Cold-calling is a well-established fundraising method, but it’s also one of the scariest. Calling someone you don’t know and asking for money is anxiety-inducing, but it can be an effective way to meet your campaign goals…if you do it correctly!
Like asking for donations in person, cold-calling allows you to have a real discussion with your donors. Unlike face-to-face appeals, you don’t have the advantage of actually meeting the person you’re talking with. That doesn’t have to hamper your efforts, though!
Here are eight cold calling tips to help you next time you ask for donations over the phone.
Tips to Improve Your Cold Calls
1. Never Follow a Script
If you’ve been looking for ways to improve your cold calls, you’ve probably seen plenty of cold calling scripts out there. While it’s fine to use a script as a guide to keep your conversation on track and ensure you don’t forget anything, you should never read from a script during a cold call! It will be obvious that you’re reading from a script, which automatically makes the call seem off putting and less personal. You will lose them before you really get the chance to reel them in.
2. Ask If It’s a Good Time to Talk
Before jumping into your full introduction, ask if they have a minute or two to chat. We have our phones on us 24/7 and even when we answer, we may not have time to talk so it’s always a good idea to ask. If it’s not a good time, ask if there’s a better time you can try.
3. Introduce Yourself and Your Organization
After they’ve agreed to talk, introduce yourself and your organization, but keep it brief. Mention the work you do with your nonprofit, what your organization has accomplished this year, and what you’re planning to do next. This part of the call is a great time to use or perfect your nonprofit elevator pitch.
4. Ask Questions About Them
No one likes a one-sided conversation so be sure to let your potential donor do some of the talking! Ask about their interests, the causes they’ve supported in the past, how they like to donate, and other questions that come up naturally. As a fundraiser, you know that fundraising is built on relationships. This is the time to start building those relationships.
5. Find Common Ground
When you’re asking questions and learning more about your potential donors, try to find common ground. Whether it’s the fact that both of you support animal shelters because you have rescue dogs or that you went to the same college, a little common ground goes a long way!
6. Explain What You Plan to Accomplish
Now that you’ve established a rapport with your donor, they’ll be more open to hearing about your organization. This is your chance to be a champion for your cause. Go into more detail about the work your nonprofit has done and what you plan to do in the future. But don’t ask for a donation yet! You need to clearly explain your organization’s goals and how reaching those goals would impact the people you help.
7. Ask For the Donation
Finally, the ask. At this point, your potential donor will feel more connected to your organization and be more open to giving. The key to asking for donations is making it clear that the plans you’ve laid out aren’t possible without support from donors. After explaining your goals, this should feel natural.
8. No Matter the Outcome, Thank Them
Even if the call doesn’t end in a donation, be sure to thank them for their time and support. Just because they didn’t donate this time around doesn’t mean they won’t be open to it in the future. Leave them with a good impression of your nonprofit and keep building that relationship!
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