Tag: call center

Rescuing Orphaned Baby Elephants

SD&A is proud of the work that our client, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), is doing to rescue and rehabilitate orphaned baby elephants whose mothers have been killed by poachers and trophy hunters.

It takes a lot of resources to care for and provide a safe home for orphaned animals, especially elephant calves. There’s so much to worry about: specialized milk formula, bottles, rescue vehicles, rescue flights, veterinary care, and enough staff to give the orphans the love and care they need and deserve. It is so sad to see these innocent little elephants. When they’re found, they’re usually starving and malnourished. Many of them are suffering from injuries, and they’re always traumatized from being separated from their families.

Donors to IFAW will make a lifesaving difference for all the elephants being cared for at ZEN, the Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery. Here’s how donations will be used:

  • Donors can help provide the specialized milk formula the calves drink exclusively until they’re at least two years of age. And they’ll continue to drink milk formula with their food until the age of five.
  • Baby elephants — less than one month old — can never be alone. Donors can help provide the four caregivers that work around the clock to care for the youngest calves.
  • Donors can help give baby elephants a safe home. Support for our partnership with ZEN can help make sure the baby elephants have a heated barn to stave off the cold at night, and have a mattress made of hay to prevent chafing. Orphaned elephants are known to suffer from nightmares, so their caregivers sleep next to them whenever needed to keep them calm through the night.
  • Donors can help provide fresh, clean water at all times as well. And they can help make sure that the baby elephants have access to a watering hole in which to swim and mud pits to roll and play in.

Here are the seven orphaned calves being cared for at ZEN:

ANNABELLE was missing her tail and a large section of her trunk, likely from a lion attack, when she was rescued and brought to ZEN. And now that she’s healing, her intelligence and curious nature are shining through.

Sweet SIZI was discovered alone and in terrible condition near the Sizi Spring in southern Zimbabwe. Completely dependent on mother’s milk, she had no hope of surviving without her mother. Sizi was rescued and flown to ZEN where she’s being bottle-fed a special milk formula and given around-the-clock care.

Mischievous MOYO has a big personality. She’s the third-youngest elephant calf at ZEN, and one of the smallest, too. When she was rescued and brought to ZEN she weighed about half of what an elephant calf should weigh at birth.

When MATABELE was rescued and brought to ZEN, his trunk was severely wounded, most likely by a cruel wire snare. As a result, his injured trunk will always be sensitive to the touch.

And then there’s courageous KURA. His back left leg was shattered in two places. And by the time he arrived at ZEN for rehabilitation, the bones had fused around the entire joint making it impossible for the little calf to bend his leg at the knee. He hobbles around the best he can and we have hope that he’ll live a long and full life despite his handicap.

TULKU is the second-youngest of all the orphans. The government turned the young male over to ZEN after he was found to be injured. He’s now receiving around-the-clock care and Annabelle has become his caring surrogate mother.

MOLLY is the newest addition to the ZEN herd and the youngest of all the orphans. Molly’s mother was shot and killed by a hunter. When she arrived into our urgent care center at the Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery, she was very sick and extremely traumatized. We are working day and night to ensure her mental and physical health, and our goal is to eventually release her back into the wild where she can thrive. Molly is getting to know ZEN’s other rescued elephants, and she’s already making great progress!

Image result for zen elephant nursery

https://www.zimbabweelephantnursery.com/

USING TELEFUNDRAISING TO CONVERT ONLINE PETITION SIGNERS TO MONTHLY DONORS

by Mark Mitchell
Vice President of Business Development

Nonprofit organizations are always looking for new and innovative ways to attract and acquire new donors. The traditional way of doing it – direct mail – brings in a very small return, and until recently, acquiring new donors by phone was cost-prohibitive for most organizations; it just wasn’t profitable enough to justify the expense.

But now, because of Care2, change.org and other online petition sources, a growing number of organizations are enjoying successful and flourishing telephone acquisition campaigns that convert “Web Activist Non-Donors” to monthly sustainers.

