How can I raise money over the phone?

How can I raise money over the phone?

You can raise money by phone!

You may have never thought of using phone calls to raise money for your parish or ministry. Perhaps you have a knee jerk reaction, remembering the high pressure salesman who interrupted your birthday dinner to tell you about the trip that you can win if you buy a set of new steak knives.

Certainly, phone campaigns can be poorly done, and you need to think out your reasoning and approach very carefully, but the reality is that phone fundraising is a very viable option. Why? Because it can be a way of making personal contact your parishioners. Remember, a personal ask is always the best ask, even if it’s by a volunteer from your parish.

What does a successful phone campaign look like?

First of all, you’re going to need people who can make the calls.

These will likely be volunteers, although if you’re in a large enough setting like a diocese or a university, you might find a company that will provide contract calling services for you. If you’re doing volunteers, you’ll need a leader whose a cheerleader. The person who will help you organize the phone call sessions and get people excited about making the calls.

Secondly, you’ll need a space that has multiple phone lines.

While your volunteers could conceivably do it from their own homes, bringing people together to do phone solicitations makes it a lot more fun. Experiencing rejection (which they will) is made easier in a group atmosphere where the joy of success can be shared and multiplied.

Thirdly, you’ll need a reason for calling and a script.

Your best funding request starts with a compelling need that the donor can meet by making a donation. Know what you’re going to be doing with this money, and write it into a simple script that your volunteers can use when they’re calling donors.

Fourthly, you’ll need clerical help.

You’ll need a process in place to handle pledges or credit card donations, and make sure that thank you letters with donation confirmation goes out within a day or two of their phone call. The best way to do this is to have your volunteers set-up with computers that can make donations through your website or a donation portal built specifically for this purpose.

You can do paper donation records, and have staff process the donations after the fact, but you’ll lose some of the donations due to transcription errors, handwriting, and expired cards. Doing it with the person on the phone is best. If you’re doing a pledge drive, again the best way is to set them up with recurring donations through your payment portal. You can do old fashioned pledges, where you put them into your donor database and send them monthly reminders to pay their pledge, but you will lose donations this way. On average only 70% of pledges are collected.

Make sure that your ‘thank you’ system is prepared to handle a big influx of donors. You’ll want to send out thank you letters to donors in no more than 2-3 days.

Fifthly, you’ll need pizza.

People do crazy things for free pizza. You’re best time for calling will be between 5-9 PM, so you’ll want to provide free pizza (or other fun food) and sodas to your volunteers.

Looking for more articles on phone fundraising? Try these:

Check out The Fundraiser’s Playbook for a full list of fundraising articles.

Would you like to learn more about raising money for Church and Ministry? Check out Letters From The Almoner, now available on Image courtesy of, via Creative Commons License, no rights reserved.