Delving into the complex realm of telefundraising, Lise Taylor discovered the dos and don’ts of this area from a couple of experts in the field.


Telefundraising stay connectedTelefundraising is both an art and a  science, and getting all aspects of it right is imperative for success. F&P spoke with two telemarketing experts about their viewpoints and experience. They reveal how critical telefundraising has become to the sector and offer advice on the way forward for charities.

Cristian O’Sullivan, Client Services Director, MonDial

Integration is the word with us and our clients. We focus on maximising technology to speed up the process for debiting, transferring data and reporting on results, and sometimes the results come from the most and least expected places.
We find petition responder conversion campaigns generally perform well. These campaigns benefit from topical subject matter, for example threats to the environment or humanitarian/social issues. The passion of those signing the petition is matched by the fundraiser they are speaking with, which benefits the charity with new-found financial support as well as a sincere passion for the cause.
In our conversations with supporters the challenges remain the same: building sufficient rapport and developing a telephone call that may have come out of the blue to a point where a supporter can connect with the cause we are representing… and all in the space of a few, short minutes.
When converting one-off givers to regular givers, however, response rates vary. The median conversion response range would be 5 to 15%, although exceptions either side of this do occur. A number of factors will impact on response rates such as acquisition source, number of donations, their value, the fundraising proposition, the timing of the call and whether the supporter has received conversion calls previously.
Response rates also vary in relation to upgrading regular givers to higher levels of giving. The median upgrade response range would be 25 to 40%, again with exceptions either side of this. Average gift levels similarly vary – in the main we see increases of 30 to 40% of the previous gift value. More frequently, as regular giving databases have developed, we are seeing a steady increase in the ratio of long-term donors to those more recently acquired donors.

Key piece of advice

Get engaged with your telephone program. Ask questions of your agency or in-house team. Telephone fundraisers love what they do and are excited to talk about it. It is an evolving blend of data, technology, motivation and conversation that makes this method of fundraising effective but complex. Results are close to instant but it is also controllable. There is a wealth of knowledge, experience and fundraising skill within most telephone teams. Much can be learned and used to refocus your fundraising programs.

The future

The communications world is rapidly developing. Advancements such as webchat applications linked to social media and the potential for using SMS/text to donate are brimming with possibilities.
Adopting technology and developing these channels is a new frontier although it certainly poses new challenges for human-to-human fundraising. However, as fast as the new comes along, the older systems are still relevant and effective: campaigns involving direct mail conversion and calls made to landlines are still delivering great results and regular givers.

Mel Jenkins, Managing Director , 2evolve

We are seeing an increasing number of our clients balance their telefundraising activities across both acquisition and retention programs. Of course, lead conversion and acquisition have been hot favourites for a few years now and we have seen huge growth in this area. The trouble is that as more and more charities are using lead conversion to acquire new regular givers, finding good quality and sustainable lead sources seems to be a challenge for charities in the market right now.
In great news, organisations are looking for regular giving growth from within their databases. We are achieving excellent results in calling donors, lapsed regular givers and donors, online or petition leads, current or lapsed members and raffle donors.
Our deeply lapsed reactivations programs are even successfully reactivating lapsed regular givers who last gave 10 years ago – and at a cost that rivals new. Of course, it only makes sense to continue acquiring from within until the return on investment doesn’t stack up compared to external sources.  
Telefundraising has become a critical component of a diversified regular giving strategy and there has been significant growth in all programs that can acquire/convert/reactivate regular givers in Australia and New Zealand.
We have also seen a shift from short-term revenue growth to the importance of lifetime value of supporters in the sector. Nothing beats a regular phone call to steward and nurture long-term relationships with supporters. Of course, these also offer the opportunity to upgrade the value of the gift, but equally important is the positive impact it has on retention.

Key piece of advice

If I had to offer one piece of advice to charities on telefundraising it would be to vision how this medium can inspire and engage donors with your cause. Think outside the transactional benefits it offers and see it as one human being talking to another human being about the amazing difference they make to your beneficiaries. 

The future

We get asked a lot about what the next big thing in telefundraising is and, to be frank, there’s no magic bullet out there. Regular giving growth comes from integrating revenue protection programs like declines management and upgrade, replacement activities like reactivations, and growth through acquisition and conversion activities.  
A comprehensive fundraising strategy will have phone as an essential part of the mix. This will protect an organisation’s investment in growth and maximise donor engagement for the long term.


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