Some call centers are very strict about fundraisers reading directly from a script. Other call centers advise fundraisers to stick to the script, but add additional details when the call requires these extras. Still other fundraising call centers allow fundraisers a great deal of freedom as long as the fundraiser stays within the general parameters of the fundraising campaign. Each strategy has its own merits, however there are some common elements that should be included in all fundraising calls.
Getting a foot in the door.
The first step in most calls is the greeting. Usually the fundraiser identifies their self and the group which they are calling on behalf of. This step should be gotten through quickly but not rushed. The realities of the campaign will dictate how the fundraiser proceeds with the introduction. In some cases the introduction can be delayed until after the a basic description of the organization and its funding need is made. Promise to be brief with your call and stick to this promise./
The next step is to thank the donor. Whether its a simple thank you for taking the call or a more elaborate thank you for past contributions and supporting the cause, this is an important step. Sincere and elaborate thank yous let the donor know that their help is appreciated. Thank yous also tend to extend the call; people rarely hang up on callers while the caller is praising their support and reaffirming their decision to support the cause. Additionally, the longer a donor stays on the phone, the more likely they are to make a contribution.
The reason for the call.
Next, quickly go into some of the current issues faced by the organization and what is being done about these issues. Don't skimp on the details but don't speak in a monotonous way either. Express some real interest in the cause. Listen for cues from the donor during this and all stages. If they agree with something you're saying; elaborate on the subject. Build rapport. Remember; men and women process information differently. Read other posts on this site to find out which language to use for each kind of donor. Alternatively, if the donor indicates that they're busy; acknowledge that. Repeat that you'll be brief or just get right into your first donation request.
Going for the donation.
The first ask. Given the reasons stated above make a solid ask for a minimum of 3 times highest past gift. Be assertive and let the donor respond. Don't laugh, don't whine. If the need is real, the request should be real as well. Defend your request if required to; don't just lower it. Defending the amount of the first ask gives instant credibility to the importance of the issue, In fact, state that the reason you're requesting a large donation is because of the serious nature of the issue, Only then begin to lower the amount that your'e requesting.
A second attempt.
The second ask. Quickly elaborate on the need. Acknowledge that the donor isn't able to give 3 times their highest past donation. Considering the need, ask for 2 times the past donation. Again defend your request. The more legitimate you sound, the more likely the donor is to give you money. For many fundraisers lowering ask amounts deteriorates into desperation. Although this is a negotiation the need is legitimates and as a fundraiser you want to get the highest possible donation,
One more try.
The third and, not necessarily, final ask, This is where the fundraiser asks the donor to meet the level of their last contribution. This is obviously the level that the donor has been comfortable giving at in the past. Again stress the need and elaborate on the potential consequences of not reaching an adequate level of funding for the campaign in question.
Taking no for an answer.
If stopping here, without securing a donation, take the time to sincerely thank the donor once more. This establishes that you, the fundraiser and the organization, respect the donor no matter what they can or cannot give at the moment. This also helps to reinforce an attitude of respect and gratitude which should be extended to all donors at all times.
The forth ask and so on.
Many times a donor who can't match a previous donation will express regret that they simply cant afford the same amount. If applicable, ask for an even lower amount down to the minimum level of donation that can be taken on a specific campaign. Remind the donor and yourself that every donation, no matter what size, counts. After all in most fundraising campaigns, the many small donations greatly out number the amount of money which is generated by the larger ones.
Get it on a credit card.
The credit card ask. Credit card donations fulfill instantly. There are no pledge cards to send out. Obviously securing a donation on a credit card is favorable to a mailed in pledge card. Credit cards on the phone are favorable to online donations as well; donors can easily be distracted and forget to make their donation.
Ease their mind.
Security is the main concern with credit card donations, Donors are rightfully fearful of identity theft. Every call center has methods in place to protect the credit card information of donors. Patiently explain these procedures as well as why credit card gifts are the best gifts that donors can make.
Be prepared to further explain the value of credit card donations and their secure nature. Many donors will give by credit card once they have been properly assured of security measures. If not, follow your organization's standard pledge card procedure.
Wrapping up the call.
Again, take the time to sincerely thank the donor for their help. Answer any additional questions and then politely end the call. Following this method on every call improves dollars raised as well as the quality of each outbound call.