New IoF Guidance supports new era for telephone fundraising
We all know that the fundraising sector has had a tough time over the last few years, and as one of the frontline channels, telephone has often been at the eye of the storm. But things are on the up and we’re now firmly in a new era of fundraising – one that’s better regulated, has a greater focus on supporters, and that is full of potential. And with this comes a growing recognition of the valuable role the telephone can play in building and enhancing relationships with donors and supporters through genuine conversations.
To add to the renewed vigour we’re seeing in this field, this week the Institute of Fundraising (IoF) has published a new guide for its members, A Good Call: using the telephone for successful fundraising sharing its support for the telephone as a key channel within a healthy fundraising mix. The guide highlights both how telephone can be beneficial in your supporter communications and fundraising, as well as how to use it correctly within the new regulatory environment.
There have been considerable changes within the telephone fundraising world, and unsurprisingly there is still confusion over just how the channel can be used: whether it can, for example, be used for donor acquisition, which data can be used, what makes a compliant call, and not least how best to converse with members of the public. And yet telephone’s fundamental benefit has never changed, it enables conversation. Real conversations where charities can speak with and listen to their supporters: where they can ask opinions and answer questions, raise awareness, support events – and, of course, fundraise. All of which helps to build stronger supporter relationships, improving retention and loyalty.
It’s encouraging then to see the world of telephone fundraising starting to grow and thrive once more. In fact, research by the IoF released alongside its guide shows that three quarters of charities are currently using the telephone as part of their fundraising strategies: 85% of those for welcome calls, relationship building and stewardship. It’s a shift the guide encourages and supports, in not only assuring charities that it is good practice to get back on the phone but critically, telling them how to do so too.
We are proud to have fed into the IoF’s guide, just as we are proud to support our clients with our experience in delivering quality campaigns that bring great results and stronger, more mutually beneficial supporter relationships.
It’s a channel we know has much to give within a modern integrated fundraising mix.
It’s time to pick up the phone.
Client Services Director, NTT Fundraising
It’s Time to Talk – How are you?
Many of us will answer ‘fine’, even when we’re not. Too often, mental health problems are treated as a taboo subject – something not to be talked about, especially at work.
At NTT Fundraising we know just how powerful a conversation can be, so we’re proud to be supporting tomorrow’s Time to Talk Day (7th Feb) – the annual day for the Time to Change campaign that encourages everyone to talk about mental health and end discrimination.
Mental health affects us all and we should feel able to talk about it. With one in four people affected, it’s an issue that’s important to us and the wellbeing of our staff. We’re firm believers that a conversation, whether it’s face to face or over the phone, can be a positive and helpful experience.
We also know that while fundraising is a rewarding job, it can be challenging at times, so we’ll be encouraging all our staff to take part tomorrow too, to acknowledge the need to talk, to explore how mental health issues can affect us, and to know they can ask for support.
If you’d also like to participate, there are lots of great resources on the Time to Talk Day site, including tips to help you start a conversation and guides for planning activities to get more people involved. You can also take part online with the hashtag #TimetoTalk.
It doesn’t matter how you do it, the important thing is to try and get those conversations going – so collectively we can change how we think and act about mental health for the better.
With public perceptions changing, it’s a new era for the phone.
As a charity telephone communications agency we have to be aware of public opinion, and speaking to up to 1 million people a year gives us a good grasp of how the public respond to receiving telephone calls. While the phone has suffered in the past from negative perceptions fuelled in part by media reporting, the good news is, views are changing and as a result, the outlook for this channel is looking very positive.
In fact, two significant articles have been published recently that provide enlightening evidence of this shift.
Firstly, In January the latest Fundraising Preference Service (FPS) figures were released by the Fundraising Regulator.
The figures show that between November 2017 and October 2018, a total of 3,847 people made requests to charities to be removed from communications. This is a significant drop from the previous year when 5,700 went online to make a suppression request. And it’s reassuring to see that, despite a publicity campaign by the FR and significant media coverage, the figures are nowhere near as high as we first feared they might be, when some studies and articles were initially anticipating figures of up to 30 million people. (https://www.decisionmarketing.co.uk/news/up-to-30-million-could-sign-up-for-charity-opt-out)
When we look at the figures in more detail it is also interesting to note that rather than hoards of people suppressing specific channels, the vast majority are suppressing all communications. And, when a specific channel is selected it is most commonly direct mail, with just 5% selecting telephone alone.
The second article, published on decisionmarketing.co.uk, informed us that the DMA were stopping the TPS Protect mobile app due to low customer uptake. According to the piece, “ the app was originally designed to help consumers avoid unwanted calls, register their mobile number with the Telephone Preference Service and quickly register complaints about nuisance or scam calls”.
But consumers are simply not using it and the service is now being discontinued.
So what does all this mean? For me, it seems that the public are not as anti-telephone as we were led to believe. Don’t get me wrong, I know that there are other significant factors that influence these figures. It could be argued that the Telephone Preference Service is more credible now – the fact that it is 12% smaller than this time last year with the removal of 2.7m records suggests registration is more purposeful. We also have the new consent regulations brought in by GDPR, which are having an impact on how phone data is used, and technology within mobile phones can also play a part. In addition, public trust in charities is increasing and the Great British public are renowned for being a kind and generous lot, who more often than not want to support good causes and truly make a difference to the world around them.
A new era of faith and positivity seems to be dawning. As more charities see just how the telephone can help them engage with supporters, more are coming back to it, and receiving a positive response. As a result, the outlook both for charity fundraising and long-term stewardship looks good. So, is it time for you to pick up the phone?
