If you are like many nonprofits, you are thinking about making phone calls this fall. I know I have been asked to make calls this month as a volunteer. It is a great way to connect with your members, donors, and volunteers.
Your nonprofit may decide to call:
- Your entire membership to thank them for being involved (stewardship calls)
- Previous donor calls (donation encouragement calls)
- Previous donor calls (solicitation calls)
- Recent donations (gratitude calls)
- Volunteers (gratitude calls)
But, as one client reminded me, asking board members to make the calls is easy. Ensuring that someone is systematically following up on the information, questions, and comments gathered from the calls is the hard part.
In other words, how you handle the information you gain during the next few months will impact donations and retention for years to come.
The easiest way to anger a donor is ask a question, get an answer, do nothing with it, and never provide feedback to the donor.
Consider these 3 different scenarios that require 3 different responses:
- One person asks what happened to their book donation from last year (not about how their DAF distribution for $5,000 was spent – only the book valued around $54)
- Another asks why their favorite program isn’t running now that people are back in the buildings
- A third person asks whether they can start volunteering in the next couple of months but not for the gala
Obviously, we can’t know what the answers are or who should answer them.
Phone Calls will be made to ___(group)___ by ___(group/individual names) ___ during ___(start date)___ to __(end date)___
- Who is assigning the calls (and providing the call information and sample script)?
- Who is tracking that the calls are made?
- When should reminders be sent?
- Tracking the questions
- Who will track that a comment was made or a question was asked?
- Is there a contact report that should be filled out?
- How will you track that a contact report was filled out? i.e. is there a central document like a Google Doc, is it entered into the CRM, or is every report sent to one person to track?
- Will development staff be told each time a response is necessary with any comments that might be helpful? How will they be notified? Or do they need to check the tracking document? How often?
- Who will let the appropriate person at the organization know there is a question or comment that needs to be addressed?
- Who can be assigned to respond? Who decides who should respond? Responders could include:
- Fundraising Staff
- Executive Director
- Programming Coordinator
- Volunteer Coordinator
- Who will check that the person was contacted a second time? Follow up. Follow up. Follow up. It is stewardship. It is logical. It is also the only way you will retain a donor. Someone needs to know that they oversee this.
- Who will collect and track contact reports? Each interaction with a donor provides valuable information. Don’t assume the volunteer – or even staff member – will be there to remind you of the facts in a week, a year or 3 years. Turnover is high. And memories are short.
- Analyzing the results
- Did the people called have a higher donation level or retention rate after receiving a call?
- How much time did volunteers actually spend on the calling process?
- Did everyone make their calls?
Create a formal process from start to finish. Keep it simple. But make it an essential part of calling. 5 minutes to make the call. 5 minutes to write the call report. Or one minute and one minute if you just leave a message.
This seems to be a lot of work for a few phone calls, doesn’t it? The good news is once you create your system you may only need to revise it from time to time. So start assigning those calls.
We can’t guarantee the calls will make a difference. But, we are so confident in this follow-up process that we encourage you to use it anyway. Try it. You will raise more money and retain more donors. You’ll see.
Want to read more about End-of-year strategies? Here are a few from our archive:
Five End-of-year Segmentation Strategies
Which is Easier? Getting a Teenager into College or Getting New Donors in December?