Fundraising can be a tricky job. Most people would rather face a hungry tiger than ask people for money. Unfortunately, it is a reality for nonprofits. Organizations may hold events and send mail or email appeals to ask for donations, but there will come a time when phone calls or in-person asks are the best way to fund a program or budget shortfall. Handy and well-prepared fundraising scripts become essential in such cases.
Many nonprofits don’t have the staff to ask for donations and will need to use board members and other volunteers to make these calls. Creating a fundraising phone call script will help these organizations address their volunteer’s fears and make asking for a donation easier.
This article provides steps, tactics, and samples your nonprofit needs to write each fundraising script and update the same for each donor type.
Fundraising scripts will have slight differences depending on the target of your calls, but each fundraising call should include the following steps. As you create your fundraising phone call script, remember the goal is to form or strengthen relationships with the donor. Look for ways to connect with the individual before sharing the need for their gift.
Start by addressing the donor by their name, give them yours, and mention your connection to the organization and the nonprofit’s name. It’s vital to share the organization’s purpose in the first few seconds. Remember to not take up too much time here and quickly move on to making a connection with the donor.
After you’ve shared what your organization does, now is the time to ask them a question about their experience with your nonprofit’s purpose. Or, if this is the first time you’re speaking to them, ask them a question about how they feel about your nonprofit’s cause in general. Try and understand their knowledge and feeling about the problem. This can be the best way to engage the potential donor in a conversation.
As they talk about their understanding of the cause, quip with some interesting or shocking data and facts related to the problem. That will pique their interest. Briefly tell them how your nonprofit is trying to address the problem and how the donations help. Use details that make you stand out and stick in their mind.
When asking for donations, always give specific amounts. Be sure to ask for amounts that fit the type of donor you call. Performing donor wealth research and segmentation beforehand would be helpful in this case.
Let them know what different ways you accept donations. If they’re willing to donate online, tell them you’ll send them an email with further instructions and links. Remember to not do this on the phone as they might get the spelling or the name of the website/donation page wrong and end up not donating at all.
Also, this is the right time for you to let them know about any upcoming fundraising events or campaigns they might be interested in.
Always end on a good note, even if they cannot give. In your fundraising script, add notes for other programs and campaigns that the donor can give to, if not this one. Add smaller suggested donation amounts for the caller to ask. Add details about the impact even a $10 gift can make and how it can add up to the overall donations collected. These details will help your caller tackle a difficult situation and not fumble in the case of a straight no. Irrespective of how they respond, always thank them for their time.
Pro tip: Include details of your call in a donor management database. Make it a norm for all those who make calls. Such details go a long way in building a bond and retaining donors. Donorbox helps you add communication notes to your donor records. You can select the direction of the communication (inbound, outbound, etc.), the channel, and add the details. Here’s how –
The following script templates are for 3 different fundraising calls you will make to donors. Each sample includes the same five steps but extra tips or suggestions to address common concerns for each donor type.
Acquisition calls can scare away many fundraisers. Like most cold calls, you will face a lot of hang-ups, but a script in your hands should help create a flow.
Since these are cold calls, you do not have much time or information before making these calls. One of the goals of these calls is to collect more information on potential donors. Even if someone says no, the details you add to your database for these people may help create a donor in the future.
You can use the downloadable script template to create your own script for acquisition cold calls.
Nonprofits must make reactivation calls to recurring donors that have ended their donations. Losing recurring donations will happen, but by making calls, your nonprofit may be able to reactivate some of these donors and repair any undisclosed damages to relationships with these donors.
Nonprofits that have spent time keeping a clean and detailed database will know when recurring donations have been canceled. Donorbox makes this process easy by listing moment alerts for nonprofits when any changes occur with these donations.
Before making reactivation calls, visit each donor’s profile and determine how much they used to donate and what programs they supported in the past. Once you have this information, you can use the following script template to create your own script.
Some donors will cancel because of financial reasons. Others may have had an experience with the organization that needs repair. By asking for their feedback, you let them know the organization cares, and you can begin a crucial conversation. Once again, even if they say no, you must add any pertinent information from your calls to your database.
Major donors are different from your other supporters. Your goal when contacting these donors is to ask them for significant amounts. Before asking for a gift, you must prepare and form a relationship with major donors. The best way to do this is with a moves management plan.
