Why Mail and the Telephone Still Rule

The electronic world offers tremendous opportunity, but let’s not forget about the basics . . .

There is no doubt – email, web sites, social media and all the other tools of the electronic world have great potential.
And any nonprofit organization that ignores them would be making a huge mistake. Money raised through these means continues to grow every year and will likely grow significantly over the next decade.

But the lions share of donations to nonprofits has been and will continue to be raised by the tried and proven workhorses of fundraising –the telephone and direct mail. They are more reliable, more predictable and provide a better return on investment than other methods. This may eventually change and the phone and mail may give way to more effective approaches but for now and the foreseeable future, if you’re not using both mail and phone, you are missing out.

The most powerful way to convince someone to donate is to meet with them face-to-face. And some organizations do run door-to-door campaigns. But when you compare the number of people you can reach door-to-door in a week to the number you can reach by telephone, the phone is a hands down winner.  If you want to speak with thousands of people in a short period of time, the telephone is the only way to do it. It is the most effective way to raise a large amount of donations in the shortest possible time.

The telephone can also greatly improve the results of a direct mail campaign. A properly timed call with the right message can convert a surprising number of non-responders into donors.  But getting people to donate is just one of the ways the telephone can be used. There are other important benefits you can gain with the telephone other than the traditional “ask”.

For Example:

  • Use it to welcome new donors and thank them for their support.
  • Use it to discover why lapsed donors stopped giving
  • Use it as part of a donor development campaign – to encourage monthly giving, major donor support programs, planned giving programs and other donor upgrade programs
  • Use it to gather key information that you may not have, for example email addresses and cell phone numbers
  • Use it to get referrals from existing donors

And perhaps one of the most important benefits of the telephone is that it gives you valuable feedback on your organization. Whether you’re calling prospects, donors or former donors, each telephone call is an opportunity to discover how people view your organization and the work you do. Plus you get to understand your audience better so you shape your communication strategy accordingly.


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