The Incredible Power of the Phone…a 400% increase in donations!

When I received their latest newsletter and read this article about phoning donors, I immediately got in touch with Sumac Research who gave me permission to share it with you.

I’d love to hear from you how the phone has made a difference in your donor communications programs.

Best, Gayle


From Sumac Research, Software helping nonprofits at

“The telephone, which interrupts the most serious conversations and cuts short the most weighty observations, has a romance of its own.” ~ Virginia Woolf

… Here are 3 proven ways to increase donations using a simple phone call that does not involve asking for money. Instead, these phone calls are to thank donors, update them and offer encouragement. The results are astounding!

1. Board members calling to thank donors increases donations 39%

Penelope Burk, author of Donor Centered Fundraising, is constantly conducting research to find out what donors want and what you need to do, in terms of communication and recognition, to hold onto them. One of the things she found was how powerful a thank you phone call from a board member can be.

In one study, board members called to thank donors within 24 hours of making a gift. The results were amazing: Donors who were called gave 39% more the next time they were solicited. After 14 months, those called were giving 42% more.

It’s hard to argue with statistics! Even though your board members might not be able to call all of your donors, selecting just a few to call each week can have a huge impact.

2. Staff calling to update donors increases donation 41%

Here’s some more shocking research. This time from The Thistle Foundation, which provides support to people living with physical and learning disabilities. They wanted to see if a courtesy call to update and thank regular donors for their support so far, before a new telephone campaign began, would result in more donors upgrading the amount they gave. And, it’s important to note that “the call did not include a request for money. It was purely to report the work of the Thistle Foundation, tell the donor how their money had contributed and thank them for their continued support.”

A random sample of 2,000 regular monthly donors was targeted for the test. They were split into two groups: 1,000 received courtesy calls and the remaining 1,000 did not.

What was the result? Well, “the gross revenue received from the first group was also 41 per cent higher than that received from the second group.” Pretty amazing what a simple phone call can do!

3. Staff calling to encourage event participants increases pledge donations 400%

Last, but certainly not least, research conducted by hjc nonprofit consulting shows that it is well worth your while to call pledge participants to offer encouragement. In their findings, participants who received one phone call to offer encouragement and help, raised about 100% more for their organization than those who weren’t.

The phone call sounded something like this: “Thanks so much for signing up to take part in this event! Do you need help setting up your donation page, or sending out emails to your family and friends to get support?” Immediately after these types of phone calls, participants got busy with their page and asking their friends to support them.

And there’s more. Those participants who received a second phone call to say something like “Hey, you’re doing a great job getting pledges, keep up the good work! Also, did you know you can increase your goal?” raised about 400% more.

If you are not calling your event participants, start!

So, the moral of the story: as technology changes, don’t forget about the beauty and power of the phone. It connects you directly with your supporters, and if you use it correctly, results in better relationships and larger donations!


Reprinted with permission from

Sumac, Affordable, Complete Donor Management & Fundraising Software

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