The following script sample can be used after much of the initial outreach has been accomplished. You should have already sent them details about the project you wish them to fund at this point in your relationship.
Objections from major donors do not always mean no. They may mean not now or for a different program. If you feel you’ve hit a brick wall, it is time to use the information you’ve already collected on the donor to build another path.
These 5 tactics will help you write a fundraising script that will actually work for getting more donations and igniting fruitful conversations.
There will be donors your caller will interact with for the first time or who have little knowledge of your organization. Also, those who have never given before or have no idea of the problem. In that case, your caller cannot go on to make an ask for a donation right after the introduction.
Your caller needs to engage the donors in an interesting conversation. They need to give them some facts and data that will shock them or help them understand the issue. In these cases, it is essential that your caller focuses on building a connection or a relationship with the donors. They should offer to email the case statement and impact report to the donors to gain trust and transparency. In the subsequent call, the caller should proceed with the ask when the donor is already abreast of the issue and your organization’s work.
Pro tip: Create different sections in your fundraising script depending on the type of donor and their past experience with the organization. A recurring donor would need a different approach from a one-time donor. And a one-time donor would need a different approach from one who has not yet made a donation.
Your caller needs to generate a sense of empathy in the donor. This can be achieved by sharing the number of victims or survivors you’re trying to help or maybe the condition of your recently-rescued animals; the suffering they have gone through; why they need urgent help.
The tone of your caller should be friendly and conversational. It should not sound like they’re reading out numbers just for the sake of it. The right way to ensure it is to tell real stories of beneficiaries. It doesn’t always have to be about the suffering. It can also be about the positive change that donations are bringing to their lives.
For example, if you run an animal shelter, tell donors a story about how a dog has gone from being terrified to living a happy, carefree life in the shelter home. This will give them a picture of the change they can help bring with a donation.
No matter how well your script is written, some donors will anyway say no. That may be because they cannot afford a donation right now or because they do not yet trust your organization, or cannot at all connect with the cause. You have to ensure that your callers are prepared for such scenarios. There are 3 to 4 possible scenarios you need to consider to start with – a plain no, confusion, an indirect no, a no after convincing for the second time.
A plain no usually gives your callers a chance to try and convince the donor. They can share more specific details about the problem and the beneficiaries, share the case statement, ask for a smaller amount, etc. Confusion will mean the donor cannot trust your organization yet. This again needs more convincing or maybe a call from one of the board members.
An indirect no is when a donor feels uneasy about saying no to the caller’s face but will not donate anyway. This can root in not being able to connect with the cause. In most cases, your caller will be able to sense it and can try to explain the cause or share information that might change their decision. They may even invite the donor to attend an upcoming event in person to feel more engaged and connected with the organization.
A no that comes after convincing for the second time usually needs to be taken wholeheartedly. Your caller should take any feedback the donor has to share, note down details, and move on until the next time.
This requires homework on the donor database. Before a caller makes a call to a recurring or one-time donor, they need to check the donor database to find out their donation history. It’s good practice to have it open in front of them as they indulge in a conversation with the donor. That way, quickly after the introduction, the caller can thank them for their last donation. They can mention how the donation helped. Maybe even share some specific numbers. For E.g. how many meals were served to needy families? This will give the conversation a good start. Your donor will immediately feel connected.
Some donors are turned off when they feel that the call is just another donation request. This tactic will help you gain their trust, make them comfortable, and then make the ask.
As you can see, fundraising calls are different for different donor types. It is crucial to prepare for each of these calls and adapt your requests to the individual. The more information you collect on each of these donors, the better your chance of receiving the donation. Even if they do not give during your call, you can increase the chances of receiving their gift in the future by adding additional details you found during your call.
Donorbox can help nonprofits collect information received during these calls with its powerful donor management system. You can add communication notes to your donor records during/after each call, track donations, check important moments, and more. Donorbox is also an all-in-one fundraising solution helping 50,000+ nonprofits across the globe with simple-to-use fundraising features like recurring donation forms, online fundraising pages, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer fundraising, membership campaigns, event ticketing, text-to-give, and more. To learn about our features, visit the website.
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