There is definitely an art to this process, and the first and most important thing to keep in mind is that this type of program will only work in the context of a sustainer campaign. Targeting Web Activists with a one-time gift campaign, with an average gift of $25, will not cover the cost. Strategically designed sustainer campaigns on the other hand, with an average monthly gift of $10 or higher, have proven wildly successful in acquiring Web Activists, who view it as a manageable amount to pay each month for a cause they truly believe in, yet over the course of a year, they are making a total commitment of $120 to the organization, which, over time, covers the cost of the campaign and then some.

SD&A’s National Call Center specializes in Web Activist acquisition campaigns and routinely delivers an average sustainer rate of 2.5%-3%, often times higher, sometimes up to 10%. On average, another 6%-9% of Web Activist Non-Donors will make a one-time gift when called. In most cases, this type of calling program will pay for itself in less than two years.

Even still, some organizations are reluctant to use telefundraising, especially acquisition telefundraising, because they fear it will take money away from their other marketing channels. I like to think of acquisition calling as the last line of defense. You’ve already mailed them, you’ve already emailed them, and they still haven’t donated. So what do you do? You call them. If you don’t call them, it’s lost revenue.

For the past five years, SD&A has been managing a sustainer acquisition program for a national, nonprofit environmental organization. In that time, we’ve called more than 2 million petition signers from Care2 on behalf of this organization. These were non-donors who signed a variety of petitions supporting the organization’s causes. Of all the Web Activists we reached, we were able to convert 2.5% of them into monthly givers with an average sustainer gift of $11 a month. For this organization, telephone acquisition calling has not only turned out to be cost-effective, but extremely profitable as well.

As I mentioned earlier, there’s an art to this process. After a Web Activist Non-Donor signs an online petition, that person will receive a series of three emails to on-board them into the organization’s acquisition program. The first email is an engagement survey with a membership ask on the back end. The second email is an action alert with a donation ask on the back end. The third email is a straight up appeal for a donation. As part of this process, Web Activists are entered into a campaign arc designed to move them up a ladder of engagement (from signing a petition to participating in a phone tree to attending a protest event, for example), and when the time is right, they will get a phone call inviting them to become a monthly donor.

When calling Web Activist Non-Donors, it’s important to remember that some organizations have the benefit of strong name recognition, while others do not. In many cases, Web Activists have signed a petition because of a specific cause (like helping Syrian children or fighting to stop oil drilling in the Arctic) and not because of the organization itself. In this scenario, the script should open with the subject matter, referencing the specific cause first – the reason they signed the petition – before getting into where we’re calling from.

Another strategy is to only call “super activists”, those who have signed at least three (preferably five) petitions in a 12-month period. Or sometimes, organizations will choose to call “recent advocates”, those who have signed a petition within the past month.

We’ve also found that this type of calling works best when the messaging remains fluid. We were surprised to learn, for example, that many Web Activists who first became involved with the organization when they signed a Clean Energy petition eventually joined as monthly donors because of an animal/wildlife message that had nothing to do with the Clean Energy petition.

Even when donors say no to a monthly gift over the phone, we’ve discovered that Web Activist calling is still beneficial because it helps to drive higher overall giving rates online and through the mail. Experience tells us that donors are ten times more likely to give to the organization through another channel, even if they say no over the phone.

To learn more on how your organization can benefit from a telephone acquisition campaign, please contact Mark Mitchell at mmitchell@sdatel.com or (323) 810-0134.

Public Radio Stations Improve Digital Fundraising but Still Face Challenges

As we head into the 2017 Public Media Development and Marketing Conference, I was asked to provide an overview of the state of digital fundraising based on the work I have been doing for Greater Public and the many observations and conversations I have had with front-line staff over the past two years.

As I prepared this, I kept in mind this accompanying overview piece about the financial and service strength of public radio. As it explains, revenues continue to expand, driven in large part by public radio’s growing role in news.

But as that analysis also suggests, the picture is much less certain when we instead look at public radio’s digital strategy, which will shape our fundraising results in the decade ahead.

