This post was originally published by Kalani Tissot on his blog and has been reposted here with his permission.
Each call time session has one fundamental goal — to raise as much money as possible within the amount of time available. That’s it.
Your candidate’s time is worth money, and it’s your job as a fundraiser to make their time as valuable and productive as possible. One way to do this is to implement strategies and methods that will increase the number of conversations that your candidate will have with donors in a specific time block.
Generally speaking, the more meaningful conversations your candidates can have in an hour, the more you will raise for the campaign.
Here are some strategies that will increase your candidate’s connect rate per hour of call time.
1. Schedule calls ahead of each session
Assuming your candidate’s call time is scheduled in advance (and that their calendar is relatively stable), you can reach out to donors ahead of time and pencil them in.
There are a few ways to do this.
– Email them from your candidate’s campaign account asking if they are free for a call during your next session.
– If you have a specific phone (either a physical phone or a google voice number) that your candidate uses for call time, send them a text message from said number ahead of each session asking if they’d be free to take your (candidate’s) call.
– Have a staff member call through a list of your targeted donors and either leave a pre-recorded voicemail from your candidate asking to find time to connect or speak with the donors and ask them if they can hop on the phone with your candidate during their next call session.
2. Validate all phone numbers that your candidate will be calling
Wrong numbers waste time and reduce the number of correct calls that a candidate can make per hour. The gold standard is to never to have your candidate call the wrong number. Having a staff member or intern call through new phone numbers ahead of time is a best practice and will ensure that your call time is as effective as possible.
3. Use a power dialer like Phoneburner, CallTime Ai, or Numero CallTime
The age of paper call sheets and binders is behind us. If you are still using those, please proceed to throw them in the shredder and get out of the dark ages.
Power dialers are an effective way to use technology to increase the number of calls your candidate can make per hour. Dialing by hand and entering each number at a time is old-fashioned. Instead, all you have to do with a power dialer is click, and the phone starts ringing. Some of these dialers also have a way for your candidate to pre-record a voicemail and automatically drop that voicemail instead of leaving a custom message for each call.
Here are three power dialers that campaigns can use:
(Website here: https://www.phoneburner.com/)
Phonburner allows your candidate to make significantly more calls in any given session and streamlines, leaving voicemails and sending email followups all in one platform. It also allows you to set your own caller ID to any number (We use a Google Voice Number that I can text from).
Phoneburner works well if your candidate wants to talk to donors without having to do anything themselves. For one of my firm’s clients, we dial into Phoneburner’s line, merge our candidate on the call, verbally say the person’s name and any relevant information about them, and then do all the clicks on our candidate’s behalf. This works well if your candidate is driving and wants to fit in call time on a road trip or commute.
(Website here: https://www.calltime.ai/)
In addition to having a built-in dialer, CallTime Ai also provides instant donor research on all of your target’s prior giving history and can send quick templated emails & text messages.
(Website here: https://numero.ai/)
If you use Numero as your CRM for campaign donors, you should definitely use their call time app. Their phone app allows staff members to create custom call lists for their candidates and, if needed, lets candidates record the outcomes of each of their calls directly in the app. Candidates can also send quick templated emails & text followups to each contact.
The Numero CallTime app is perfect if your candidate ever has unplanned downtime to make fundraising calls and is willing to make them unstaffed.
4. Double Dial with multiple staff members
If you have multiple staff members available for a call time session, you can have one of them dial along with your candidate to reach as many donors as possible.
Plan on creating two donor lists and have your candidate call one and the staff member call the other.
If your team is making phone calls together in-person, you can physically pass the phone to your candidate whenever someone picks up. If your candidate already is talking to someone, entertain the donor for the duration of the call and then pass the phone to your candidate. If that donor hangs up, judge the tone of their voice, and then decide on whether it makes sense for your candidate to try and call them back.
This strategy is also possible If you are all making phone calls virtually or on Zoom. You can dial from a different number, and then once a donor is ready, you call your candidate and merge them on to the call.
5. Be strategic about voicemails
Be careful about leaving custom voicemails during call time. These can be inefficient with no return on time spent making them.
A 2013 survey by eVoice found that only 33 percent of people listen to voicemail from business contacts. Only 18 percent listen to voicemails from numbers they don’t know.
If you know that a donor has your candidate’s number saved in their phone and they have an existing relationship, then, by all means, leave a custom voicemail. Otherwise, skip leaving any voicemail at all or drop a pre-recorded voicemail from a power dialer and move on to the next call.
6. Send immediate followups
Upon not reaching a potential donor, send them a text message and email follow-up as fast as possible. Unless it’s the last day of the quarter, try to schedule donors into future call time sessions so your candidate can connect with them then. Generally, I try to avoid asking for donations without a conversation with your candidate occurring first.
Often a donor may not have picked up the phone because they didn’t recognize the number. They may also have been busy when your candidate called but could be free to connect 15 minutes later. Text messages and emails will identify who your candidate is to each donor and will increase your connection rate by either having the donor call you back then or responding with when they’d be available to hop on the phone.
Avoiding these two things will make your call time sessions more effective.
7. Internal Chit-chat
Back and forth conversation between staff and the candidate on non-fundraising-related topics does not produce any money. Try to avoid this as much as possible and keep your candidate on the phone. Often, as fundraisers, it is our job to be a cheerleader and motivational coach for our candidates. In those circumstances, it’s great to congratulate them on each pledge and donation they get. After high-fiving them virtually or in-person, move on to the next call.
8. Background noises and disruptions
When your candidate is making calls, you want them to be focused on the task at hand. Having a TV on in the background or family members nearby could create distractions that would take time away from dialing and talking with potential donors. The best locations for call time are quiet and private.
Do you have any strategies that you use to make call time more effective? I’d love to hear it. Please send me a note at [email protected].
Kalani Tissot is a political fundraiser and consultant based in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ever since he volunteered on his first campaign in college, Kalani has been on a mission to help Democrats win up and down the ballot across the country.
In 2018, Kalani drove four days straight from Washington State to Florida to work on a Congressional campaign and help Democrats take back the House. After that, he served as the Finance Director for the South Carolina Democratic Party, where he raised over $1.2 million and organized a 1,100 person dinner that raised over $250,000 in one night. Then, Kalani moved to Nevada to work as the Finance Director for Congressman Steven Horsford, where they raised nearly $3.5 million for his competitive re-election campaign. Now, Kalani works with a great group of candidates who are all preparing for 2022 and beyond.