Recently I ran a phonathon as the head of the fundraising committee. While this was not my first phonathon, I did learn a few things.
Should everyone be a fundraiser?
I know that many people do not want to make the calls or meet with people to ask for money. There are many other ways to support the organization. But, when people tell me they don’t like to make calls to previous donors, especially people that I consider to be outgoing, energetic, interactive individuals, I am skeptical. There is a part of me that thinks – “he just hasn’t had enough practice to get past his discomfort” or “she’ll feel differently once she starts making the calls and realizes these are not cold calls but people who already love the organization.”
But maybe, just maybe, there are some outgoing, energetic, interactive individuals who don’t like making calls – no matter the case or the cause.
In addition to 10 of my fellow board members, two fellow board members/friends who also serve with me signed up as a sign of loyalty to me – a very kind and supportive gesture that did not go unnoticed. Should I have let them off of the hook?
I don’t know.
One person (I’ll call her Jen), it turned out felt good after having a heart-warming conversation and another (I’ll call her Rachel) hated it from beginning to end. I think Jen will be a better volunteer for this and other organizations and gained a bit of personal growth. But, Rachel is a good volunteer in so many other ways (including face-to-face solicitations). Why should she do something that is uncomfortable? Why does this need to be the sign of a good volunteer?
I asked Rachel if she was sorry she participated. She said that she was glad she did it but it confirmed her dislike for phone solicitations (based on her anger at receiving them).
And now, I am smarter about how to handle the situation in the future. Next time I will arrange a few alternate jobs – from prep-work to onsite organization – if they choose to join us the night of the phonathon. I want to ensure they feel good about their participation – whatever their participation may be.