In some of the more developed areas of digital fundraising, like email and online pledging, we can see advances in performance that reflect 10 to 20 years’ worth of collective experience. The newer channels, like mobile and social media, are far less developed, with only a few stations making headway through a combination of adequate staffing, sufficient investment, and internal station readiness to adapt to new tools.

Focusing on the full range of digital development practices, here is my view of the state of digital fundraising for public radio as we head to San Francisco:

1. Overall, we are improving.

The online fundraising forms and functions, including fundraising emails, used by public radio stations have improved over the past few years. These improvements include:

  • Online donation pages on station sites are better integrated into general online activity and are no longer placed off the beaten path.
  • “Donate” links are easier to find and are often visible on stations’ apps and content pages on their websites.
  • Secure giving forms are easier to use.
  • Forms are more likely to encourage sustainer giving.
  • Visitors often have more options to subscribe to newsletters, download apps and make a gift when they visit stations’ websites.

That said …

2. We have to develop a “culture of testing.”

This is where public broadcasting now falls short. Too many stations rely on “what we’ve always done” or “what we think works” without actually testing these ideas and practices.

Even some of the best-funded large-market stations do not test digital fundraising practices at an advanced level.

This systemic weakness showed up in last year’s mobile testing project organized by the Station Resource Group. In that project, eight stations worked together to sharpen their mobile fundraising practices. A few weeks into the project, the consultants were already noting in their feedback that stations “did not have a culture of testing,” and only a few stations had in-house staff experienced in the use of digital testing platforms.

What does that mean?

Advanced digital fundraising programs test everything. They test the effect of using the word “Donate” versus “Join.” They test the color of donate buttons and the use of layouts and fields in their forms. Everything is subjected to A/B testing, a standard practice in digital marketing that tests different versions of the same web page, email or app to determine what provides the best results.

That ethic of “test everything” doesn’t appear in most public broadcasting development (or digital service) shops. Even when a station has some interest in testing, workloads leave very little time for identifying and activating testing software. In mobile, the number of digital fundraising transactions is still too low to generate statistically reliable results.

3. Don’t reinvent the wheel.

Stations reporting the best digital fundraising performance are always looking for practices that have already been tried and tested in the larger nonprofit sector beyond broadcasting.

This willingness to borrow, or adapt, already proven practices has enabled us to advance many other aspects of public media fundraising practice. For example, successful fundraising techniques for direct mail, telemarketing and canvassing were first developed elsewhere and then “imported” by public radio stations. Encouraging sustainer giving was already a firmly established practice among nonprofits in Canada and Europe before we picked it up and applied it to public media in the United States.

We need to do the same thing with all aspects of digital fundraising.

4. We need to refine and share useful metrics and best practices.

For legacy membership to work, almost any station can subscribe to Target Analytics or the Contributor Development Partnership’s National Reference File to share and compare stations’ renewal rates, average revenue per donor, percent of sustainers, and other useful numbers.

At the moment, nothing comparable exists for public radio digital fundraising, though nationwide studies identify digital fundraising metrics for the nonprofit world in general, notably the Nonprofit Technology Network’s 2016 study done pro bono by digital agency M&R.

Across the NPR/PBS universe:

  • There are no established benchmarks for conversion rates of website visitors to members.
  • Few stations track their pledge page abandonment rate. Fewer still know if their rate is good, average or poor compared to the nonprofits that contributed to the NTEN study cited above.
  • There is no shared agreement on email fundraising best practices, such as optimal frequency and spacing for email renewal campaigns.
  • We don’t know the cost-benefit to be gained from public radio’s most basic form of segmentation, i.e., member versus nonmember status.

Why should we be sharing information about email? Because:

  • Email is the digital channel most preferred by older Americans, who are the traditional core of public media membership.
  • Many nonprofit fundraisers place an asset value of $10 to $14 for each valid email address they bring onto their file.
  • Last year, email fundraising grew 26 percent nationally, outpacing overall online giving.

