Friday, August 10, 2007

New column every Monday--"Fundraising Guru"--August 13,2007

“Noble Calling”: Larry Butler on raising money for great causes over the phone
By Dr. Stephen L. Goldstein

Do you dread the thought of fundraising on the phone—even when your favorite nonprofit asks you to? Would you do almost anything to avoid having to “dial for dollars”? I’m guessing that 99 percent of (especially) volunteer fundraisers would agree with you.

But not national telemarketing expert and trainer, Lawrence Butler. His enthusiasm for telemarketing is limitless and contagious. And his “insider’s guide” on ethical ways to get donors delighted to say yes and be generous on the phone is sine qua non for nonprofits everywhere. Butler is senior consultant at MacGuire Associates (Concord, MA), His expertise is so valuable, I’ve interviewed him on my radio program, “Fundraising Success,” on WXEL/National Public Radio. (You may hear those interviews at any time from anywhere in the world, by going to and clicking on the dates 6/17/07, 7/15/07, 7/2207, 7/29/07).

Butler focuses on telemarketing to contributors who have already given to an organization, not on cold calls. From his interviews, here are 11 of his boundless, invaluable, professional observations and strategies:

1. People will give over the phone. They are not offended. They appreciate the personal connection that comes from a phone call. They will make big gifts. They will make a donation by credit card.

2. It’s all about your attitude. Your success begins and ends with you.

3. Your commitment trumps everything else. The more you believe in the cause for which you are calling, the more successful you will be. You have to believe to be believed. Never feel apologetic or embarrassed about calling. You have a “right” to call because you are so committed.

4. Your tone, especially at first, is crucial. Be authentic.

5. Eighty percent of your success depends upon your preconceptions. Be positive. Don’t make a call thinking about whether people can give or will want to give. They will pick up on your doubt and turn it against you.

6. Think of your call as a three-act “play,” lasting about five minutes. It’s “improv”: You must have a script to start with. But reinterpret it in your own way. Don’t be robotic.

7. Act One: Make the Connection. Introduce yourself professionally. Thank them profusely for having been a supporter in the past. Promise you’ll be brief. Don’t ask, “Is this a good time to talk?” You want to control the call.

8. Act Two: Reasons to Give. Give them a compelling fact or facts. It’s all about overcoming objections. Your listener doesn’t realize it, but you’ve thought about all of them before. So, you mirror what they say as they may object, but move them along. For example: “I understand your hesitancy to give $100, a number of people are in the same situation, but they still feel they want to make a financial commitment.”

9. Urgency is very important. Create an immediate reason for people to see the importance of giving.

10. Act Three: Request the Contribution on a Credit Card. The fulfillment rate is greatest.

11. Get to the point. It’s tempting and useful to engage in conversation. People want to talk. Don’t get sidetracked.

Stephen L. Goldstein is the author of 30 Days to Successful Fundraising, now in its second printing. He is producer and host of “Fundraising Success” on WXEL/National Public Radio in South Florida, broadcast Sundays 7 to 8 p.m. and available at any time from anywhere in the world at Email your comments and questions to him at

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