know that this call could be monitored and is recorded for my quality.

Mr X: Ah go ahead the damn government is recording everything we say anyway....

Conversations can go into anywhere from a mild rant against the Bush administration to an all out call for violence made in jest, typical stuff you might hear on The Bill Mahr show. But what the Donor may not realize is that that conversation doesn't necessarily go away, ever.

Ive done fundraising for organizations like the Democratic National Committee, The A.C.L.U and the Human Rights Campaign. At the start of each call we inform donors that their call could be recorded to ensure quality control.

A.C.L.U donors are the most likely to hang up the phone at that point caring too much about their right to privacy to allow themselves to be recorded.

But what about the callers who don't hang up? Ive spoken to extremely opinionated people who
have pulled no punches when it come to their opinion on the current presidential administration, the war on terror, and other highly charged issued.

Politicians have been cursed threats have been made as well as off color jokes.

Could this information be used against a person?

With the warrant-less wiretapping that we know is going on in this country,how smart is it for organizations to save recordings of people?

Donors tend to say anything to an anonymous fundraiser on over the phone. But is it really anonymous. Do the donors have a right to know what becomes of their voice recordings.

I think that call-centers, especially in the fundraising industry, should have a published policy on what they will and will not do with Donor's information, including voice recordings.

Technology and political realities have raced beyond past practices. Its time for call-centers to catch up.

What I can tell you as a professional fundraiser is that.

  • You have the right to end the conversation at any time, although I and your organization wish you wouldn't.
  • You have the right to request more information about where I'm calling from and what my particular call-center will do with any of your information, including recordings of your voice. ( If your the curious type this might be fun to do anyway)
  • The Front-line people who call you, me, have no control over when or why you are called; its all done by computer.
  • The national no call-list has little bearing on non-profits, or their agents, (me). Call-centers that do fundraising have their own internal do-not-call lists; ask to be on it and we are obligated to put you on it. You should also let your charities know, by phone, or in writing, that you don't want to be called, or to have your name sold or traded to other organizations.
  • Reputable fundraisers charge a flat fee per call. Yes or no, we get the same amount for making the call. It doesn't have to be this way however, Some fundraising agents can keep 80% (or more!) of the revenue a solicitation campaign generates. You have the right to know just what those percentages are; if the person you are speaking to doesn't know, ask for a supervisor.
  • Some states also have laws that obligate fundraising groups to send a written copy of this information to any donor that asks, you'll need to contact your attorney general's office to see if your state is one.
  • Last note; Federal law prohibits us from recording your credit card information, this is the one part of the call that isn't recorded.

I hope this quick rundown of the issues stirs some discussion. Ill follow up with more on telephone fundraising in the coming days.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

10 Best Fundraising Tips.

I asked some of the best fundraisers I know for their ten best fundraising tips.

Here, edited lightly for clarity, are their answers.