5. Mobile is the next big challenge.

The next generation of e-commerce — and “e-giving” — will happen via mobile platforms.

As a system, we are making some progress in terms of mobile-based content delivery via station apps, NPR One, podcasts and Passport (on the PBS side), reflecting a digital world where on-demand content is customized to user interests.

But integrating membership fundraising into that process is a whole different story.

State-of-the-art mobile giving requires a combination of great design, easy payment processing and seamless integration with dozens of different phone carriers.

Large-scale mobile fundraising campaigns usually require an intermediary, usually a company that specializes in mobile campaigns and works out necessary systems and protocols with phone carriers, gift processors and end users. Convenient “one-click” mobile giving requires advanced systems that link phone numbers to the donor’s bank accounts or credit cards.

This is a level of technical sophistication that few stations are prepared to handle.

Some kind of collective service purchase might seem like a practical solution here. But anyone who has been through the process of making a systemwide decision about fundraising technology realizes how difficult that negotiation would be.

This raises a basic question for stations: If we’re not ready to commit to a shared mobile communication and fundraising system — and don’t even know what that would look like — then how can we prepare for the transaction opportunities that will no doubt arise from the world’s most popular technology?

Given the importance of mobile for content delivery, our ability to capture sustaining revenue for digital service will force us to connect the content and fundraising sides of our stations’ mobile communications efforts.

6. As we tackling mobile, we must also address “social.”

Social media continues to perplex and yet excite stations due to its massive reach and (allegedly) low cost. But when used as just another channel for broad fundraising appeals, nonprofits have largely been disappointed with the results, except when the appeals are connected to hot-button political issues.

Looking outside public media, we can see other nonprofits using Facebook as a donor-acquisition channel because it produces a higher ROI than direct mail or telemarketing. My sense is some stations will begin testing paid social media campaigns and, in fact, I have spoken with a number of stations already who intend to increase their spending on Facebook ads in the coming year.

Many nonprofits have begun testing the use of Facebook to increase participation at events, with messaging that treats followers as members of a fan club or “tribe.” For example, a recent peer-to-peer test of the “PBS Nerd” theme at 14 stations drew a high turnout at events advertised on Facebook. Just as importantly, all stations involved found that 70 to 90 percent of the event attendees were new “prospects” who were not previously part of their contact database.

In general, this suggests that ticketed events or appeals based on a focused, timely offer or activity do best in terms of fundraising via Facebook. In other words, a Facebook post about the importance of supporting classical music or journalism may not generate the same level of traction compared to an invitation to a performance or a round-table discussion of an important issue.

All of which is good news for public media fundraising and support. First, Facebook does more than get people to events in large numbers. It gets new people to events. Secondly, the PBS Nerd “tribe” of children and their parents who responded to a post specifically serving the fans’ interests is a promising sign for public media and its aging audience.

Of course, this is only one example of the untapped potential for fundraising and audience involvement represented by social media platforms. Much more testing and research needs to be done if public radio stations are to develop social media strategies that produce real results.

My hope is that during the PMDMC conference and beyond, stations will begin to approach digital fundraising with a single question in mind: By responding to user needs and interest at every point of a digital interaction, how can we convert our audience into fans, constituents and sustaining members, ensuring the future financial security of public media?

Having recently authored a PBS white paper, Dick McPherson has led efforts to help PBS and NPR stations build their membership programs and has coached online news organizations in the use of crowdfunding and content sharing for fundraising. Dick recently directed the creation of a digital fundraising self-assessment tool for Greater Public’s website. He currently advises Arizona PBS (Phoenix) on digital and mobile strategies and serves as the principal digital fundraising adviser to the Public Media Futures Forums.

 

National park visitors spent $995 million at nearby businesses in state

 

By JOSEPH GUZMAN Cronkite News May 5, 2017 (Published by the Arizona Daily Sun)

WASHINGTON – The 12 million people who visited national parks in Arizona last year spent more than $995 million with nearby businesses, a $63 million increase from the year before, the National Park Service said.

