At this point in the year, you’ve already sent your direct mail fundraising letter. (You have, haven’t you?) So this can be an awful time, marked by nail biting and incessantly looking at database reports to see if anyone has given. It can feel like fundraising is totally out of your control.
But fundraising is not totally out of your control. This isn’t a time to coast!
Even if Christmas is something you celebrate, as I do, the good news is that you don’t have to wait on the whims of the postal service and donors giving habits. The phone can be your friend at this time of the year.
How to make year-end follow up fundraising telephone calls
Create the list
Generally, you want to call donors known as LYBUNTS and SYBUNTS. These are people who’ve given “last year but unfortunately not this” (LYBUNTS) or “several years but unfortunately not this” (SYBUNTS).
Schedule time for batches of 10 -15 calls
I’ve said this often before, like in this quick video: 3 Easy Telephone Fundraising Tips. Batching calls makes it easier for you. The first couple calls take a lot of effort. By the third or fourth, you develop a bit of a momentum.
Be sure to set aside enough time for this. I’ve had clients take an hour to do this many calls; others have taken 2-3 hours. You need to factor in time not just for the call but for getting the phone number and leaving notes in the database.
How to start your fundraising call
”Hi this is [your name] calling from [your org] to follow up the letter we sent you.”
You can pause here to see if they’ll say anything. Often times, they’ll say something like “Oh yes, we received that.” Your goal is to re-engage them with the EMOTIONS that caused them to make their first gift. You might say something like “Did you like the story about _____?” or better “What struck you the most with this?” Whatever you say, work the brief conversation—keep it brief! Whether or not they’re chatty, get to:
“Will you make a gift before year end?”
And be ready to take the credit card information!
Clients always ask me about whether or not to leave a message. In this day of cell phones and caller ID, I prefer to leave a message. It’s really annoying to get repeated calls from a number that doesn’t leave a message!
You could say something like:
”Hi this is [your name] from [your org] calling to follow up our year-end letter. Sorry I missed you. I’ll try back in a week or so. If you want to reach me before then, my number is [your number].”
This keeps you in control of the calling. And gives you an excuse to follow up in the odd time between Christmas and New Years. “As promised, I’m calling you back to follow up the letter we sent…”
You can take a vacation in January
December 31st is a crucial deadline for fundraising. Many organizations will make or break their budget based on the gifts that come in this month. If you’re a professional fundraiser, you need to act like a professional. Part of that means buckling down on calls now. Take your full week of vacation next month! (Click here to tweet that.)
Get to it! There are people to be called!