1. Without callers, you don’t have a phonathon. This seems obvious but it’s true that the only 3 things you really need to have a phonathon are:
2. Without the right callers, you don’t have a successful phonathon.
You could put anyone in the chair and that’s better than no fundraising at all, but to succeed in this medium, you need talented, well trained callers. By spending enough time understanding your staffing needs and then recruiting aggressively and early, you’ll have enough applications to be selective and you’ll have plenty of time for a thorough training program.
3. It’s annual giving so you only have 1 year for this campaign.
What are you waiting for? At the end of the fiscal year, your tally for dollars and donors goes back to zero. Unlike other types of fundraising campaigns (building campaigns for example), annual giving hits the reset button like clockwork, annually. Staff up fully and quickly to get a jump on your goals. Keep in mind that outside of credit card gifts, your prospects need 30-120 days to fulfill their gifts. Because of the fulfillment cycle of phonathon, at a certain point in the year, it is nearly impossible to “catch-up”.
I know I have implied recruitment is the most important thing you can do as a phonathon manager. Perhaps I could more accurately characterize it as the most urgent. The most important thing you can spend time on is retention.
Retention is the only activity that might be more important than staffing in managing a phone program because combating turnover puts your job and your phonathon into a positive upward cycle of improvement.
Retaining those veteran callers saves you recruiting time and training hours. This works well for your budget but even more importantly, it frees your time to do the important work of statistical analysis that will take your results to the next level. It enriches your staff by building a community of callers and over time they build critical experience which means they make calls of a higher quality.
Jessica Cloud, CFRE
I've been called the Tasmanian Devil of fundraising and I'm here to talk shop with you.