The service’s annual Visitor Spending Effects Report said that spending supported more than 15,000 jobs and generated $1.5 billion in economic activity for the state.

That was part of a national record 331 million visitors to the 471 National Park Service sites across the country in 2016. They spent $18.4 billion on lodging, food, gas, admissions, local transportation and other fees, generating an estimated $34.9 billion in economic activity.

“National Parks are America’s treasure, which provide magnificent outdoor recreation opportunities and serve as economic engines for local communities,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement with the April report. “With continued record visitation it’s time to start thinking about accessibility and infrastructure.”

But experts in Arizona said it’s past time to think about improving infrastructure, saying long-overdue maintenance could “ultimately put Arizona’s cash cow at risk.” And one said that early indications on Trump administration plans to spend on Interior and the National Park Service “aren’t good.”

“The tourism and dollars related to tourism in Arizona are really the backbone of our state’s economy,” said Roger Clark, program director for the Grand Canyon Trust. “Yet, neither state nor federal agencies really invest what is needed to make sure that the Grand Canyon remains the desirable destination it is today.”

A Senate bill introduced in March would dedicate more than $10 billion over the next 30 years to park maintenance, but it has yet to get a hearing. Clark said the investment in infrastructure pales in comparison to the value parks bring to the state’s economy.

“We’re enjoying the economic benefits of the park without making investments necessary to ensure its quality and availability for future generations,” he said.

He said the aging water system in the Grand Canyon is in dire need of redesign and replacement, an issue he called one of the most-pressing among all the parks in the nation.

“The park service is looking at options so that the constant breaking of the canyon pipeline due to intense pressure and the really old piping system needs to be replaced,” said Clark, adding that the system is “holding on without the budget to really fix it.”

At times during busy seasons, he said, the park has almost had to shut down due to the failing water system, noting that “if that happens, the people that rely on the tourism economy are going to lose lots of money.”

Kevin Dahl, Arizona’s senior program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association, echoed Clark’s concerns.

“The pipeline that supplies all that water is 50 years old, it’s long past the time when it should have been replaced,” Dahl said.

That is just one of many serious infrastructure needs that should be addressed at the canyon, Dahl said.

Despite those problems, however, Dahl said he is optimistic about the future of the parks. He pointed to a bipartisan bill in the Senate that would dedicate funding for parks maintenance for the next 30 years.

“President Trump has talked about the need for infrastructure and renewal in our country,” Dahl said. “That’s just as true in the national parks as it is elsewhere. We hope the very special places get the attention they deserve.”

SD&A Q&A WITH CAROLINE MENDEZ – VICE PRESIDENT OF CLIENT SERVICES, NATIONAL CALL CENTER

Our Director of Communications recently sat down with Caroline to discuss the role of technology in the National Call Center, the secret to successful long-term partnerships with clients, the best leadership advice she’s ever received, her foodie superpower, and Homer. 

SD&A: What do you enjoy most about your job as Vice President of Client Services?

Caroline: Well, at the risk of sounding trite, I’d have to say the people I have the pleasure of working with, both at SD&A and within our industry. I mean, I wouldn’t have spent over 10 years building a career in client service if I didn’t feed off the energy of partnering and collaborating with other passionate people.

This year I’ll be celebrating my 8th year at SD&A. For the majority of my tenure here, I’ve worked with the same core group of people. We’ve faced our fair share of challenges together and grown as a team, and by extension, we’ve been able to grow the strength of our business, our brand and our product. I’m incredibly proud of that.

Outside of the company, I work in a relatively small industry where everyone kind of knows everyone. They are some of the most kind, genuine and fun people I’ve ever met. Some I consider to be very close friends. The relationships I’ve built, and the way they feed into my ability to continuously find ways to better partner with my clients, to innovate, to evolve, is very gratifying and fulfilling for me. Every night I get to leave the office knowing that my peers and I have made an impact in our mission to serve the world around us and make it a better place. I feel very lucky to have such a rewarding role that I get to call my “job.”

