Dialing for dollars (directions & fundraising script)

Dialing for dollars! The end of the fiscal year fundraising pushFor many of us, June is the end of the fiscal year.

Most donors could care less. But that doesn't mean we can slack off!

A deadline is a great motivator. So even if it is a deadline that makes no sense to donors (donors think in terms of the tax year), it can still motivate a gift.

Here are some steps I shared last week with my Fundraising Kick subscribers that will help you get on the phone and ask for money!

  1. Decide which is more important to your nonprofit:
    • raising money to meet goal or
    • increasing the number of donors.

    I’m serious. For many of you, dollars in the door are the most important. But some of you have already hit your goal. If that’s the case, use this month to get even more donors in the door.

  2. Next run a list of all the people that gave last fiscal year (last July through last June).

    If you need to raise more money, sort the list from biggest gift to lowest.

    If you want to get more donors, you might want to sort it by lowest gift first.

  3. Start calling! Either goal, set aside at least an hour a day for calls.

These calls aren’t for setting up appointments. This is straight dialing for dollars.

“Hi, this is ________ from [nonprofit name]. We’re grateful for your support in the past and were wondering if you’d be able to make a gift before our fiscal year ends on June 30.”

Be sure to be able to take credit card numbers over the phone. That is the best way to go. It’s easier for them and it’s money in the bank for your nonprofit.

And have fun bringing in the dollars and donors. Seriously. This is a part of fundraising!

What phone fundraising tips would you add?

Let us know in the comments!

For three more simple tips on fundraising by phone, check out my YouTube video: 3 quick tips to make your fundraising calls more effective

About Marc A. Pitman

Marc A. Pitman is the CEO of The Concord Leadership Group, the author of Ask Without Fear! and director of The Nonprofit Academy. A coach to leaders around the world, Marc's expertise and enthusiasm engages audiences and has caught the attention of media organizations as diverse as Al Jazeera and Fox News. Marc’s experience also includes pastoring a Vineyard church, managing a gubernatorial campaign, and teaching internet marketing and fundraising at colleges and universities. He is the husband to his best friend and the father of three amazing kids. And if you drive by him on the road, he’ll be singing 80’s tunes loud enough to embarrass his family! You can connect with him on Google+, on Twitter @marcapitman, and like "Ask Without Fear!" on Facebook.
To get his free ebook on 21 ways to get board members engaged with fundraising, go to https://fundraisingcoach.com/21-ways/


  1. Having some of the donor's giving history right in front of you is really helpful - you can speak to it ("You've been giving to us for the past xx years") and help create a personal connection by showing that you know them and appreciate your relationship.

    • Jon, you are so right!

      Touches like that help make each call more personal. I find people let down their defenses as they realize they're not being called by telemarketers.

  2. If you approach ?Dialing for Dollars? as you put it ? you are playing roulette ? your hoping for the ball falls on the winning number at the end of the calling period.

    This is an adequate strategy. It suffices for calls made for your local Police and Fire Departments. We can also apply these calls made for your local church organization. Applying this strategy to a medium and/or large non-profit organization - it will fail. Why ? unfortunately ? it is a weak strategy when it comes to the larger organization.
    Segmenting the list from highest donor to lowest donor is standard. But what do you do with it. Your donors possibly can range from $10 to $49, $50 to $99, $100 to $999, and $1000 and up. What will be the strategy used in calling each segment ? for example ? time of day to call ? I would not call the high donors until the evening. Another point to take into consideration ? are some of these donors out of state. If this is the case ? legal aspects must be considered.
    You also state that a deadline is a great motivator. It is. However, it is more effective if a matching gift is part of the deadline. In addition, you are correct when you state that donors think in terms of the tax year. Most donors prefer to claim their donations to all their non-profits in December. It keeps their records consistent and accurate since a large percentage give the same dollar amount to each non-profit.
    The script you give as an example does not take into consideration the following:
    1. Why did the donor give the last time ? what was the organization?s mission in asking for the last donation.
    2. You cannot use the same script when speaking to a high end donor. Psychology plays an important aspect in asking high donors for another large donation.
    3. Meeting the organization?s fiscal goal without explaining to the donor the affects the organization will encounter if it does not reach its fiscal goals does not give the donor a good reason to donate.
    4. You are throwing the caller under the bus. The script does not take into account objections. You cannot leave it up to an inexperienced caller to answer the objections.
    5. The caller will ask for a credit card. The donor says no. Does the caller have several reasons to give the donor for asking for a credit card a second time or does the caller merely go for a check pledge. All non-profits require at least two credit cards ask. The fulfillment percentages from check pledges are poor.
    6. With a check pledge comes a verification protocol ? confirmation of the amount of the donation and confirmation of the return date.
    In your video you mention that the first call is the hardest ? I will agree with you. However, if the caller is not trained properly the second call, the third call and any additional call will be difficult. Then frustration sets in and the caller gives up.
    You also mention the cadence rhythm. This works if the caller is speaking normally without fear of the call itself. By merely telling individuals how they should make the call without demonstrating how it should be done ? dealing with objections, credit card asks, irate donors - is useless.
    To be successful in making phone calls to acquire donations you need the following:
    1. A good script ? I do not mean a Direct Marketing Letter disguised as a script.
    The Introduction, the First Ask, the Second Ask should follow the 1.30 rule. The three facets in asking should not take more than 90 seconds.
    2. Training
    3. Create confidence in the inexperienced caller
    4. Coaching
    I have merely touched the surface. In making phone calls for donations my partner and I have been in telefundraising a total 28 years as trainers, in writing scripts, coaches and managers - whether the calls are made from call centers, phone banks or an office, it is not fun ? it is hard work even if you call for one hour a day. For that one hour of calling there needs to be an effective script, training, coaching ? preparation ? preparation ? preparation.

