Why the power of a conversation can’t be underestimated

Picture of a telephone

Guest Bloggers | 13 February 2019

Today we have published our guide on the effective use of telephone fundraising. Cristy Cunnick, Alex Weeks-Smyth and David Walwin from Ethicall, which supported the publication of A Good Call: Using the Telephone for Successful Fundraising, explain why telephone fundraising is still a valuable channel.

Since the late 80’s telephone fundraising has been an important part of many charities’ fundraising toolkits. It has always been a powerful and versatile way to engage with supporters. For anyone who buys into the philosophy of relationship fundraising, there are few better ways to build and nurture those relationships.

Those of us involved with telephone fundraising since this time have been on a journey, – and the publication of ‘A Good Call’ today is a good moment to reflect on what’s changed and look ahead to the future for telephone fundraising.

Looking back over almost 30 years, the use of the telephone was at times focused too much on short-term gain – ‘churning’ a database (to use direct marketing terminology) which resulted in a pressure on quick results and an emphasis on a more transactional approach of securing an immediate gift while relationship fundraising and stewardship took a back seat. Reflecting back now, we think we were all probably setting ourselves up for a fall. And with the triple whammy of the 2015 fundraising stories, the arrival of the Fundraising Regulator, and the introduction of GDPR, it forced all organisations to take a long hard look at not just their data, but about the whole culture and approach that we should be taking in our fundraising.

The findings from the IoF survey show that while telephone fundraising is still a fundamental part of fundraising strategies, there is some work to do to increase confidence and awareness in charities about how they can be successfully using the telephone. Organisations are still a little startled by the glare of GDPR, and some are still feeling their way back into telephone fundraising following the events of the last few years.

'Regulation and legislation are not an insurmountable barrier'

We are glad to have worked with the IoF to support this guide which will help charities recover their confidence and raise awareness of how charities can be responsible, proactive, and compliant in their use of the telephone. We hope that it shows that regulation and legislation are not an insurmountable barrier, and that by planning campaigns carefully, whether in house or working with a partner, they can use the telephone successfully and in a way that will strengthen relationships with supporters.

Donor stewardship and relationship building are, rightly, current buzzwords, and charities are finally starting to walk the walk of long-termism and recognising that lifetime value is only maximised through outstanding supporter care, and nurturing of relationships.

Let’s not forget, when you give to a charity you don’t physically get anything in return for your money. That means that the customer care, communication, and the relationship is everything. A real conversation, personally thanking and explaining how support is being used can be a vital part of that and potentially the best thing that someone gets from supporting a charities work. The conversation and the positive feeling it can give to a supporter is the product.

'Technology may take over'

It is quite feasible that technology may take over in terms of administering the relationship, the transactional side  making, and even soliciting, donations. A well-timed conversation however is one of the few ways the supporter can get real value back from their support. Hearing first hand, with enthusiasm, passion and empathy, what is being achieved on their behalf. Technology can’t ever replace that.

We know that good use of the telephone is a vital tool for fundraisers and one of the few that delivers genuine one to one conversations which add immense value to the depth and longevity of supporter relationships.

We hope the publication of this guide will help organisations consider how they can confidently and proactively use the telephone to contribute to delivering outstanding and passionate, long-term focused, fundraising.

Download A Good Call: Using the Telephone for Successful Fundraising here.

Cristy Cunnick, Managing Director, Ethicall
Alex Weeks-Smyth, Client Services Director, Ethicall
David Walwin, Communications & Compliance Director, Ethicall



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