SD&A has enduring partnerships with many prominent organizations, including Planned Parenthood, the Sierra Club and the Special Olympics. In your opinion, what is it about our approach as a company that helps us foster long-term relationships with clients?


Our business is built on a client-centric model. Whenever I’m on the road meeting with clients, I always get positive feedback about our service. And that isn’t me tooting my own horn either. I have an unbelievable team that I rave about constantly. They’re very good at making the company, and me, look good.

I frequently hear that SD&A is more accommodating and flexible than many of our competitors. I believe that’s because we focus on being a partner with our clients, not a vendor. There’s a very clear distinction. We don’t see ourselves as just their telefundraiser. We start every client relationship with the intention of fostering long term partnerships. We measure their goals, their intentions, their plans and we utilize our deep pool of experience to create a path that extends beyond just a campaign.

We take the responsibility of serving our clients very seriously. Every person on our team, from the callers to the operations staff and beyond, is not just here to service a client. They usually end up at our doorstep looking to join our team because they’ve been to our website and seen all of the meaningful causes we serve. They come with a passion to make a difference and end up finding a fast-paced, demanding environment that is also very rewarding. We work hard because we want see our clients grow and we do it because we intend to be there for every step of that journey. And guess what – we actually manage to have a lot of fun doing it!

How significant a role does technology play in the success of National Call Center campaigns?

Technology plays a major role in our campaigns on so many levels. I give a lot of credit to our IT department because they capitalize on every resource we have, even if it means a lot of extra work on their part, to accommodate a client or help the call center. When it comes to data, we always ask clients to give us more rather than less. The more the better. We can then utilize that with our own database and knowledge to better strategize for their campaigns. Data modeling and segmentation analysis is a big part of what we do.

In terms of new technological features, we recently upgraded the equipment in our fulfillment mail center, which will enable us to print on demand. This will give us a greater ability to test our fulfillment mail, which was very limited when we were working with an outsourced mail house. Another benefit is that we can now send fulfillment notices by email.

We’ve also expanded our abilities in how we take payments. We can now live-charge payments to cut down on decline rates and improve overall fulfillment. Let’s be honest, in fundraising every dollar counts. All of these changes make a tremendous difference when added together. Some of these things are very rudimentary and some are more advanced, but they all make a difference. Later this year, we’ll be making even more technological upgrades.

What is the best and the worst business or leadership advice you’ve ever received?

The best leadership advice I ever received, and I think it’s actually the best life advice I’ve ever received, is to always be open to feedback. Good, bad, ugly. To know your weaknesses and to grow from them is a tremendous part of evolving as a person. When one is most challenged in life, personally or professionally, being able to hear that feedback without taking it personally and then tracing a path forward usually ends in success. Whether it’s with people on your team, the people above you, or clients, I always try to check in on how I’m doing and learn what I can do better.

And now to take off my Tony Robbins hat, I’m not sure I’ve ever received outright bad business advice. I do recall seeing leadership examples earlier in my career that stand out as counterproductive, like creating cultures that are punitive or focused on blame rather than focusing on solutions. I always try to keep that in mind with my team, ensuring that we’re all moving in the same direction toward the same goal. I think it’s critical to have the buy-in of the folks that also work hard around you. If someone is personally invested in your mission, it exponentially improves your chances of achieving it.

What do you do for enjoyment when you’re not working?

For one, I have a superpower. It’s picking the perfect restaurant. Anyone who has traveled with me can attest to this. I believe the first person to confirm this would be my boss, our company president Steve Koehler. I love trying new restaurants and new foods, whether it’s a divey taco joint or a five star meal. In addition to being a faithful foodie, I’m a huge sports nut. My favorite seasons are March Madness and football season. Then of course there’s Homer. Anyone who knows me knows that the center of my universe is my little 15-pound Pomeranian Chihuahua. I travel quite often and might work late from time to time. Sometimes there’s nothing better than just spending the day hanging out with my dog. He’s a spa goer, has a wardrobe, and eats better than I do. Needless to say, he may very well be the most spoiled dog on the planet.

