However, when it comes to fundraising, I am absolutely passionate about the power of the picking up the telephone and speaking to supporters. Relationships are so key to fundraising and you just can’t build the same kind of relationship with a donor by emailing them.
A perfect example of this comes from early on in my career, I was in a 1:1 with the boss and she asked how many of my schools had banked their money from the recent fundraiser we had run. I was a little bit intimidated and not wanting to admit I had not bought the right info to the meeting I just blagged it and said, ‘oh about half’. Well, it became really obvious really quickly that this was not the right figure to guess at, I had clearly overestimated big time as she turned to me looking amazed and said, ‘wow that is brilliant, how did you achieve this? We must get everyone to do the same!’ The panic was now starting to set in, I wasn’t sure if this was the time to confess or if I should just carry on, so in for a penny in for a pound, I breezily replied, ‘I just called them all and asked them to bank their money and they did’ and figured I would deal with it afterwards.
Walking out of that meeting I realised I needed to make a plan and quick as I needed that 50% banking rate before our next meeting as she was bound to check. There was only one thing for it and that was to hit the phones.
So I did, I called every single school on my list, spoke to everyone about how it had gone and asked them to bank their money, running through their options with how to do it and had a general chat. Thankfully by my next catch up I had gone well over the 50% bank rate – phew!
The two big lessons I learnt that fortnight were: 1. Call your donors if you want to develop your relationship and get a positive response and 2. Don’t blag in your meetings as you could be setting yourself up for a pretty stressful time!
To this day whenever I am training or advising fundraisers I always push them to ditch the emails and actually speak to their donors and supporters. I know many people don’t love to do this and get really worried and nervous, I admit I don’t exactly leap for joy when faced with a long list of phone calls to make myself, but it really does work and it will transform your fundraising.
This means so much to me I have partnered with Sanita Guddu at Persuasion to run ‘How to Use the Telephone to Transform your Fundraising’. A 2 hour online course where we discuss how the telephone can be your friend, creative ways to use it and tackle the fears that are stopping you from picking up the phone. Find out more and sign up here: https://persuasion.org.uk/events/