Personalizing Phonathon Follow-Up with Thank You Videos

Posted on 02/11/2015

UCSD Thank You Video ImageThere’s a lot that can influence someone’s decision to respond to an appeal. When does it occur? Who’s asking? How compelling is the case? How much is asked for? How long has it been since any previous gifts and what have you done for them since?

Personalization also plays a big role. Suffice it to say, the more personal that an appeal feels, the higher the likelihood that the prospect will respond positively to it. That’s one reason why conversion rates for email and direct mail appeals are generally lower than conversion rates for phone calls or face-to-face asks.

The Phonathon Program at The University of California, San Diego has found a great way to connect with their prospects in a personal way. After each pledge, they use an iPad camera to film the student caller saying a personal thanks to the person with whom they spoke. Then they email it to the prospect with the subject line: A Quick Thank You. They record using QuickTime movie and send it in an email as an attachment. Because they’re short and quick, they’re actually a really small file size (2MB) and easy to email.

“Right now, we send thank you videos to anyone who makes a pledge or gift,” says Meredith Johnston, Executive Director of Annual Giving & Regional Advancement. “When our supervisors were short-staffed, we had to cut back to first time and newly reacquired donors, but we’re back to all donors again!”

The videos are unscripted and usually shot in one take, and as a result, they’re often admittedly unpolished – even intentionally unpolished. Johnston said that they really set out to make them quick and timely, so they arrive within a few minutes of getting off the phone. They also felt strongly that they needed to be real, organic, and “charmingly authentic.” She feels like the fact that they are clearly not slick, pre-shot videos fosters a stronger feeling of connection between donors and students.

And the 60 seconds or so that it takes to make and send this video is quickly proving to be a worthwhile investment. “It is strengthening retention and fulfillment rates already,” says Johnston, “and we’re getting a lot of really touching feedback. People really love them—we’re building stronger relationships, creating positive giving experiences in our phonathon, and increasing results… all for the low, low price of two cheap iPads.”

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