QUESTION: What should I do when I call potential donors but only reach their voicemail? Should I leave a message? If yes, whats a good "script."

MY ANSWER: Great question. Years ago, the norm was to not leave a voicemail the first couple times. Only maybe on the third attempt.

But now with caller ID and cellphones, people tend to know you've called. So I'm not convinced formulaic answers work anymore. So I play it by ear. Sometimes I leave a message on the first attempt. Other times I wait for a few attempts.

If you choose to leave a message, here are some tips for when you do:

  • Clearly state your name, your organization, and your number, right at the start.

    Too often we leave a message, sometimes even rambling. Our number only comes the very end. And we say it super fast. This forces the person to listen to the entire message repeatedly in order to write the number down.

  • Then state the purpose of the call.

    "I am calling to update you on _____. I'll try back in a few days."

  • Then repeat who you are, who you represent, and what your number is.

    I always add: "if email is easier, my email is _____" spelling out tricky parts of the email.

All of this takes less than 30 seconds. (Really, I just timed it.)

Bonus Tips

When leaving your number, memory experts suggest grouping the number in memorable ways. I say:

"My number is three-one-seven, two-ninety-six, seven-eight-eight-six. That is three-seventeen, two-nine-six, seventy-eight, eighty-six."

Also, saying "I'll call you in a few days" sets you up for "pleasant persistence." Now when you call back, you're not bugging them. You're not being a hassle. You are simply being a person of integrity. You promised to follow up with them in a few days.

That may seem like word play. But try it. You'll be amazed at how much better you approach the follow up calls!

Any Others?

Those are my tips. What tips do you use? Tell us in the comments!

Help your board fundraise for your nonprofit with
this FREE ebook

You'll discover the 21 ways each board member can help their nonprofit's fundraising - even if they don't like to ask for money!

You have Successfully Subscribed!