2 Things to Improve Your Phonathon Fulfillment

pledge_cubesPledges and pledge dollars are great metrics early in the year for the phonathon, but by the last quarter we all want gifts and dollars in the door. Below are some tips and strategies to ensure you improve your phonathon fulfillment potential before the end of your fiscal year.

# 1: Understand the Fulfillment Gap

  • Are online gifts made by pledgers being credited accurately to the phonathon pledge?
  • Are the “donors” that pledged on the last ask of the phone call really fulfilling?
  • Are you tracking fulfillment accurately for 2nd gift prospects that pledged?
  • Which constituents (non-donors, young alumni, etc.) are struggling to fulfill?
  • Are you writing off pledges and inflating your fulfillment results?
  • What about those parents that weren’t entered into your CRM until after they made a gift…can you track their fulfillment? Do you maybe have an issue with id’s between those that pledged and those that gave not matching with this group?

If you look at the questions above and don’t know the answers, now is the time to make sure you understand what’s really happening with fulfillment. It’s important to know if there are gaps in your fulfillment reporting that need to be closed or if you have groups that seem to be underperforming that need more reminders before the fiscal year closes. Assessing the areas of opportunity is the first step in taking action both in the last couple months of this year and for the start of the next fiscal year.

#2: Evolve Your Fulfillment Strategy

30-60-90 day reminders are so 1999. So if you find yourself using “30-60-90’s” as your prime fulfillment strategy, it’s time to evolve.

Evolving in the world of fulfillment means more reminders via all channels earlier in the process. It can also mean that you are going to remind people that have a “check in the mail” and you have to figure out your organization’s tolerance for potential complaints. You also have to make sure your gift processing team is not behind in processing gifts.

Here are a few things we’ve been doing and recommending to help our clients evolve their fulfillment strategy:

  • Use Video in Next Day Pledge Emails: Video in email can boost open rates by 20% and increase click-through rates 2-3X. Imagine if 2x to 3x more of those receiving your email instantly fulfilled their gift online.
  • Early Email Reminder: We live in a full channel world where consumers have come to expect that companies will coordinate messages across channels. Fundraising should do the same. If you know pledge cards are going to be in mail boxes 5-7 days after they are mailed, use an email reminder that references their pledge card 10-15 days after the pledge date.
  • Higher Credit Card Fulfillment Equals Better Overall Fulfillment: We all know higher credit card rates lead to higher fulfillment. Think about how to get more assumptive and consistent with credit card asks. Use the fiscal year end as a reason why people should fulfill their gift tonight. Not convinced that credit cards have an impact? Check out the current FY15 results from our on-campus programs to see the impact credit card fulfillment is having with the donor group that’s least likely to fulfill.pledgeccrates
  • Mobile Responsive Giving Page: Using email to drive fulfillment doesn’t have much of an impact if your giving page isn’t mobile responsive. Make sure you’ve made it easy as possible for those with outstanding pledges to fulfill.
  • Liarbunts: There are many reasons why pledgers don’t fulfill, but identifying those that pledge every year (at least the past 3) and never fulfill is important. As the fiscal year end closes, identify these people and assign your best credit card callers to those reminder calls.
  • Revolving Reminder Calls: You should be utilizing reminder calls all year, but considering we are near the fiscal year end, prioritize these calls to focus on those that pledged in the past few months, not 10 months ago. Also focus on those with higher pledge amounts and all your first time donors.
  • Shortened Reminder Cycle: To someone who pledges tonight, their last reminder likely want be received until well in the new fiscal year. Consider shortening your reminder cycle to ensure this year’s pledgers actually become donors before you close the books on FY15. Don’t underestimate the value in a couple last chance e-reminders in the last week of the fiscal year.
  • Reminder Messaging: It’s a great time to look at your verbiage on direct mail and email reminders and make minor edits to increase the urgency of why gifts are needed by the fiscal year end.

Every fiscal year is built on the foundation of the previous year. Make sure you are starting next year with the largest foundation of donors and dollars by maximizing your fulfillment efforts now.

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Josh Robertson

Vice President of Product Strategy at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Josh has over 17 years of experience in the industry, oversees fundraising strategy, analytics and product development and has worked with over 100+ institutions.
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