Cold Calling By Any Other Name…

Posted by on Jun 14, 2012 | 0 comments

Let’s face it.

Cold calling by any other name is still….cold calling.

What’s amazing to me is the fact that there are actually some people a few who like to place these calls. Anyone that does like to cold call has a very thick skin and knows how to work the numbers, i.e., isn’t discouraged by 72 hang ups and 55 negative responses out of 150 calls, they are focused on the 23 who listened, and of those 23, the 10 who promised support of some kind.

And let’s be clear: a follow-up call following an introductory mailing is technically NOT a cold call since the person we are calling was given a head’s up that we would call in the letter, but if we are honest with ourselves, it’s still….cold calling.

There is a slight difference between cold calling anonymously (identifying yourself as someone representing the organization) and as yourself (identifying yourself as so-and-so, the such-and-such from this nonprofit organization). But either one is still….cold calling.

So how can we warm up both the caller and the called in this sometimes “chilly” first time phone conversation?

Let’s start with legalities: the FCC Do-Not-Call list does not apply to nonprofit organizations. This means that nonprofits can legally call anyone whose name is on the Do-Not-Call list. Legally.

Think about that. Do you really think it’s a good idea? Is calling someone on the FCC DNC list JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN going to help you create a warm, trusting, honest, long-term relationship with that person?

I think not.

Ethically, in my opinion, nonprofits should respect the request for privacy by those who have requested their names be placed on the FCC DNC list.

  • So the first effort to warm up this effort is to call people who have indicated an interest in our organization or maybe expressed an interest in talking to us.

Next,  let’s talk about you. As this article reminds us, cold calling is not for the faint of heart. If you don’t like to cold call (and really, who does?), you shouldn’t be calling anyone.  If you do like to cold call, I would like to meet you. Honestly. You are a rare breed and your techniques would be useful to the remaining 99% of fundraisers (that’s an estimate).

  • So the second strategy to warm up your organization’s cold call campaign is to make certain the right people are making your calls (and the wrong people are not). Don’t waste your board member time and don’t use staff members who hate to cold call.

And finally, let’s talk about relationships. Cold calling is like the very worst blind date you have ever had or heard of (YouTube has some pretty funny “blind date” videos). It’s the rare long term relationship that began with a blind date. And since cold calls have the lowest rate of success of all fundraising techniques, who you call is extremely important. Don’t waste solid leads on cold calling since it may not be your best effort in beginning strong donor relationships.

  • So the third technique to warm up  your cold calling is to determine your call list very carefully. Target past event attendees who may not have made a donation, and past donors who have lapsed. Use cold calling to reconnect. After a year of no contact, reconnecting with a past potential donor or donor by phone is still….cold calling.

And no matter who calls, who you are calling, or why – make it simple, listen carefully, respect the caller, and don’t forget the ask.

If you have a thick skin and the right list, cold calling just might be your game.

So chill out, then rub those palms together, feel the fire in your belly, and go for it!

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