Putting Faces on Your Phonathon
It takes a lot of time, effort, and resources to run a phonathon. Those investments usually pay off in that calling programs allow institutions to engage and solicit large numbers of alumni and donors in a personal way. But, as organizations face the fact that fewer prospects are answering their phones, it’s important that they find ways to run programs efficiently, but without losing the personal touch that makes calling so effective in the first place.
At the beginning of each semester, the phonathon program at Humboldt State University gathers its student callers for a group photo. The image is used to produce a large batch of postcards which are given to callers at the beginning of each shift. Then, after every successful call, students use these postcards to handwrite a short thank you note. And on the front, they circle themselves.
One of the hardest parts of producing the postcard is purely logistical: getting all of the callers in one place at one time. That’s why the shoot is usually organized at the beginning of each semester. Another challenge is more complex: integrating the sending of the postcards into the regular, ongoing pledge letter process. This is overcome by attaching a sticky note (with donor database ID) to the postcard, so it can be inserted into the mail package during production.
With just this little extra effort, “The Circled Caller” postcard helps to achieve a few important things. Primarily, it’s a quick and personal way to acknowledge a donor’s pledge or gift. Additionally, by featuring a group of smiling students, it reminds the donor of the very thing their gift supports. And finally, it helps to build a sense of community in the call center. Rather than just showing up to their shifts to pound the phones, callers have a constant reminder that they’re part of something bigger.
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