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Fundraising body publishes telephone campaign guide for charities

A UK fundraising body has published a guide for charities to master telephone fundraising campaigns

Telephone fundraising is crucial to building on and strengthening the relationship with donors but must be done so appropriately or charities will lose support.

To aid charities in their telephone fundraising campaigns, the Institute of Fundraising (IoF) published ‘A Good Call: Using the Telephone for Successful Fundraising’ to help with developing stronger relationships with supporters to bring in more donations.

IoF Business Improvement Lead, Tamsin Mitchell, said: “Feedback from fundraisers shows that the telephone can be crucial to building and strengthening relationships with supporters – it allows for an individual conversation which can truly enhance a supporters’ experience and is a really important way to say ‘thank you’.”

The guide was released alongside a survey that found 85 per cent of charities using telephone campaigns did so for welcome calls, relationship-building and stewarding.

Nearly two-thirds of charities did not use the telephone for the purpose of acquiring new donors. The research also found the most cited reason for not using the telephone was lack of staffing resources, public perception and no access to data.

The guide’s messaging came in two parts for charities to take on board. It first offered advice on great conversations to have with supporters and provided clear guidance on how fundraisers can plan and prepare for these conversations.

It suggests considering questions like what the purpose of the call is, who the audience is, what policies are in place for the charity’s approach to vulnerable people and data and what the overall risks are for conducting these calls with donors.

The guide also suggests that callers should not always ask for money and to tailor the conversation to the individual, such as a welcome call for their first donation or annual after they first came on board. Charities should also be clear around data approaches, monitor campaigns and test and explore which calls work best to meet the goals.

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It’s also vital to look for signs of a vulnerable donor. It is important to consider that not all people will be in a position to make a confident and informed choice to donate.

“When calling the public, be alert for any indicators suggesting that an individual is confused about the nature of the call or isn’t able to make an informed decision, always treating the public fairly and with respect,” the report said.

“If the fundraiser is speaking clearly and slowly, but the recipient is regularly asking for information to be repeated or cannot follow the conversation, this could be an indicator of vulnerability and a donation should not be processed.”

If a charity is using a telephone fundraising agency, it is important to ensure that they have a good understanding of the key messaging of the charity and can answer any questions that may come up. The guide says to always have a policy in place for these partnerships, complete a risk assessment and continuously monitor progress.

The guide also advises that a leader of the organisation should listen into the calls at an early stage to get a sense of the messaging. Calls should be monitored and should all be recorded in case there is a need to refer back to a particular conversation.

It would also be worthwhile to put a director or executive number on the list of people to call so that the charity can get a sense of the experience from a public perspective.

Client Services Director from Ethicall, a fundraising telephone agency and partner of IoF, Alex Weeks-Smyth, said: “There are few tools as powerful as the telephone to achieve long-lasting connections with donors.”

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