Thanks to Don't Tell the Donor, we saw a news report recently that the Republican National Committee had fired all 65 of its in-house telemarketers. Figures given by one solicitor indicated that 2007 phone contributions might be down nearly 40% from 2006.

We wondered, “Is this just the result of a lousy political climate for Republicans, or is it really a sign of the fading effectiveness of tele-fundraising?”

After all, isn't all the buzz these days about online fundraising?

So we interviewed Ken Whitaker, President of Public Interest Communications (PIC), a nearly 30 year institution in the tele-fundraising biz, to get an update on the channel everyone (especially board members) loves to hate.

PIC's clients include a wide swath of the best-known brands in the cause and charity worlds — ACLU, Metropolitan Opera, DNC, WWF and Audubon, and public broadcasters like WETA and WNET, and many others. So it appears that tele-fundraising is alive and well … perhaps in more selective circumstances.

Among Ken's observations:

  • Telemarketing is an effective way to convert online leads;
  • Applications like recruiting for monthly giving and surfacing prospects for planned giving work well;
  • Typical contact rates top out these days at about 60% of those with available phone numbers (and for an active house file, phone numbers might be available for 65% of names);
  • The economics no longer permit cost-effective calling to folks giving at the $20 or less level.

For more, you can get Ken's interview here, or simply download from our Agitator home page in the White Papers section.

We'd be happy to publish some telemarketing success stories if you'd care to share them with us.

Roger & Tom

Disclaimer: Roger Craver founded PIC, but no longer has a financial interest in the company.

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