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Making use of telephone fundraising during Covid-19

Making use of the telephone during Covid-19

Some forms of fundraising such as public event and face-to-face fundraising have had to stop during the coronavirus pandemic because of social distancing regulations.

If your charity was using these channels, it’s likely you’ve already shifted focus to other channels such as digital, to minimise loss of fundraising income.

However, one channel that could provide greater help at the moment is the telephone.

A key benefit of using the telephone is that teams can and do work from home, so for most telephone fundraising agencies, it is likely to be business as usual. And because people are at home more now than ever, the chances of successful contact are much higher.

As the coronavirus is impacting everyone in some way, this is, of course, a time for increased sensitivity with people worried about their family, friends, and finances. As a result, many are also feeling a great deal of empathy for charities and the work they do, and despite their own worries, are still keen to support them.

In fact, some telephone fundraising agencies are already reporting an uplift in activity. Brighton based agency Purity has reported that its hourly contact rates up by 12%, and charities are seeing considerable increases in money raised.

Helen Mackenzie, founder and CEO of Purity, explains how her agency is responding to the Covid-19 crisis, saying,

“As a result of the insight Rapidata has been able to give the sector on the sudden increase in Direct Debit cancellations and the impact of regular giving, we’ve already been asked to start more ‘thank you’ calling; with our fundraisers now able to offer the options of a payment holiday or a reduction in a regular donation in order to safe guard supporters rather than lose them.

“Overall, we’re experiencing an amazing level of generosity from members of the public still wanting to give, and to non-coronavirus related causes. We’re seeing significantly uplifted results through digital acquisition as well as supporter development, even upgrades. We’re monitoring supporter responses carefully to ensure messaging fits the current circumstances; but people are being incredibly positive about being called with some of those struggling with isolation pleased to have the contact and a chance to talk, even if they cannot make a gift. Their feedback alone is important intelligence, it really is a critical time for charities to be checking-in with their supporters.”

Ben Suffell, managing director at telephone fundraising agency QTS Fundraising also shares his agency’s positive experience in the current climate:

“We’re seeing an increase in our contact rate, as people are at home more, and the results, overall, are good and stable. Supporters are talking to us about coronavirus and understand why we are contacting them, and that telephone is a good way to reach them in such peculiar times. In challenging times, the public tend to become very giving and I would expect this trend to continue for the next six months, possibly longer.”

Getting the most from telephone fundraising

A phone call provides a number of valuable opportunities when communicating with your supporters, so here are some tips on using it effectively during the pandemic:

  1. Use the phone to update your supporters quickly and efficiently about what is happening to your charity, and the impact the pandemic is having on it, as well as on your beneficiaries and the case for support.
  1. It’s a chance to deepen your relationship with supporters by showing them how you value them, talking through the impact of their donations, as well as asking how they are feeling when so many are isolated, lonely and worried. It’s also a lovely, personal way to say thank you – for their ongoing support, and in particular for continuing to provide it during these difficult times.
  1. To avoid losing supporters when many will be looking at where they can reduce their outgoings, use calls to offer supporters more control over their giving. If they express concerns over their finances or are considering cancelling, give them options such as changing the amount they give, or a payment holiday instead.
  1. Inform and strengthen your communications and fundraising strategies by taking the opportunity to gather feedback on how your supporters view your charity, what they’re most interested in hearing about just now, and valuable insight into how they’re feeling about their charitable giving during the current crisis.
  1. Last but not least, don’t forget to ensure your calls are compliant with fundraising regulations, so be sure you take care to recognise people in vulnerable circumstances, and check you have a lawful basis for contacting people.

For more help on making good calls, the Institute of Fundraising has a useful and free downloadable guide on its site.

Above all, a call lets you have a conversation that can build rapport and understanding, strengthening that all-important relationship between charity and supporter. And during these current and strange times, it’s a wonderful way to connect that can truly benefit both sides.

Read more from our Covid-19 resources hub >