Who even talks on the phone anymore?

Every year on my birthday, I wonder who’s going to call me. I appreciate getting emails and Facebook posts too. They remind me that people are thinking about me. But, when people call me to wish me a happy birthday, I feel truly loved.

The telephone is an intimate tool for communication. That’s true for birthday wishes, and it is just as true when it comes to soliciting gifts for your organization. The phone offers the opportunity to achieve some of the strongest conversion rates of any channel while connecting with a supporter in a personal way that no other channel can offer.

All of this connection does come at a cost. And not just a financial cost. We live in a society where phone calls are unexpected at best, and unwanted at worst.

The fact that someone has answered the phone for a stranger is cause for gratitude. The added fact that the person who answered probably already supports your organization, is cause for celebration.

Because of our collective attitude towards answering the phone, it is crucial that every moment you have on the phone with your supporter is as memorable and valuable as possible for that supporter.

Invest in Your Donors

Because these calls come at a cost, the focus tends to be on recouping the investment. This is a sound and reasonable objective to work toward. Otherwise, why invest?

What sometimes gets lost is that the person on the other end of the phone is also expecting to recoup something on their investment. They have chosen to direct a portion of their philanthropic budget to your organization because something about your mission spoke to them.

They may not realize that they have this expectation. But, there is an underlying appetite for something to come back from that investment.

When you reach out to donors, there are so many things you offer. Show them gratitude. Provide accountability. Make them feel your love.

Telephone Time Management

We usually talk to donors for around five minutes on a call. In that time, the fundraiser must show the donor two points of connection: what they’ve done and what they can do.

Using an emotionally charged story to demonstrate impact, and then illustrating what the urgent and continuing need is, provides the supporter with a feeling of accomplishment. And, if done incredibly well, leaves them feeling inspired to deepen their commitment.

Most telephone fundraisers can tell a vivid story. They can transport the supporter to the middle of a war-torn country where an emergency worker is risking life and limb to save a child’s life, only to look in a bag without supplies because the organization requires additional funding.

But, it is only the absolute best fundraisers who are able to share that story while also listening to, and acknowledging, the supporter on the other end of the phone. That fundraiser knows that this is their opportunity to show the person on the phone that they already are, or can become, a hero. Most supporters will not be chomping at the bit to speak up. So it’s up to that fundraiser to make sure that there are opportunities for them to feel included and heard.

In a market where it is essential to stand out from all of the other hard-working charities who also desperately need donor support, you can stand out by being the organization that listens to your donors. You can stand out by giving them an inside look that goes further than an Annual Report.

You have the power to use every phone call as a chance to make that supporter’s day special because they come away from that call feeling more connected to your cause, regardless of whether or not they made a gift.

This post was written by Morgan Steacy, former Philanthropic Counsel at Good Works.