A Ringing Endorsement from a Longtime Client

WHYY is Greater Philadelphia’s leading public media provider. In the current issue of its membership newsletter, Connections, WHYY promotes the value and importance of SD&A’s telemarketing services. Three of our top-notch telephone agents from the National Call Center are featured in the accompanying photo (left to right: Gina Holmes, Wayne Harpe and ClarWHYY 4ence Tolliver).

Why is WHYY calling me?

Telemarketing at WHYY is one of the many ways we engage and involve our members. Our goal is to actively converse with our members in a non-invasive way. This safe, secure fundraising tool is used primarily to renew memberships, make additional gifts, fix lapsed memberships, update credit information, welcome new sustainers and offer sustainer upgrades. These campaigns help to provide support for the programming that you enjoy. We invite you to pick up the phone and join the conversation!

HOW SD&A HELPED HILLARY MAKE HISTORY

BY AURELIA FRIEDMAN

With Hillary Clinton becoming the first presumptive female presidential nominee for a major party this week, I’ve been feeling especially proud of the active role that SD&A has played in the success of her campaign. In addition to the outstanding fundraising calls we make on her behalf from our National Call Center, we recently had an opportunity to roll up our sleeves and support Hillary’s campaign in a different and altogether exciting way.

hillary clinton nevada caucus

Caroline Mendez and Aurelia Friedman (second row on the left behind Hillary Clinton) at Nevada Caucus victory rally in February 2016

On Saturday, February 20, I got up long before the crack of dawn and joined three other members of SD&A’s National Call Center team for a five-hour road trip from L.A. to Vegas. We were headed there for a rare and untraditional type of party: to help our client win the Nevada caucus.

Once we got to Hillary’s Nevada campaign headquarters, we were immediately immersed in the urgency and excitement of the race. Everyone was running in all different directions, making sure everything was covered. We were told to meet one of the precinct captains at a local middle school and help guide supporters to the caucus site. Once we arrived there, we found out our precinct captain was Wendy Greuel, a former Los Angeles City Controller and Councilmember. We instantly felt at home and got into the groove of what we do best—making the strongest pitches possible on our client’s behalf. We talked to all types of people and got to experience firsthand the broad diversity of Hillary’s base.

Aurelia and Cindy

Cindy Davis and Aurelia at caucus site

Later in the day, we went straight from our caucus volunteer site to Secretary Clinton’s official victory rally and were brought up on the stage right behind her. We started getting phone calls from our call center colleagues saying that they saw all of us on CNN! Dionne Johnson, one of our campaign supervisors, got a great picture with Hillary that she sent to her mother in Arkansas. Cindy Davis, another one of our campaign supervisors, got a photo with Hillary as well and found out the next day that a picture of all of us on stage behind Hillary had been published in the Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times. Caroline Mendez, SD&A’s vice president of client services, referred to the experience as one of the happiest moments of her life. The energy in the room was exhilarating and I felt like I was part of something that mattered.

Aurelia and Caroline

Aurelia and Caroline at victory rally

At SD&A, we take every action with our clients foremost in mind and it brings us great satisfaction when we see our fundraising efforts come to life. The funds that our callers raised over the phone for Hillary’s campaign were used to pay for the lawn signs that we put in front of the caucus sites (a few of which now proudly hang from the ceiling of our call center), the t-shirts we wore at the caucus and the victory rally, and the stickers we distributed to Hillary’s supporters.

We are proud to have had the opportunity to join our client, Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, on the campaign trail, and we are looking forward to raising even more money on her behalf through our National Call Center to help ensure her victory in November.

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE MAKES FUNDRAISING CALLS, DEVELOPS DEEPER RESPECT FOR CALLERS

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.

Aurelia on the phone

SD&A Account Executive Aurelia Friedman makes fundraising calls as Supervisor Mike Fields observes.

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.