The Fundraising Strategist

fundraising on purpose

call me



Planning is good. Planning gives you perspective. Sometimes though, all the planning in the world cannot replace simply picking up the phone and making a well placed call. I used to be afraid of making “cold calls” but then I came to love them, mostly because the majority of people are terrified to making a phone call to a near-stranger, so I figure I’m already ahead of 99% of my competition just by picking up the phone.

So, there I was just an hour ago, making calls, reaching out to past event sponsors and potentially new event sponsors.  Here is how about 25% of those calls went:

Me: “Hi, I’m calling for Harold Neuberger. Is he there?”

Receptionist: “Yes, he is! Can I tell him who’s calling?”

Me: “Yes. Cynthia, from Beloved Charities.”

Receptionist: “Just a minute.” (pause) “Um, he just left the office. Would you like his voicemail?”

Was he really there? Of course he was! I really don’t mind getting the bum’s rush. It gives me chance to practice my One Minute Message. Just like I don’t mind when I call people and they don’t call me back. When I finally do get them on the phone, they are so apologetic for their rude behavior they are willing to agree to almost anything I suggest. Fun!

Here’s the deal. Fundraising is like sales. You have to factor in a certain percentage of failure. It’s just how it is. It isn’t personal. In fact statistically, every NO you get brings you closer to a YES.  And isn’t that worth a little rejection? Here are six simple rules to help you make fundraising calls more successfully:

  1. Be yourself. Don’t be so casual you can be perceived as disrespectful. Just be you.
  2. Respect their time. Make it short. Follow up if you must (and you will). Make the time you spend your own.
  3. Make the ask and then shut up. Stop talking. Let them fill the space with the need to be kind (because most people are).
  4. Don’t expect an immediate answer. Most people have a chain of command to follow, even if they love you.
  5. Realize that you are not the only one asking them for something. Most of the businesses I call get hundreds of requests each month.
  6. Thank them. Even if they say NO. Because manners matter. . .and next time might be YES.

That’s it! Now get out there and start dialing for dollars!


Categories: blog, charity, fundraising news, marketing, nonprofit fundraising, perspectives, public service

Tags: , , , , , , ,

2 replies

  1. Great post. Fundraising is a tough job! I’ve done it and it’s not easy to ask others for money. You make some great points for ‘cold calls!’


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s