Discover the cold calling methods that bring in more donations for your nonprofit fundraising endeavor.
The same cold calling methods that work for sales or service-oriented aren’t always the same ones that work for a nonprofit fundraising campaign. In fact, there are some significant differences in play. For example, in most fundraising calls, you aren’t selling a product or a service; you’re selling an idea.
The people who donate to your fundraiser aren’t getting anything tangible. They aren’t getting a fitness center membership, financial advice, or life insurance. Instead, when they share their credit card information with you, they’re buying into a promise. They believe that your nonprofit organization will use the funds to provide meals for hungry kids, health services for uninsured people, or care for abandoned pets.
While some cold calling methods from a traditional sales model can work in fundraising, there are also some unique approaches that may be even more effective.
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7 Cold calling methods that will bring in bigger donations
1. Remember that these calls are not entirely cold. There’s a good chance that you’re calling people who are signed up for your mailing list, have donated in the past, or have come to an event you’ve hosted. Though a fundraising call might be a cold call in that you haven’t talked to them, they do at least have some interest in your organization.
2. Differentiate your prospects. Especially in fundraising, your cold calling methods need to differentiate between previous donors and those who have not yet given.
3. Call previous donors first. In the business world, your most profitable customers are often those with whom you already do business. This holds true for fundraising, as well. Your previous donors are the ones most likely to continue supporting you. Yes, call your entire list, but do your best to begin where you have the greatest chance of success.
Pro Tip: Always thank donors for their previous gifts, whether they gave $10 or $10,000.
4. Write and use a script. I know this may sound booooring, but there’s information you want to be sure to include; A script helps you remember that info. It’s especially helpful if you have a volunteer group making calls for you. This doesn’t mean your team needs to read in a robotic monotone on every call. In fact, you want some personality in the calls. It’s okay to chat, assuming the person you’re speaking with engages you. That’s how you build relationships. It’s just important to have the script handy so that there’s a roadmap for anyone who may need it.
5. Be clear about your mission, goals, and prior successes. People love a story, so including a good story in your pitch is one of the best cold calling methods around when you’re fundraising. This could even be part of your script. Make your organization come alive with details about real-life results and accomplishments.
6. Be ready for rejections. No one likes to get rejections, but it’s part of making cold calls. However, if you’re fundraising, you have a secret: You can adjust the ask. Sure, it would be great if every call ended with the donor offering a very generous gift. But don’t give up just because that big gift doesn’t materialize. If you connect on a call and all the signs point to a positive outcome, work down from your initial request. If you get rejected for a $200 donation, how about $100? Still too much? Maybe $50 works? Or even a yearly sustaining membership of $15 per month (which over time is almost as much as your initial $200 ask).
7. Call to say thank you. One of the best cold calling methods for fundraising is neither a cold call nor a fundraising call. Quite bluntly, you don’t want your only contact with donors to be the call asking for funding. Once each year, maybe a few months after a fundraiser, call every one of your previous donors just to say thank you. Keep it simple. “Hi, this is Devin from XYZ nonprofit, just letting you know we really appreciate your support. You’ve helped us meet our _____ goal.” A personal thank you call is almost sure to guarantee that your next fundraising cycle will be a success.
Of course, no matter the outcome of any call, always be sure to thank the person for their time and attention. You never know when a future call could yield results, and you want to leave the best possible impression.
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