Guest blog: Jeroen Hogenhout – Telephone Fundraising Specialist
Since 2009 Jeroen has worked with his company Hogenhout Fundraising Support as a specialist in the field of donor communication and telephone fundraising. He initiates and supervises fundraising campaigns and provides communication advice and training. He has also created a podcast series ‘Jeroen ontmoet’, in which he talks with colleagues about fundraising and communication. He regularly publishes articles and blogs.
Legacy fundraising and telemarketing: how to do it
The telephone is a medium which can help you reach a relatively large number of people, while keeping every conversation personal. If you want to talk to people who might consider including your charity in their will, the telephone is therefore ideal.
With excellent preparation, briefing and guidance during the campaign, it is possible to outsource conversations with potential pledgers to an external telemarketing agency. Phone calls with donors or members is a skill, and a few written instructions won’t get you there, but the tips below can help you if you want to initiate a telemarketing campaign on legacies.
Tip 1 – The right approach
The most important tip is to think in advance about your approach, your sincere intentions. Potential pledgers are often already loyal donors. These people are the most valuable donors of your organisation. They don’t deserve to be bothered after their already consistent support, especially not in the form of asking for their legacy. Loyal support should be rewarded. The approach should be to provide people with the best possible service and information when they make well-considered and sensitive choices about their legacy, even if that means not including your charity.
Tip 2 – Choose a specialized agency
An agency that exclusively works for non-profits speaks the language of charities. These companies only employ fundraisers, and do not call for commercial assignments like energy or telephone subscriptions. The choice of agency therefore has a major influence on the quality of the conversations. A logical requirement is that the agents calling have life experience. A young student cannot share the same empathy and understanding for the subject as a 65-year-old, who would like to remain active and is still working.
Tip 3 – Step by step
You cannot achieve your objectives with a telemarketing campaign in one conversation. This has to be done step by step:
- If you don’t already have one, develop a brochure about gifts in wills for your organisation.
- Make a well-considered choice about which people you would like to approach and ask whether they would be interested in that brochure. You can do this, for example, by analyzing the profile of existing pledgers.
- First call, presenting the brochure: By asking the right questions, it becomes clear which of the people are interested. Send them the brochure within a week.
- Second call, a few weeks after receiving the brochure: The recipient is asked if the brochure has been received in good order, if they have any questions or if there is more information they would like to receive. For example, by telephone call or a personal conversation with you or the legacy coordinator of your organization. This puts you in direct contact with the people who consider taking next steps. Anyone else still has the brochure with your contact details at home for when they are ready.
Tip 4 – The importance of high-quality communication
In conversations about a sensitive topic like this, nuances are of great importance. Incorrect wording of a question may be interpreted by your donor as a direct reference to his or her end of life, from which the charity also wishes to benefit. This is of course not the intention and because of that careful preparation, a good script or guideline, a clear briefing of the callers as well as continuous and attentive guidance is necessary.
Tip 5 – Don’t hand over the responsibility
The last tip is, therefore, to not let the agency sit in the driver’s seat. Do it yourself! Correct wording, an appropriate tone and a real connection and understanding between donor and caller, is not at all guaranteed. Since the chosen agency is the facilitator and will attempt to meet your wishes, it is necessary that you take responsibility for the script. Even if you don’t actually write it yourself. After all, you have to recognize your organization’s uniqueness in the conversations. It is also important to listen to and monitor the conversations and to stay in regular contact with the agency. Not only with the manager, but also with the callers because they are the ones that talk to your most valuable donors.
Using telephone conversations as a medium to talk to your supporters about gifts in wills is, after all, not a matter of fundraising; rather, it’s more about donor care and relationship management. You help and advise people on a sensitive subject. This helps both the charity and the donor. Outsourcing has the advantage that you can reach many people, but it only works if it is done with the greatest possible care and expertise, and that you remain in the driver’s seat.