  1. Don’t preach to active supporters.
  2. Express gratitude for what they have already done.
  3. No more than two reasons why they should give now.
  4. Ask for the money at the same time as giving the reasons the money should be given.
  5. Read the daily paper and see if a current event fits the campaign.
  6. Smile while speaking.
  7. Shower before work.
  8. Wear deodorant.
  9. Speak clearly.
  10. Have an attitude (positive or otherwise).
  11. Keep a sense of humor.
  12. Remember; people can hear a smile over the phone.
  13. Keep control of the conversation.
  14. Keep passion in your voice.
  15. Make sure you’re earning money for yourself.
  16. Get to the point.
  17. Talk to more people, not less.
  18. Ask high, to get low.
  19. Sound interested.
  20. Talk fast but clear.
  21. Have thick skin.
  22. Do what the donor says.
  23. Be polite –always.
  24. Be persistent -especially on a tough call.
  25. Have a book.
  26. Try to be courteous.
  27. Have rebuttals always.
  28. Try not to pressure too much; make the donor understand the urgency.
  29. Try to speak as clearly as possible.
  30. Try to build a bond; something that you and the donor have in common. A general rapport.
  31. Pitch 3x MRC for sure – you will get some of them.
  32. Listen, listen, listen.
  33. Always do a credit card ask.
  34. Control the call.
  35. Give 100% on all calls.
  36. NOLITE TE BASTARDES CARBORUNDUM “Don’t let the bastards get you down” FUNK is your #1 enemy. When you feel frustrated about a call, take a brief break, drink some water, but stick with it. Things can turn around when you least expect it. But know that your voice carries your frustration. Use your best efforts to remain positive.
  37. Ask advice from other callers on what is working. Focus on what you can do.
  38. Speak clearly and politely.
  39. Ask High. You never know who you are talking to and if you frame it correctly, you will 90% of the time not cause offense.
  40. Strategize- The same approach does not work on all calls. Be adaptable- You might have a set way of doing things, but if it isint working and making you $, what’s the point?
  41. Stay informed- watch/listen to/read the news. Make use of background info provided.
  42. Communicate (A) You are the organization you are calling for as far as the donor is concerned gather information when you build rapport and re-deploy that information later to create a sense of community. i.e. “ I was talking to such and so in y, and they really put a great effort on there during the last election, but we still have a long way to go.”
  43. Communicate (B) Inform managers of problems, concerns, and positive results/ changes. When meeting to strategize on a campaign, be forthcoming with suggestions. Management is making a concerted effort to gather information and and to be adaptable- your contribution is appreciated.
  44. Don’t rob yourself by asking for low $ or not asking for credit cards or spending as much time as you can off the phone. Its harder to make bonus levels and argue for improvements that way- work from a position of strength.
  45. Relax.
  46. When talking to a donor, try to “model” the way he or she speaks (New Yorkers speak faster and more brusquely- southerners speak slowly and softly.) People are more comfortable with people whose speech patterns are familiar to theirs. It helps to build trust and rapport.
  47. Always be energetic and urgent on the phone- if it weren’t important we wouldn’t be on the phone!
  48. Pick an issue in the script that resonates with you so you can speak confidently about it.
  49. Listening is as important as talking. You can get a lot of clues from what someone says, and how they say it, about how to approach them.
  50. Make your initial pitch less than twenty seconds.
  51. Ask the donor for double their previous gift.
  52. If donor info lists Mr and Mrs, ask for only one of them, the one you’re talking too.
  53. when given an objection, reflect with sound reasoning; “I can understand that, however”.
  54. State two important/compelling points, then ask for the pledge.
  55. Don’t ask any questions to which the answer could be “no.”
  56. If donor sounds rude/upset from the start, get them off the phone.
  57. Modulate your voice at all times, keep it natural and conversational.
  58. When the donor is older, only ask/suggest a credit card donation one time.
  59. Make the donor laugh- always.
  60. Don’t pitch an answering machine.
  61. If donor says “I’m out the door”, don’t ask “Front door or back door?”
  62. When donor says “what do you want!” They’re not compiling your Christmas gift list.
  63. When a donor says (I’ll give) “$25.00” Don’t be insulting and say “What’s that? A symbolic gift of $1 each year for twenty five years…..”
  64. After confirmation never say “I gotta go…. The cops are here.”
  65. Ten tips you want? Just use each tip twice. ( go away- leave me alone!)
  66. Have a related bit of info at hand any time the conversation spins off-script. The donor who has something to say is a donor who knows what is at stake.
  67. Re: Script. It’s good to know you have one to go by….. Don’t read it AT your donor.
  68. Don’t be ashamed to ask high… If you give a good enough reason, you can ask for anything.
  69. Talk to your donor. Your body language finds its way into your tone… Sit up, breathe, smile, cry, jab at your monitor; anything to engage with that voice, name, MRC/HPC and address that you have on your screen… Even Slightly.
  70. Don’t ever make a call that you don’t care about. Not worth it.
  71. Have your standards…. Even if only to have something to fall short of.
  72. A good call is only a nice conversation between two people with a shared interest that happens to be about money.
  73. Always ask if a donor has a minute and how they are- use this info to determine strategy for the rest of the call.
  74. Integrate your credit card ask with your top ask and portray credit card (option) as a benefit for the donor.
  75. Never ask for less than 5x MRC- then when you negotiate down, you still have a shot at the triple upgrade.
  76. Plan your shift - know exactly how much you need to meet your financial goals and the most efficient way to get it on your campaign (e.g double goal + 5cc or triple goal + 3cc)
  77. Pay attention to your voice -deeper is more compelling.
  78. Never describe client goals with words that describe possible failure (“we’re trying to”; “we hope that”)- use definitive words instead (“we’re working to”; “we will…”)