Saturday, 28 April 2012

7 principles of telephone fundraising scripts

A really good friend and ex-client is writing a book about monthly giving. She asked me to write a chapter on telephone fundraising. Something I was more than happy to do.

The script was one of the most difficult things to get right, so what follows are my thoughts and notes on how to deliver the best telephone fundraising scripts.

I hope it's useful...

The script is critical to success. All your learning from previous activity should be included in the script you produce for each campaign you run. A great telephone fundraising script needs to deliver in seven key areas:

1. Introduction

A strong introduction is vital and serves as the fundraiser’s opportunity to convey passion, trust and urgency. However, this is as much about fundraiser delivery as the words you write. Be very clear about the level of formality you want from your fundraisers, make sure you introduce your organisation and ask for permission to continue. Don’t assume you have the right to talk to the donor until you have asked.

2. Icebreaker

You can use icebreakers to inform the fundraiser on the direction to take in the rest of the call. For example, should they use a statistical logic based case for giving or an emotional case study led case for giving? A good icebreaker can help the fundraiser make this decision, so if you use one, think carefully about how to phrase it - an icebreaker that can simply lead to the response ‘no’ will not do the trick!

Icebreakers are not always required. What is always required is interaction between fundraiser and donor. If the supporter has not said anything before the end of the first ask, they are not very likely to give.

3. Case for giving

As with all fundraising communications the case for giving is vital. However, with the telephone you need to articulate it in speech alone – there are no emotive pictures to fall back on. Because of this your message needs to be simple, powerful and clearly demonstrate the need for long term support. Above all it must be short. I used to have a rule that from the opening of the call to the end of the first ask should be no more than 300 words. Set your own rule and stick to it, if your case for support is too long and complicated – your supporters will not give.

4. Ask

Be very clear on how much you are asking for and how you want your supporters to donate. I wouldn’t recommend any more than three asks e.g. two monthly giving asks and a cash donation ask or three monthly giving asks.

5. Confirmation

This is a very important aspect of every telephone fundraising call. The fundraiser should confirm back to the donor exactly what they have agreed to and exactly what is going to happen next. Complaints typically originate from fundraisers who have left an element of uncertainty in this area.

6. Data Capture

When planning your campaign, consider what other things information you want to capture in addition to the call outcome. Are you looking for mobile telephone number, an opinion, email address or some other form of data? Be very careful that you don’t overwhelm the donor with a long list of requests for personal data. It’s very easy to create the impression that all you want is information from them, so make it a two way interaction and offer them some information on something that interests them. Whatever you do, make sure you have a process for ensuring whatever you say will happen, happens.

7. Close

Make sure your donors feel more positive about you at the end of the call than at the beginning irrespective of the call outcome. In fact it’s more important that those people who cannot help at this time feel the most positive about you and the call.

And one last thing. Make sure you're equipping your fundraisers to talk to the 'whole supporter', they need to know the full extent of the relationship each person they call has with you. If the supporter is a regular giver, a legacy pledger and a volunteer, your fundraiser needs to know, so they can thank them for everything that they do for you - not just the silo you think they are in. There's probably a whole other blog post on that subject.


  1. A brilliant guide to telephone fundraising however some donaters dont like the fact that they are being spoken to via a script

  2. Not only is telephone fundraising beneficial to the charity, but also the use of social media and advertising that way can really help boost the amount of donors a charity has!