Josh has over 17 years of experience in the industry, oversees fundraising strategy, analytics and product development and has worked with over 70+ institutions.
Latest posts by Josh Robertson (see all)
In a time when budgets are tight and it’s increasingly tough to capture donors, making good solicitations isn’t enough to increase your annual giving results. It takes great solicitations. Phonathon is a perfect example: Putting skilled callers on the phone with a compelling message alone won’t generate the results you want. The work you do before and after the call is crucial.
After consulting and helping hundreds of institutions that are managing their own phonathon program, we noticed a pattern. We saw consistent gaps in call preparation and follow up after calls were made. So we developed RNL Accelerator, which uses a combination of data enrichment, donor warming, and stewardship to fill these communication gaps and boost phonathon performance. The strategy comes from years of experience with small and large programs, as well as research into our database of more than $1 billion in successful phonathon solicitations.
5 steps for increasing your annual giving results
The RNL Accelerator approach uses five steps that pave the way for a successful call and increase fulfillment of pledges from donors.
The idea behind the RNL Accelerator method for boosting a phone program’s results is to enhance each phase prior to and following a call. First, you can complete calls to and actually speak with more prospective donors because you have more accurate contact information for a greater number of your records. Then adding mail and e-mail engagement before the call offers a substantial boost as donors are “warmed” to the idea of giving. And for those who do not give a credit card right on the phone, you need to get the gift in. Providing prompt, direct and easy-to-complete fulfillment materials is crucial. Finally, we experimented with thanking donors and found that contact and response results were significantly increased the next year.
Here’s how this might play out in one segment of a phone program, with 10,000 completed calls:
||Potential – After Accelerator
|Contact Rate (actually reaching donors)
|Stewardship Effect in Year 2
|Expected Dollars Year 2
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Too often, programs decline or lose growth opportunity not because the institution, callers, and scripts aren’t great, but because the work hasn’t been done before and after the call to put together a great solicitation.[/pullquote]
Under this model, the donation dollars have doubled by the second year. Not to mention a great increase in donors, which could help this institution meet participation goals.
Your results could be very different based on the quality of your data, who you are calling, other communications you are sending and other factors, but what I’m trying to show here is that the results increase very quickly because of the combined effect of multiple “boosts” to the preparation, engagement, and follow up with donors.
When you consider how many people per hour your callers are likely to speak to, and the significant investment you are already making, it’s absolutely crucial that you get the highest possible return. Too often, we find that programs decline or lose growth opportunity not because the institution, callers, and scripts aren’t great, but because the work hasn’t been done before and after the call to put together a great solicitation.
It’s the difference between “phoning it in” and “phoning it great.”
And perhaps the most important thing: calls that come with great context, personalization, follow up and stewardship provide more joy to donors. Which means that in the long run, you will have more of them.
Assess your phonathon with our free scorecard
Take our short survey and receive a phonathon scorecard. You’ll see how your program compares to other phonathon programs, based on our database of $1 billion in successful solicitations. Click to start.