Raising funds for charities and not for profits is a good thing, a really good thing.
These organisations exist because there is a real need for the work they do and that costs money. Typically there is little or no funding from government so the money to pay for their existence relies entirely on the generosity of others. There are many ways for these groups to “reach out” and ask for help and donations and they all have a place within any well thought out fundraising plan. Of course some are more effective than others and some come with potential pitfalls or issues.
Face to face fundraising
This method is probably the most obvious, whether it’s fundraisers knocking on the door of your home, meeting you in the street or in a shopping centre.
This is very effective way to get a message out there and is a great source of new donations and supporters. There are few issues to consider, face-to-face contact with people can be a wonderful experience but it can also be a little intimidating and an invasion of your personal space.
There is also the risk of “over-zealous” fundraisers stretching the facts and saying or doing anything just to get a new supporter on board.
Posting information and requests for support of a good cause has been a very successful route for many years and still remains a preferred option for some organisations and potential donors. It’s a clear way to get the facts out and of course, a picture paints a thousand words.
However, postage is costly, the time to fulfill packs and process returned paperwork is time consuming and of course there is the environmental impact of using so much print and paper.
TV is a great vehicle to obtain support, carefully thought out images, compelling voice over and written facts on screen. This method is very costly and I don’t know about you but I find some of those ads quite upsetting. I know that’s the point but I don’t like the typical main message which is “guilt someone into giving”. Of course you can switch channels or blank it out, this method still relies on someone being moved enough to “do something”, to call a number or go online.
Web and digital ads
If the right balance is struck you can achieve a lot of exposure for not too much money, catching a surfer shopping with their card in their hand, and with the right message a donation is just a click away. This route as with others is quite easy for a potential donor to click away and simply ignore, the screen is offering so many other more pleasant images and messages a user’s eye can easily become distracted.
Since its invention in 1876 the telephone has been connecting people all over the world and provides an easy channel to “speak” with potential supporters of a cause. You get all the benefits of human interaction but without personal space being invaded or feeling intimidated, the option to simply hang up is always there as a security blanket.
As an organisation needing to raise funds, the key issue is ensuring you use the right agency, a group of professionals who behave responsibly and ethically. Fundraising is about getting the balance right between a great sales pitch, generating cause awareness and good manners.
Using the telephone you can record every conversation that is made, no more worrying about what has been said, you can hear and digest everything that a good professional agency is doing for you. Good fundraisers also work to an approved script, it wouldn’t be possible or sensible to try and script for every possible comment on a call so a telephone fundraiser needs to be well trained and coached to ensure the right words and approach are always used.
The telephone is also immediate, after a good well balanced and compelling conversation someone gets to make the decision there and then to support. We all mean to support things when we see posters, a web advert, or a person in the street but with life becoming busier than ever, we forget or continually put something off. Most people have a mobile telephone these days, we are all much more accessible, having a chat whilst on the train, at your desk, on your lunch break or even while out walking the dog?
Ok, it’s not “the perfect fundraising method”, I’m not sure that even exists, and there are some fundraising companies that employ pushy sales tactics, out and out sales people that only really care about getting the next person on board regardless of their circumstance or the cause they are calling for.
I know that some people just hate receiving cold telephone calls so some feathers will always get ruffled with a telephone fundraising campaign, but again pick the right agency who represents your cause professionally, treats everyone fairly and with empathy.
How to opt out?
As a telephone agency who only charges their clients based on the new supporters it generates, it is not in our interest to talk to people who really don’t want to be bothered.
There are usually three types of people to speak to, the people that hate receiving calls, those not interested in what has to be said and want you to go away, no problem we’ll go away.
There are people who get what you’re doing and how you’re doing it, and are happy to talk and are open to supporting. Then there is the vast majority, the middle ground people, the people who are on the fence, these wonderful people who perhaps don’t know how interested they are until they actually receive a call and have an informed chat with a fundraiser.
Those are the really beautiful people, they are the majority and they are the people we need to reach.