Client Services Director, NTT Fundraising
Thanking Supporters at Christmas
08/11/2018 (First published by UK Fundraising on 26/10/18)
Why ‘thank you’ might be the most important thing you could say to supporters this Christmas
As is the case for so many fundraisers, we are well in the thick of Christmas campaign planning. We’re thinking long and hard about the importance of taking a donor-centric approach, without shying away from the all-important ask.
But – now and again – that’s what we do – we strip out the ask altogether. We simply call to say thank you and it’s incredible how powerful those calls can be.
This got me thinking: should we – as a sector – be doing things differently this Christmas? Traditionally a time for giving, what if charities were to use the festive period to give back to supporters, thanking them for all they have done?
The power of saying thank you
Last year’s recommendations from the Commission on the Donor Experience highlights the immense potential for charities to use the phone to thank supporters. And we couldn’t agree more. We’ve found that a sincere and heartfelt thank you call, tailored to that individual, can have a tremendous impact, particularly when it comes to nurturing supporter relationships.
When charity communications are so often a request for help, making a personal call to say ‘thanks’ is a unique opportunity to let supporters know just how valued they are.
No fundraising ask. No ask of any kind. Just a genuine thank you.
You might say it on behalf of your CEO, from everyone at your organisation, or on behalf of your beneficiaries.
Essentially, it’s an opportunity to put your supporters first; to remind them that so much of the vital work you undertake could not happen without them and how much they have enabled the charity to achieve.
Nothing beats the human touch. A call gives you the opportunity to connect with the person at the other end of the phone. Think about what can you do to make them feel truly valued, so that this call will really make their day, how it can be positive and memorable. Will you make them smile? Will the call change the way they see your charity? What will they tell their friends and family about the experience?
The impact of a thank you call
In one thank you campaign that we delivered for a client over the Christmas period, we spoke to 8,500 supporters to say a massive thank you and, where relevant, asked supporters to confirm their future contact preferences.
Above all, we wanted to deepen supporter relationships and make sure they felt truly treasured. But the results of the campaign and insight it offered were far greater and more wide-ranging than many might have expected.
Arguably the most obvious but no less important finding was that supporters were genuinely surprised and happy to receive the call. People often assume that supporters don’t want to be called, but the feedback received was hugely positive, and, importantly, there were no complaints at all.
Most supporters wanted to hear from the charity again and we secured a new email consent rate of 35%. This meant the charity could better understand not only how supporters wanted to hear from them in the future, but now had a range of options to continue building those relationships.
Deepening understanding of your supporter base
The impact of a great call is further reaching than just the feel-good factor of the call itself. Ultimately, these conversations enable us to build our knowledge and understanding of supporters.
During this particular campaign, we identified 55 vulnerable donors, which enabled the charity to adapt the way it communicates with those people accordingly and to offer them added support. Three legacy pledgers also identified themselves during the calls, helping the charity to see how connected those individuals feel to the cause and how best to communicate with them in the future.
Of course, I had no sooner put pen to paper to write this blog when up popped this great piece from Richard Turner about Solar Aid’s Thanks A Million campaign, sharing how well a simple thank you call worked for them.
So, what if we could collectively turn Christmas on its head and make it less about the ask and more about voicing a genuine, well-delivered thank you to supporters across the country?
Supporter engagement and public trust has never been more important. Now is the time to reassess the power of a simple thank you.
NTT Fundraising is launching a year-long research project measuring the effect of thank you calls on supporter engagement and charitable giving. Charities interested in participating are encouraged to get in touch at email@example.com
NTT’s 30th Birthday
On Thursday 17th March 1988 the first call was made from NTT and we have been changing the world ever since. Over the last 30 years, we have spoken to over 16 million people and have raised approximately £200 million for our 160 charity partners.
We would like to thank all of our wonderful charity partners and fundraisers for helping NTT to be the best telephone fundraising agency there is!
World’s Biggest Coffee Morning for Macmillan Cancer Support
NTT held its annual World’s Biggest Coffee Morning for Macmillan Cancer Support. Lots of lovely cakes along with savoury items were sold in the break room and a ‘guess the height of the cake’ competition took place.
We contributed to the fantastic £27 million pounds raised by Coffee Mornings across the country. The money will be used to support people living with cancer along with their friends and family, throughout their cancer journey.
First in Charity Sector to become TPS Assured
The upheaval in the fundraising and charity sector has brought many pressing issues to the fore, not least of which is how vital it is for charitable organisations and agencies to manage their communications in order that they ensure they respect the wishes of donors and potential donors.
NTT Fundraising has joined a select group of organisations in becoming TPS Assured. No other organisation within the sector, whether charity or agency has successfully passed this Institute of Fundraising endorsed audit. We are proud to represent the charity sector as the gold standard in telemarketing excellence and hope that we are playing our part in sending a strong message to the public that fundraising organisations are taking criticism and accusations seriously.
TPS Assured certification indicates that the business not only complies with all the rules governing telemarketing but also respects the wishes of donors and potential donors by following best practice. At NTT we have undergone forensic analysis of our databases and systems to ensure that the way in which we handle charity data is compliant with all current legislation.
As well as becoming TPS Assured, we have also become full members of the DMA after successfully completing the compliance audit. In 2013 we became certified in ISO 9001 (Quality Management) and ISO 27001 (Information Security Management) which was undoubtedly an important step to becoming TPS Assured. We have always been confident in our robust compliance regime but having this now validated by the TPS themselves will give the public assurance in our approach.
Trustees now have greater responsibilities when it comes to fundraising and the TPS Assured certificate gives them the reassurances that they need. Gaining this certificate this is vital to improve the public perception of charities. The trustees and fundraising managers of our charity partners can demonstrate due diligence and work with us in confidence. More importantly, their supporters can then have confidence in the charity too.
For more information about TPS Assured and what the certification means, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org