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How to monitor your telephone fundraising

How to monitor your telephone fundraising

How can you be sure that the fundraising calls made in the name of your charity are in line with your brand and ethos?

When I am working with organisation to help them to set up in-house teams to carry out , the overriding theme that has led the organisations to make the decision to take ownership of this fundraising channel is there concern around what might be “done” or said to their supporters in their name. Here are a few simple ideas that can be used at all levels within an organisation to monitor your , whether you are making or receiving calls.

  • Add yourself and/or colleagues, multiple times anonymously to the call lists (sometimes called ‘seeding’ yourself into the list). If people throughout the organisation join in you can easily create a representative sampling of campaigns.
  • To ensure anonymity, don’t use your own name, or the same name more than once.
  • Don’t be yourself; think about who your donors are and take on their persona (when mystery shopping for animal charities I give myself pets, with names! Getting into character helps me respond more realistically.)
  • When contacted, don’t ask too many technical questions about your organisation and how it carries out its work (it’s the biggest give away that you’re a seed, donors don’t typically conduct the Spanish inquisition, charity representatives do!)
  • Have a check list handy with the things that are important to you and the legal requirements that need to be covered (disclosure, asking permission to talk, DD guarantee etc.) If you don’t note them down during the call, it’s surprisingly difficult to remember afterwards.
  • Focus on how the person is responding to you. Are they listening and responding appropriately; if you tell them you’ve not been well, or your cat passed away recently, do they genuinely show compassion; – a good fundraiser will check that you’re are happy to carry on with the call rather than say how sorry they are and use that information to take them to the next “ask”.
  • Ask a question about a problem with your organisation that is nothing to do with telephone fundraising. See if the caller takes responsibility for it and then if this is subsequently flagged to your organisation to follow up and resolve.
  • Show some hesitation when deciding to give and check that the fundraiser gives you space to make that decision for yourself rather than seeing it as an opportunity to persuade you to give.
  • Say “yes” and “no” on different calls. A good fundraising call should leave you feeling good, regardless of whether you were able to commit to the request being made.
  • Design a simple form that everyone in your organisation conducting this type of mystery shopping commits to completing to make the feedback easy to analyse and collate (don’t forget to ask how the call made them feel). This can then be made available to external and internal auditors alike to make reference to.
  • If telephone fundraising is your responsibility, listen to the calls that others are reporting on to check that your organisations values and standards are being applied in a consistent manner.

I’m certainly not suggesting that you do all of these things in every call you receive, and I know from my experience as a telephone fundraiser, that clients often feel bad if they are trying to catch the caller out. Don’t think of it like this. These are the sorts of things that are happening in your telephone campaigns every day and you are just checking that your supporters are being treated with respect and appropriate compassion.


Jane Cunningham has been working in the forefront of fundraising for nearly 25 years. Known for the high quality of her fundraising practice and practical experience in segmentation and analysis, she has pioneered many new fundraising initiatives in the UK, Europe and the US. In everything she develops, she believes that the starting point should be to take the donors perspective, which will ultimately lead to developing the most effective strategic and creative responses; resulting in donor satisfaction and financial success.

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