Ben Coverdale shares how listening to telefundraisers highlights the importance of not giving up, saying thanks, and talking like a human.

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Ben Coverdale
shares how listening to telefundraisers highlights the importance of not giving up, saying thanks, and talking like a human.

TelephoneAs any great charity marketer knows, telemarketing is effective for raising money and advocacy. But this week when I joined a client’s telemarketing team, I found there’s a lot more to learn from telemarketers than I originally thought.

Here are the three main things I took away:

1: Never give up! Fundraising is a numbers game. 

Like with telemarketing, there are techniques and strategies that give your fundraising the best chance of working, such as telling stories that relate to your market or asking for money in your particular way.

But what my excursion showed is that nothing – and I mean nothing – can do more for your fundraising than your will to never give up.

I asked one telefundraiser how he kept going in the face of consistent rejection and he said: “I know in my mind that it’s a numbers game. Every ‘no’ just brings me closer to the next ‘yes’.”

2: Always start with a thank you.

Of all the calls I overheard, not one person hung up on the thank-you. And why would you? It’s a kind, sincere, polite start to a conversation. And you simply can’t overuse it.

You could start by saying thank you for picking up the phone sir; thank you for giving your time to read this letter; thank you for your last donation of $50; thank you for allowing us to send you an e-mail; or thank you for visiting my website after reading my sponsored feature (Ha!).

Studies suggest that being grateful can also improve your own wellbeing, physical health, social relationships and stress levels. So it’s a win-win for all involved!

3: No one is a statistic.

During my listening time I was impressed how each call had its own nuances, depending on the needs of the person on the line.

It reminded me that behind all the graphs and numbers and analytics we use are real people with real lives who have real concerns about the world.

We nonprofit folks can fall into the trap of thinking our donors should be devoted to the cause 24/7. And when they place other priorities in front of our to-do list, we can be a little disappointed.

It’s our job to see through the numbers, connect to our donors on a human level and give them a way to make the world better for them.

My two cents

Listening to telefundraisers was a great experience. It gave me a new appreciation for the tough work they do and reminded me that by never giving up, saying thank you and talking like a human, we can all serve our donors and ourselves better!

Ben Coverdale is a Creative Director of March One. Working with amazing people in an industry that achieves incredible things makes Ben feel like the luckiest person in the world.

March One (phone 02-8425 4711) is Australia’s fastest growing fundraising agency. Our mission is to leave behind a better world. We use a hands-on approach to deliver best practice strategies with exceptional execution for Cancer Council NSW, Children’s Medical Research Institute, UNICEF, The Heart Foundation, UNHCR and more.



Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at






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