Telefundraising: Is It Still Effective for Nonprofits?

Telefundraising: Is It Still Effective for Nonprofits?

Before there were text messages. 

Before there were emails. 

Before social media was ever dreamt up. 

There were landlines and phone calls. And nonprofit organizations have utilized those phones for fundraising purposes for years. 

But in this new era of technology, does telefundraising still work? Is it still an effective form of fundraising for your nonprofit? 

We’re digging in deeper: 




What is Telefundraising? 

Telefundraising is exactly as it sounds. It involves using a phone, calling a number, and chatting with someone over the phone about your nonprofit. 

Sometimes, phone calls don’t involve a “hard ask.” Sometimes, they’re just meant to check in with a new supporter and build a rapport with them. 

Other times, phone calls are used for a “hard ask.” 


Why Should Your Nonprofit Consider Telefundraising? 

If the world is moving towards the digital space, then should your nonprofit forego phone fundraising? 

Well, not necessarily. 

Getting someone on the phone is still proving to be a fruitful fundraising technique. Take a look at some of the benefits: 


1. Response Rates Are Higher Than Other Fundraising Techniques

While success rates of email fundraising are on the rise, the response rate for phone calls is still higher. 

Maybe it’s because having a phone conversation is more in line with having a conversation in person. You can hear the person’s voice. You’re asking them questions that they can answer right away, not 10 minutes (or days) from now. 

And because of that, the response rates for telefundraising are usually higher than with email or text-to-give fundraising. 

According to the Gail Perry Group, if you were to call each individual on your contact list, 1 in 4 supporters would give (or give again). 


2. You Can Boost Recurring Giving Through Phone Fundraising

In the same vein as above, getting supporters on the phone can quickly boost your recurring giving rates. 

According to Call Hub, 19% of donors would give again if you got them on the phone. It’s a quick and effective way to increase funding! 


When Should Your Nonprofit Not Consider Telefundraising? 

Overall, phone fundraising can still be beneficial, no matter what. And it’s a great technique to add to your overall fundraising campaigns. 

But, whether or not it’s your main source of funding depends on your organization and your ideal donors. 

Studies are showing that younger generations, such as millennials and Gen Z, prefer communicating on the internet. That includes things like email, social media, and even website chatbots.

So, if your primary ideal donor is within a younger generation, then you may want to use telefundraising as a secondary technique within your strategy. 


How to Make Telephone Fundraising Calls People Won’t Mind Getting:

While asking for a donation over the phone can be extremely effective, that doesn’t mean it’s not intimidating. 

But if you can prepare yourself and anyone else making the calls, you’ll find that it gets much easier. Especially when you prioritize making fundraising calls that people don’t mind getting! 

Use these tips to help you do exactly that: 


1. Determine Who to Call

Not everyone is suited to be called. And if you call on people who don’t want calls asking for donations, then you’re going to end up with a bunch of “no’s.” And you and your team are going to feel defeated and never want to make another call again. 

But if you head into this strategically, then you might find yourself with a crazy morale booster! 

Using your nonprofit CRM tool, pull a report of your contacts who fit the criteria you’re looking for. Often, this might look like: 

  • Supporters who have given over the phone in the past
  • Supporters who have donated previously (in some capacity)
  • Current or previous major donors
  • Contacts who belong to older generations (think Generation X and older)

The reason you want to prioritize your list following criteria such as this is that these leads are typically warmer. They’re more likely to respond positively because they already know, like, and trust your organization. 


2. Make the Phone Call a Genuine Conversation (Not Just an Ask!)

When you dial the number, it’s a good idea to forego the idea that you’re making a “fundraising phone call.” 

Or, at least, don’t only view it that way. 

Instead, think of it as a genuine conversation with someone. When you view it in such a way, you do two things: 


A.) You take the pressure off of making the ask. Suddenly, you’re not fundraising, you’re just talking. That feels a lot better and more natural for most people.


B.) You’re treating the person on the other end of the phone as a human being, rather than a dollar sign. Nobody wants to only be pitched to. They want to know that you care enough about them to take the time to get to know them. 


3. Be Open and Honest About What You’re Doing

As much as possible, always be transparent about what you’re doing. You can call and have a genuine conversation with them. 

But when it gets time to ask them about supporting your nonprofit, be upfront about it. Tell them that you’re looking for more support. 

You’ll also want to tell them where their money is going. Is it going to a specific project your organization is working on? Is it going toward operational costs so your nonprofit can continue making an impact? 

Staying honest and forthright allows the other person to trust what you’re saying. 


4. Loosely Follow a Donation Call Script for the “Hard Ask”

Because calling people on the phone for donations can feel so intimidating, many people get nervous and fumble over their words.

Or they outright don’t do it at all! 

But there are ways around that. And one of those ways is to use a donation call script. A script can give you a basic layout of how the conversation can go, and how to appropriately ask and respond to someone. 

It works as a little “boost” to give the caller more confidence in their task! 

We’d like to say though, it’s a good idea to loosely follow the donation script. If you only follow the script, then you close the door to have a genuine conversation with someone. 

And having that conversation is crucial to building a relationship with the person on the phone. That relationship is what can lead to support. 


5. Be Prepared for a No

Before you or anyone else dials the number, be prepared for a no. 

One of the biggest factors in not picking up the phone to call is the fear of rejection. Because when someone says “no” to supporting the mission, it often feels personal. 

So prepare yourself for a no before picking up the phone. Tell yourself that it’s not personal. And just because someone says “no” doesn’t mean that they don’t value the nonprofit. It might just not be the best time for them to donate at the moment! 


6. Always Express Your Gratitude

 Finally, make sure you always follow up any call with a thank you. Whether they say yes or no, thank them for their time! 

Expressing gratitude is an excellent way to nurture your relationship with whoever it is you’re speaking to. And it also opens the door to follow up with the person in the future, whether it’s to ask for a recurring donation or to send updates about your mission. 


While the world is moving toward the digital space, telefundraising isn’t a lost cause. It still remains one of the most effective ways to bring in donations for your mission! 

But if you or your team feels nervous about picking up the phone, don’t worry! We’ve got a training course that will help you. 

Find Out More About Using the Phone Without Fear!

Topics: Fundraising, Donor Relationships and Acquisition for Nonprofits