January 20, 2017

Make Phone-a-thons Work For Your Organization

Phone-a-thons can be incredibly successful under the right conditions and for the right organization. The main issue with phone campaigns is that they are very labor intensive.

Many universities outsource their phone-a-thon to professional telemarketing companies, because engaging tens of thousands of alumni in a short period of time is extraordinarily challenging. This type of outsourcing comes at a price, sometimes in the five to six figure range. The logistical requirements and up-front costs can make phone-a-thons for small to mid-sized organizations impractical as a fundraising tool.

That said, there are three ways a phone-a-thon can work for organizations of any size:

  • The Thank-a-thon: this is a great way to engage board members and leadership volunteers. Ask them to spend some time just making thank-you calls to donors. Donors typically love this kind of special attention, and hearing from appreciative donors tends to leave board members and volunteers with strong positive feelings about the organization. That’s a win-win for everyone.
  • Engaging with significant supporters: when the end of the fiscal year comes around and some of the most significant and generous donors still have not made their annual gift, a personal call from the CEO, a board member, or the fundraising staff can help secure those critical, larger gifts. Even if those efforts fail, it is a good way to pay some extra attention to the organization’s most loyal donors. If there are any issues with the organization, the donor now has the immediate attention of someone who may be able to help address their concerns.
  • Membership drives: this does not apply to all organizations, but some nonprofits (arts organizations, museums) depend on annual subscribers or ticket holders, and for those purposes may host annual membership or subscriber renewal drives. In those cases, it is possible to request a donation at the time the renewal call is made.

About Marc Huber

Marc Huber is a fundraising professional with over seventeen years of experience, including strategic messaging, board development, annual giving, capital campaigns, and volunteer consultation and training. He's also the author of The Fundraising Co-Pilot.

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