Use Telemarketing Wisely
The vast majority of sustaining members first come to stations through on-air campaigns, which is why with a few exceptions (further discussed in the direct mail section), encouraging these donors to take further action via direct mail has not yet proven to be a particularly effective technique overall. However, telemarketing or telefundraising is a proven way to keep these donors engaged, beyond drives.
Don't discount telefundraising just because you or someone else within your station doesn't prefer it as a technique. As long as we create ethical campaigns that fit squarely within best practices, and honor donor requests as to how they wish to be contacted, it is our responsibility to make the fullest use of techniques that have been proven to generate revenue, including telemarketing, which can be a very special and effective tool.
While telefundraising is expensive, it can be an extremely fruitful technique for both finding new sustaining members and increasing the monthly gift amount of existing ones, building transformative long-term growth. It is important to look at the net revenue from a calling campaign not only the costs.
Telemarketing is extremely useful for:
- Current sustainer upgrades
- Lapsed sustainer reactivation
- Current donor conversions to sustaining membership
- Transition of installment donors to sustaining membership
Calling can be conducted either on a monthly basis, or quarterly, semi-annually, or annually, depending on how large and robust your program is. If the station opts for semi-annually or annually, be sure to account for the fact that the earlier in the fiscal year the calling is accomplished, the more revenue will come in to cover the higher up-front initial investment.
And don't forget — just as in any type of fundraising — experience counts. Just as the best on-air pitchers have studied, practiced, and honed their craft over time, good telefundraising is a skill that's gained across years of practice and experience. Do not be tempted to try to use volunteers or regular staff for this critical revenue-generating task in order to save money. It will fail. Additionally, be extremely cautious about selecting a firm with little experience in public media or sustainer calling. Telemarketing is expensive, and you want to give yourself the best leg up to raise maximum dollars.