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Mission-Driven Marketing Blog

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Tips On How To Get Excited About Calling On Donors

Are you the type of person who dreads picking up the phone to call potential donors or sponsors? Will you do everything on your to-do list including cleaning the office just to put it off for another day? Well, you're NOT alone!   

Picking up the phone and dialing a stranger to ask them for something is SCARY. What if they hang up? What if they yell at you? What if they have no idea about you or your organization?  

Working at a nonprofit means you wear a lot of hats daily and calling donors or sponsors is inevitably one of them. I am going to share with you my top 5 tips on how to prepare before a phone call so you are making friendly “warm calls” instead of scary “cold calls.

How do I know what techniques are going to be successful and actually work? Well, not only do I have twelve years of business development experience but I’m also HubSpot certified in industry best practices on pre-call planning and “warm calls.

I just finished learning and being motivated by Dan Tyre from HubSpot (employee #6), in his Pipeline class. He walked us through the best practices on tackling your fear of picking up the phone and how to be the best warm caller you can be! I am going to share some of what I learned here with you. But I would also read this great blog from HubSpot on how to create a compelling nonprofit story! 

First, let’s define the difference between a cold call and a warm one so we are all on the same page.

Cold Call: making an unsolicited call to someone to sell or offer a service. So, calling a stranger out of the blue.

Warm Call: Having intention and understanding of who you are calling, and/or making sure that they have had some exposure to you or your organization.

So how do you get to the warm call stage?


1. Research, Research, Research. Take about 5 minutes (and the more you do this the less time it takes) to get to know the person you are calling. Check out their LinkedIn page and Facebook, review their company website (if applicable). Try to find ways to connect before calling!

  1. Know why you are calling. Write it down, type it out, practice it before you call. Having a strong intention on why you are calling: Asking for donations, looking for sponsorship, trying to rent space. If you have a clear positioning statement it will take pressure off you when they ask, “why are you calling me today?”  This blog article we wrote about creating donor personas is going to be very helpful in drafting your positioning statement.  
  1. Get them to talk. The more they engage with you over silly questions, the more open they will be to receiving your “ask.”  It is natural for humans to want to connect so BE AUTHENTIC even if the dog barks or you mess up your talk track! We are drawn to authenticity, and if your dog barks, now you have something else to talk about. “Do you have a dog? Yeah me too!"
  1. Prepare the Ask. Make a case for your sponsorship or donation request. Explain the issue at hand – talk about how your mission is focused on solving this issue and how you go about doing it - explain how their donation can make an impact. Have stats and defined examples ready to go!
  1. SMILE. People can tell the difference in tone depending on whether you are smiling or not. No matter what cause you are raising funds or sponsors for, a smile on your face comes across on the phone and helps your goal to feel more genuine.

I hope this list will inspire you to not be afraid to pick up the phone and help your nonprofit gain the donors and sponsors needed to push your mission forward! Now go get’em.

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Tapp Network

Written by Tapp Network

Tapp Network is a marketing & technology firm serving nonprofits and organizations seeking to accelerate their social impact, capacity building, and revenue growth for good.

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