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:
- Be yourself. Don’t be so casual you can be perceived as disrespectful. Just be you.
- Respect their time. Make it short. Follow up if you must (and you will). Make the time you spend your own.
- Make the ask and then shut up. Stop talking. Let them fill the space with the need to be kind (because most people are).
- Don’t expect an immediate answer. Most people have a chain of command to follow, even if they love you.
- Realize that you are not the only one asking them for something. Most of the businesses I call get hundreds of requests each month.
- 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!
Tags: building donor loyalty, creating real change, elevator speeches and nonprofits, fundraising strategies, marketing + fundraising, meaningful work, network like you mean it, special events for charity