There is no avoiding it. You, the candidate, will have to spend a considerable amount of time on the phone asking people to invest in your campaign. Rarely is this the candidate’s favorite part of the campaign experience. Regardless of how much (or little) you enjoy dialing for dollars, you might as well agree to face reality, force a smile (Studies show that if you are smiling while on the phone, you will sound friendlier!) and start dialing for dollars.

Here are some of tips and tricks to make the most of your time making fundraising calls.

In this 4-part blog series, we’re going to show candidates how to effectively execute their campaign fundraising efforts.

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#1 Maximize Your Time

Have your call list pre-determined with phone numbers and any notes about the people you are calling. You want to get into the zone and having to stop to look up a number or google the name to remind yourself of important details will only slow you down.

Ideally- have a staff person or volunteer prepare your call lists for you!

Bob Smith – Cell # 603-123-4567

This is the first outreach to Bob. He is the President of Lincoln Bank and he spoke at the Rotary lunch last week. He is married to Susan who volunteers at the elementary school library. Be sure to mention the house party we are organizing at the Stewart’s home on Saturday evening. The Stewarts are in their neighborhood and their kids go to school together. Tell Bob you would like his thoughts on the city’s budget and hope to earn his support for your candidacy.

Valerie Ashooh (pronounced “a,” as in apple “shoe”) Home #603-123-8976

This is a follow-up call after having lunch with Valerie. She wanted more information on the campaign’s outreach to veterans. Since then we have sent Valerie additional information and we had Retired Col John Adams call her to vouch for your commitment to working with the local veterans on health care issues. You should ask her for support and to invest in the campaign for $2,500 (the highest amount an individual can give.)

Doctor Elizabeth (Liz) O’Malley – Work #603-333-2244

Liz is on the YMCA board with your campaign finance chair. She has expressed interest in your campaign and is expecting your call. She will want to hear about your plans to connect underprivileged kids in town with mentors. This is very important to her. Talk to her specifically about your time as a “Big Brother”.

#2 Rehearse What You Will Say

When you are calling folks you do not know personally, a pre-meditated phone script will help ensure you don’t ramble and that you don’t forget any important information. Before you make any calls, write down a basic script that includes your campaign contact information, information about an upcoming event or two, and of course, donation information!

"You don’t need to follow a phone script word for word. A script is a tool to help you keep on track. Use it as a guide to help you structure an engaging conversation."

#3 Prepare for Leaving Voice Mails

You will be leaving a lot of messages. Take advantage of this opportunity to sound professional, organized and engaging. Your message should be clear and concise with contact information for how they can return your call.

#4 Schedule Your Call Time

Put call time on your calendar, just as you do for all other important campaign activities…and stick to it. Making calls seems to always get bumped for anything else that pops up during your day. You will soon discover that these dreaded fundraising calls will pay off so keep at it! For some candidates, it is better to schedule longer blocks of call time just two days a week. Perhaps it takes you longer to warm up and get into a groove. For others, a regularly scheduled 40min a day on the phones is easier to accomplish.

#5 Get a Phone Call Buddy

While some candidates prefer to make calls by themselves, consider having a staff person or finance committee member/volunteer with you. They can be tasked with any follow-up as a result of your conversation. They can also serve as your personal cheerleader to get you pumped up before a big call. If you sound like you are miserable making these calls, guess what, folks aren’t going to be inspired to write your campaign a check. On the contrary, if you sound excited about the campaign, that feeling can be contagious!

Bonus Tip

Use every positive conversation as a springboard for more. If you end up having an engaging conversation with the person, regardless of their willingness to make a donation at that time, be sure to ask “who else should I call?” People like to be asked for advice and this might help you grow your campaign network. It is always easier to call someone new if you can start the call with “Susan Smith suggested I reach out to you….”

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