I’m not calling to ask for money. But would you …

in Acquisition & Prospecting,Integrated Multichannel Fundraising & Marketing

First let me say that I know telemarketing works for fundraising

For example: It’s a great way to renew donors or members, especially lapsed ones.  I’m glad to see that many organizations use it.

It’s just that when I receive these calls at home there are a few frequently used phrases that annoy the bee-geebers out of me!  I hang up the phone and wonder, “Who the heck writes these telemarketing scripts?”

In fact, I view one of them as misleading and downright dishonest.

Now if your nonprofit has tested these and the market proves that they work, please add a comment in the block at the end of this post.  I definitely want to hear from you.

Meanwhile here are the opening scripts I personally dislike:

1) “Hi Karen, how are you today?”
At this point I have no idea who is calling.  I’m already annoyed.  I don’t want to chit-chat with a stranger; just get to the point and begin by telling me who you are

By the way, my parents are in their mid-eighties and get even more annoyed than I do by this approach.

2) “I’m not calling to ask for money today.”
This is the one that really gets me.

The charity most certainly is going to ask for money!  Getting me to agree to receive an envelope that I send back later with money is the same as asking me for a donation on the spot.  I see no difference! 

Perhaps “technically” they’re not asking for money because they’re asking for the committement.  But the way donor Karen sees it the person has just lied to me … technically, that is. 

Oh, and my parents respond with something like, “Oh yes you are. And if you can’t be up front about it then I’m not going to give you anything.”

Again, I’m definitely in favor of telemarketing.  It’s just a few phrases from the scripts that I don’t care for and these phrases annoy me as a donor.  Annoyed donors are less likely to give!

Anyone else annoyed by these opening telemarketing phrases?  Or has your charity tested them extensively and found they work more times than they don’t?  Please share your comments below.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeanne M Brown March 18, 2011 at 10:43 am

Hi Karen and readers.
After being on the receiving end of telemarketers’ calls for so many years, I got rid of my landline. I feel this post is right on. So is it better to say, “This is Jeanne, I am a donor to the XYZ foundation and I’m calling to ………..
look forward to responses. thanks

Karen Zapp, copywriter March 19, 2011 at 2:47 pm


Appreciate your kind words. And yes, I think it’s better for the caller to be upfront.

It’s an interesting twist you added about the caller stating they themselves are a donor to the organization they’re calling on behalf of. That won’t always be true, but a variation on that theme is possible.

For example: The telemarketing caller can state HOW they personally support the cause (e.g., volunteer, donate, etc.), and continue by saying in one sentence WHY they support the cause. And then invite you (recipient of the call) to join in solving problem X (focus on one problem that resonates with the majority of current donors). And on it goes.

It’s worth testing!

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