How to fundraise over the phone

Fundraising over the phone is common among educational institutions who want to keep alumni involved. When I was at Regent University as a student, I would volunteer in the annual alumni phone-a-thon. It is one of the programs the school use to touch base with its graduates and to invite them to support the university. It not only helps update the information about the alumni but it also provides them a giving opportunity to make a financial contribution to their alma mater.

A phone-a-thon is a fundraising method that uses telephone calls for a period of time to seek financial contributions for a specific cause. Examples of this telephone campaigns are solicitations for victims of calamity such as earthquake, typhoons or the like. People tend to respond to such calls for help in-kind or in cash. It can also be used as an annual fundraising program such as the case cited above about alumni phone-a-thons.

Telephone fundraising is a vehicle that can be used if the organization has a database of donors and stakeholders who have had involvement with the institution. For example, it is legitimate to call up current donors to invite them to a new giving program. It can be a good avenue to seek donors to upgrade their giving.

To use telephone fundraising like a cold canvass i.e. using a telephone directory to invite contributions is not a sound practice. Not very many people respond to telemarketing particularly if you do not have a product to sell them.

In the ladder of fundraising effectiveness, telephone follow-up ranks among the top five. A fundraising letter is more effective if there is a telephone follow-up compared to a letter without a follow-up telephone call.

In summary, if you want to fundraise over the phone you can do it for the following goals:

1. To solicit from alumni or former members
2. To encourage existing donors to upgrade their giving
3. To follow up a letter of solicitation
4. To invite people to contribute to an emergency or relief operation to help victims of natural calamities

Some practical tips for fundraising over the phone:

1. Get a complete list of people you want to call and their telephone numbers
2. Prepare a script
3. Train the people in the use of the script and other information they will need to know
4. Set a specific timeline for the telephone blitz
5. Dedicate telephone lines to be used for the duration of the telephone campaign
6. Recruit volunteers
7. Set a fundraising goal or amount you want to raise over the telephone
8. If you are raising contributions for a calamity, specify the recipient community
9. Evaluate the campaign
10. Hold an appreciation party for the volunteers

Fundraising over the phone can be a one-time act or a regular program of a non-profit organization depending on the nature of its programs and services. It can serve as a vehicle for the annual fund program for a special purpose project.

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