    • Thanks for such a thorough response, JD.

      I apologize if you read the "end of the year" push as a substitution for a robust fundraising program. Or even a substitute for a full fledged telefundraising program. I've run those. They've included scripts, manuals, training, stacks of pledge forms, in-the-moment coaching. Helping callers get over being slammed by an angry donor. Celebrating with those who meet or exceed benchmarks.

      I don't think the post or the video is "useless." But I am biased since I wrote it. 🙂

      When imagine myself as a development director in a nonprofit reading your comment, I come away with an overwhelming sense of "there's no way I can do all that this week." So I'm curious, how do you as a trainer frame all the needed preparation in a way that empowers people to get out there and ask?

      I'm sure you'll agree that a nonprofit with an honest asker stumbling through calls will raise more money than a nonprofit with no calls being made.

  3. A weak seems to be a very short time to begin preparing for a telefundraising campaign. In actuality it is not. It comes down to basic project management and a complete understanding of the workings of the organization. There has been many times the following had to be done in two days. Let us discuss the following scenario:
    The Development Director has given the assigned Project Manager one weak to prepare before the campaign start date. He wants at a minimum of 5 individuals to be part of this calling team and he also wants them to call at least 4 hours per day for five days. This will give the Development Director 100 hours of calling.
    1. The first thing the PM needs to do is have a list of donors pulled from the data base with each donors giving history which should consist of their most recent gift as well as their highest gift.
    2. As the list is being worked on he needs to decide which individuals he will assign to the calling team. But how does he choose the team. He basis his choice on personality, attitude, intellectual ability, diction, tone, assertiveness and degree of dedication to the non-profit.
    3. The script needs to be written. However if the donor list shows that there are donors from $10 to $49, $50 to $99, $100 to $999, and $1000 and up a second script needs to be written for the donors above $1000. Their needs to be a different psychological approach in writing the high donor script. Both scripts need to be written for the ear not the eye. Unfortunately a large percentage of scripts are written for the eye. Keep in mind that the script, if it is written properly, can be read word for word and the donor will not be able to tell it is being read. It will sound as though the fundraiser is speaking in a conversational tone. Once the scripts are written then the PM places himself in the donors? position and ascertains what objections can arise from the script. The PM creates the answers to the objections and adds this information to the script with the addition of the usual objections which can be attributed to all campaigns - with their rebuttals.
    4. These objections would be as follows:
    A. I am out of work.
    B. I cannot afford another donation.
    C. I need to ask my husband.
    D. My wife controls the checkbook
    E. I am reducing the number of donations I am making this year.
    5. You have chosen the individuals who want to be part of the calling team. The next step is to sit them down and explain to them what they will face once they begin calling. They will face such questions as:
    A. Are you a paid fundraiser?
    B. I am on the No Call List.
    C. Take me off your list.
    D. You have never called me before why are you calling me now?
    E. How much of my donation is used for fundraising?
    F. How are you paid?
    This is merely a sample of questions which will be asked. In addition you will have irate donors who do not like to be called. You may have some donors curse you out ? I have always informed fundraisers once you start calling you may discover what the real world is all about.
    6. You then brief the campaign. With the scripts in front of them your briefing not only explains the purpose of the campaign and its mission but you need to begin motivating them. You cannot sound indifferent; you need to be passionate and sincere. If you want these novices to feel a part of this project you need to let them listen to you simulate the call and then allow them to hit you with objections and see how you handle them and go one step further - let them create new objections and see how quickly you can turn them around.
    7. Then the call training begins. You use role play in a way which simulates the fundraiser and the donor. This is accomplished by having the fundraiser call the simulated donor using both scripts and having the simulated donor begin to use the objections. At the same time you record the conversations. Once they finish several calls you sit them down and let all of them listen to all the calls and have them critique each other. From experience this is one of the best ways in coaching callers.
    8. The day of calling you give one final briefing.
    9. Once they begin calling ? you monitor continually.
    10. Once each caller has completed one call; take them all off the phones and review what you heard and how to improve their calls.
    11. This has to be continually done every day of calling until they are comfortable in dealing with the scripts, the objections and the donors.

    The Development Director needs to understand that telefundraising is not merely picking up the phone and asking for money. It is a very complicated profession. It has a good deal of X factors throughout the telfundraising process. Those X factors depends on how one deals with human nature on both sides of the fundraising fence.
    The key that empowers people to get out there and ask is based upon the individual who is in charge of the project. The PM can motivate them simply by demonstrating a confident attitude and belief in the success of his people as they become part of this project.

What would you add?