What’s the bottom line? That’s the first question most development professionals ask at the end of a campaign, and rightfully so. After all, telemarketing is marketing, and the primary goal is to make money. While the financial value of your non-profit’s telemarketing campaign may be more obvious, don’t underestimate the less-tangible benefits that come with contacting your members over the phone. Every call is an opportunity to reach out to members, build brand loyalty, and strengthen the relationships you have built over the years.
Customer (Donor) Service
When a donor receives a telephone call, they don’t really think about who they might be speaking to or what their particular role might be in the organization. They only know they are talking to someone who represents the organization – someone who might be able to help them. If they have a question or concern, they are depending on that person to assist. And that’s how it should be. The phone call should be a seamless extension of the excellent service they would receive if they called your organization directly. However, some donors with problems might never report them on their own. Instead, they may simply harbor bad feelings, and even discontinue support.
Perhaps a donor never received their thank you gift. Maybe they have a question regarding a specific program, or need details about an upcoming event. No matter the issue, each phone call is a chance to uncover and rectify any service problems that may exist, which in turn strengthens the loyalty of the member. It’s also a great time to clean up your database – correct spelling or address errors, update records for members who may have moved (or even passed away), and flag phone numbers that are no longer valid (disconnected, no longer in service, etc.).
Your telemarketing firm should send any service issues that are uncovered to you daily. You or someone you designate should then promptly correct the problem and follow-up with the donor personally, if necessary. Your donor will remember the personalized service they received, solidifying their loyalty to your organization.
Broadcast Your Message and Brand
You spend an enormous amount of time carefully crafting your message and brand – logos, direct mail pieces, brochures, on-air promotions, community events, and more. Your goals are specific. Your mission is clear. Why stop there? The telemarketing call is another way to broadcast a consistent message and get your name in front of your members.
In non-profit marketing, “effective frequency” refers to the average number of times a donor or potential donor must be exposed to your brand and message before they respond, and before additional marketing would be considered wasteful. While there has been much debate over what that magic number is (expert estimates range wildly from 3 to 20), one thing is: repeat, repeat, repeat. Donors are already besieged daily with a variety of different messages. The competition to capture and keep a donor’s attention is fierce. Don’t miss the opportunity to re-inforce your message in your telemarketing calls.
You should always have final approval over any scripts used by agents calling on your behalf. Periodically ask to review the scripts that your telemarketing firm uses to ensure the appeal, message, and tone is consistent with your organization and its values. Ask to listen to phone calls to evaluate exactly how that message is getting across. If the telemarketing firm is also sending confirmations via mail or email, be sure to routinely review the text, materials and links being used. Remember, just as is the case with other forms of marketing, your telemarketing message should be current, fresh, and consistent with your other marketing efforts.
Gather Value Feedback
A critical component of any good fundraising call is a rapport between the donor and agent. That rapport is achieved by asking the donor questions related to the value they have for the organization. This presents an enormous opportunity to collect feedback and strengthen the relationship with the donor. Everyone likes to be heard and know that their opinion matters. Why did the donor give previously? If they won’t give now, why? These are important questions.
Specifically, what types of questions should agents be asking? If your organization is a public television or radio station, find out the donor’s favorite programs. For museums, zoos and aquariums, ask about their favorite exhibits or what they enjoyed most on their last visit. For a Humane Society, inquire if they are pet owners and their adoption experiences. More general questions can be related to community outreach programs, other marketing efforts, and even your competition.
Work closely with your telemarketing firm to develop the right questions for your organization and campaign. Verify that the firm’s agents are recording the information and that it’s relayed to you for analysis. In addition to specific answers, ask for metrics related to the reasons donors are responding (either “yes” or “no”). Are an inordinate number of members saying no for a specific reason? Are there certain trends associated with the donors who are saying “yes?” The information obtained can be invaluable in improving both your organization and its relationship with donors.
The Bottom Line
So how does all of this affect the bottom line? Profoundly. Your organization works hard to establish and foster donor relationships. Just as with every other interaction with donors, the telemarketing call is one of the best ways to nurture those relationships, which in turn leads to a long, positive, and prosperous relationship.