BY AURELIA FRIEDMAN
As an account executive in the National Call Center, my job is to ensure that our clients receive the best fundraising services possible. I am responsible for the success of their campaigns, for identifying and solving any problems that might arise along the way, and for maintaining optimum performance metrics from start to finish. To help our callers hit their specified goals, we encourage them with positive incentives, whether this is in the form of bonuses, my homemade brownies, or some friendly competition among colleagues.
Until recently, I had “talked the talk” about performance, but I had never actually “walked the walk”, so I decided to lace up my boots and spend some time making fundraising calls alongside our professional calling agents. To be honest, I was reluctant to do it at first. Since starting my job at SD&A, I have listened to and monitored countless phone calls and was intimidated by the amount of rejection that callers must face on a daily basis.
With each contact, I gained a newfound appreciation for what our callers do. I had worked as a phone bank volunteer on various political campaigns in the past, but the types of fundraising calls we make in the National Call Center are not so simple. Passionately conveying the client’s cause and need for support was easy to do with the donors that were similarly engaged, but for donors who were not as receptive, it was a challenge to keep them on the phone long enough to make the case. A typical phone call can last anywhere from a few seconds to 15 minutes. The “no” calls are much shorter than the “yes” calls, but the task before our callers is not only to pitch the donors appropriately, but to also leave them feeling happier with the nonprofit organization than they were before the call, regardless of whether or not a gift is secured. The art of a proper fundraising call has everything to do with maintaining that balance.
Out of twenty-six contacts, I successfully secured three gifts. When I got off the phone, supervisors and callers gave me high-fives and hugs and my colleagues felt more intrigued to try it themselves. I felt a sense of accomplishment, knowing that I contributed to the success of this campaign as both account executive and caller, while also helping to further increase morale and energy in the call center. What our callers do every day requires a lot of strength, resilience, and knowledge, and putting myself in their shoes helped me gain a new perspective on fundraising.