Now is the time to be thinking about how you are going to train your new callers. But, the truth is you aren’t just training phonathon callers.
You are training young fundraisers.
If you do it right, every caller in your center will have a knowledge of fundraising that rivals most experienced development officers. The techniques that your young fundraisers learn can be applied in nearly any area of business that they choose to pursue. If your system reinforces these lessons, they will be incredible young fundraisers. They will raise serious money for your institution and have an impact on many students, faculty, and staff. From the time he or she is hired, you are a part of that student fundraiser’s education. He or she will also be an integral part of the life of your educational community.
A Holisitic Approach to Training
If staffing is about quantity, training is about quality. Of course, you want staffing to be about quality too but speed takes precedence. In training, you should still be as efficient as possible but that isn’t as important as being effective. You want to take all of these students you hired and make them into incredible young fundraisers.
When someone says phonathon training, generally “new hire training” is the first association we make, as if that’s the only kind of training there is in a call center. Training is necessary throughout the entire time that a caller works with your phonathon. If we take a more holistic approach like this, quality and quantity begin to work together. Believe it or not, you can get more done in less time and it works to the benefit of both the callers and the program.
Here’s my proposal: what if we presume that for the first couple of weeks new callers will be calling only future donors (my optimistic phrase for a non-donor)? Suddenly, there a ton of things we just wouldn’t need to cover in new hire training. Upgrades, special giving societies, leadership levels, extra objection responses and fresh ways to build rapport could wait a couple of weeks or a month.
Now this change of perspective on new hire training as outlined above does three amazing things:
Training doesn’t only happen on the front end. Training actually starts in the interview process, as that shapes how the employee views the expectations and responsibilities. And training continues every single night in team meetings, coaching, and formal continuing education sessions. Training continues as new hires become donor callers, donor callers become new hire mentors, and lead callers become student supervisors.
Once you switch your perspective, you don’t feel the pressure to squeeze everything in during new hire training. You can then consciously design a holistic growth and education program that will teach each student fundraiser what they need to know when they are ready to learn it.
Oh, by the way, this kind of "life-cycle" training that I recommend will have the end result that you “grow your own” call center leaders. If you put these strategies into play, you will have many productive callers, but also many mentors and leaders in your call center. When you get promoted, and you will, you will have graduating seniors ready for a chance to make their mark on your institution. Talk about succession planning!
Jessica Cloud, CFRE
I've been called the Tasmanian Devil of fundraising and I'm here to talk shop with you.