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The Challenge with the Phone and Fundraising

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The telephone is one of the most important tools fundraisers have. It truly is a wonderful machine, because it allows us to speak with our lovely donors for little cost.

But there’s a problem.

Quite often we simply can’t get through to the donor we want to.

What can we do about this?

One solution is to use a professional telephoning agency. It is well known that these agencies are used widely for lower value donors (especially for monthly giving calls). But these companies can also help build relationships with mid to high-value donors, and with legacy prospects.

Using these agencies is usually cheaper than making the calls yourself when you factor in the costs of your time preparing, failing to get through, having the conversation and typing up the notes in the database.

One of the secrets of success for phone agencies is ‘penetration’. They have systems and processes to make sure that they can get through to as many people as possible.  Even with all that though, penetration can vary from 40% to 65%:

Unfortunately, no technology exists to allow you to get through to everyone.

However, not all charities can use these agencies.  Perhaps your volume is not high enough to prove good value for you, or no appropriate agency has the capacity to take you on when you need them. So what then?

The key is to take a leaf out of the agencies’ (phone) book.  They understand that it is about numbers, so that’s where you should start.

Let’s say you want to get through to 50 donors to invite to an event.

Firstly, you are probably going to have to attempt to call them an average of five times.  And even then you may only get through to about one in three.

So to get your 50 invites, you’d need to try to call 150 people on average five times each.  That is dialling 750 times!  Sorry, this is just reality!

Calling donors is a good and wonderful thing to do.  Just make sure you have the resources (people and budget) and patience.

The phone is an important part of a powerful mid-value donor program. Want to learn more about how to use it? Take the Moceanic Mid-Value Donor Super Course which includes one full module about Top Tips for the Conversation that Gets the BIG Gift from the Mid-Value Donor. You can get access to that and more when you join The Fundraisingology Lab.


  • Sean Triner

    Sean Triner is a Co-Founder of Moceanic and Pareto Group. With over three decades of experience in fundraising and a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in mathematics, Sean has a wealth of fundraising expertise to share with Moceanic members and blog readers. He is also a coach and available for bookings on the Coaching+ program for fundraisers to help answer your questions and work hands-on directly with you.

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