Stewardship v. Telemarketing

by | Jan 25, 2024

“It already is the end of the year, ma’am,” said the aggravated gentleman on the other end of the line. It was around December 20th last year.

He was replying to my comment that I planned to do all my year-end giving online next week. I sit down and take care of giving to all the nonprofits I support at one time. It’s like a Christmas present to myself. It feels great — it’s become a little tradition of mine.

This guy was pushing for a gift. Right now. He just had to get me in this brand-new car! That’s what it felt like.

Also: gross. It made me agitated and he kept pushing. I did make a gift, but the bad feeling lingers …

I know most organizations hire fundraising calls out to telemarketing firms. But these people are representing your group. Sometimes it’s the only time a donor will speak to a human about donating to your nonprofit. You need to make it count.

Some things to think about when developing scripts for telemarketing fundraising firms calling on behalf your nonprofit:

Beware of the long list. My surly telemarketing friend steamrolled me by droning on about everything the nonprofit “got done” this year. He wouldn’t let me interject. Whatever accomplishments may have been mentioned were lost on me because it just sounded like the teacher from Charlie Brown after a while. Build in instructions that say “pause to get feedback” or some note that indicates a break. You can’t count on a telemarketer being intuitive enough to do that for you.

Have instructions for tone. It should go without saying. But indicating that you want the person calling on behalf of your organization to sound “helpful”, “cheerful”, “upbeat”, etc. is important. I’ve even included instructions for breathing (deep breaths before the call and breathing from the belly during the call) and smiling (ALWAYS smile as you’re dialing/connecting — gets your head right).

Be explicit about what you DON’T want. I guess the shortest version of this is “Don’t be an asshole.” But you can’t really say that to someone, can you? But maybe you can say: “Avoid sounding transactional/salesy.” Or “Avoid pushing for a gift if someone indicates a pledge or plan to give at a later time.”

They’re seemingly small distinctions. But they go a long way toward making calls on behalf of your nonprofit to benefit your donor stewardship plans instead of tanking them.




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