Just Pick Up the Phone and Ask

man scared of phoneA couple of years ago I was sitting in a committee meeting and we were discussing feedback we wanted from participants. We were coming up with all sorts of options using technology (and avoiding personal contact). But then I asked the question – how many people were we looking at? Was it 5,000? 500? 100? No – it was about 15.

With 5 people on the committee, and 3 phone calls each, we could get some great personal feedback with just a handful of calls. Plus it would help build a closer connection with our constituency.

While technology can support us in our fundraising and volunteer-building efforts, sometimes it can also be a crutch that enables us to put an artificial barrier between us and our donors (or volunteers or board members).

It is so easy to just send off an email – but a conversation with some open-ended questions can glean a lot of information. But, what do you ask? In case you need some thoughts, here are a few to help you get started:

  • How did you learn about our organization?
  • What made you want to get involved?
  • What is your favorite thing about our organization?
  • What is your least favorite thing?
  • What is it that you would most like to see us do in the next twelve months? (Don’t ask this unless you plan on doing something with the information you gather.)

And please, if you’re planning on asking for a major gift, whatever you do, ask in person, not by phone.

I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how welcomed your call will be!

Those are my thoughts – what are yours?


Just Pick Up the Phone and Ask — 5 Comments

  1. Kirsten,
    We’ve all gotten so used to texting, email, Facebook, Twitter messaging, that the old fashioned call someone up and talk to them isn’t a habit anymore.

    But I’m with you. In fact, I’m doing my very first webinar Stop Talking to Yourself: How you can start conversations that build awareness, friendships and funding on April 5 on the power of conversations http://tinyurl.com/4r8y5q5

  2. Yes! As a grant writer encouraging nonprofits to join me in writing, I always emphasize the importance of communication outside the written word. Grant writers especially tend to burrow down in front of their computers while it’s just as important for us to be establishing personal connections. Conversation is key!

  3. Thanks for reminding us of best practices, Kirsten! Sometimes we get so caught up in the way we do things, we forget the best way. Helpful reminders and so true.

  4. Personal is always best, I find. I’m amazed what happens when I phone someone in reply to their email to me. They are often shocked at how much we accomplished in a short 3 or 5 minute call and how much further we moved in what ever it was we were communicating about. Donors and volunteers are the same…they may appreciate, like I do, less email and quicker, more productive, personal conversations.

  5. Pingback: Fundraising News and Blogs - March 28, 2011 | Kirsten's Fundraising Headlines