Political Call Time Fundraising: How To Make the Ask
From national elections to local campaigns, running for public office requires you to raise money to reach targeted voters across the district and mobilize them to get out and vote. For your campaign, you’ll need to set up an online fundraising platform, plan at least a few major fundraising events, and execute other political fundraising ideas to raise the money you need to hit your goals.
Of course, one of the most surefire ways to raise money from important donors is to ask them personally. However, it may not be practical to meet with all of your major donors face-to-face to make a fundraising ask. That’s where call time comes in.
Call time offers campaigns another way to contact donors through a one-on-one conversation, but it requires less time and planning than in-person meetings may require. It’s one of the most prominent ways to raise money to quickly help you achieve your fundraising goals. In this blog, we’ll discuss what call time is, how to make fundraising asks over the phone, and some tools that can make call time even more effective for your campaign.
Understanding Fundraising Call Time
While call time can be easy to start with a donor list and a phone, there are a few steps you’ll want to take before, during, and after calls to help set yourself up for success. But first, let’s describe what call time is and then dive into the process.
What is Political Fundraising Call Time?
Call time is a method to raise money for political campaigns through one-on-one conversations with donors over the phone. Essentially, political candidates and their campaign staff use it to call people and ask them to donate to their campaign. While asking for donations can be uncomfortable, it is also a necessary part of political fundraising that is vital to winning elections.
Call Time Process
Prior to making any calls, you’ll want to research who you’re calling to ensure you make a well-informed ask. You can usually find public information (like job title, industry, etc.) that may help you craft your ask. NGP users can also use our Donor Target Scores and Reports to further supplement your own research. The ultimate goal of call time is to make a well-informed ask to effectively meet your fundraising goals. For instance, if you only ask someone for $100, but they could have given you $1,000, that’s a missed opportunity, and you’ll have to make that money elsewhere.
Once you complete your research, you can start making calls. It may take a few calls to get into the fundraising groove, but it’s a learning process. As you complete more calls, you’ll have more natural conversations with donors, easily field objections or issues raised by donors, and hopefully secure more donations.
After you complete your calls, you’ll want to follow up with all the donors you contacted or attempted to contact with a brief email or text either thanking them for their time (and contribution if they made one) or explaining that you tried to reach them and hope to speak to them soon. Some campaigns also choose to follow up on contributions through thank-you letters or notes, so establish your follow-up process early so you can execute it as contributions roll in. Now that you understand the process, let’s discuss some call time best practices.
Best Practices for Call Time
Asking for donations doesn’t have to be awkward or uncomfortable. By following these best practices, you can set yourself up for success and start making more effective fundraising asks in no time.
Build Rapport with Donors
If you’re talking to prospective donors (otherwise known as prospects), begin your calls by introducing—or reintroducing in some cases—your campaign to the potential donor. Share a brief overview of the position you or your candidate is running for, their values, commitment to the community, and plans for the future. You may also want to talk a bit about yourself and why you’ve chosen to dedicate yourself to the campaign. A brief story about your candidate’s (or your own) values may inspire donors to think about their own experiences and how they might connect with you or your candidate as well.
If you’re speaking to existing donors, you probably won’t need to introduce them to the campaign. But you may want to introduce yourself if you’re making calls on behalf of the campaign (if you aren’t the candidate yourself). Rather than focusing on securing their initial contribution, these donors need to be convinced to give again. While these donors may be driven to give for different reasons, it can be helpful to share new and exciting news from the campaign to warm up your conversation with them. For instance, sharing fundraising or voter contact milestones, upcoming events, or opening a campaign headquarters can be helpful to inspire some donors to give again to keep fueling your momentum.
The right introduction will make the call feel more personal, helping build a rapport that can generate buy-in from both prospective and existing donors.
Learn a Little About Them
Each call should be a two-way conversation. Ahead of the call, your finance team should research donors to gather more information about them to inform your ask. Then, during the call, spend a few minutes making a personal connection with each donor by asking personal questions, such as:
- How are they doing? While some donors may want to jump right into discussing election-related topics, a brief “How are you?” lets donors know you’re looking for a conversation, not a lecture, and that you and your candidate value their input.
- What issue areas are they most interested in? Gauge how the donor feels about the campaign, and ensure that you or your candidate has the information they need to make sure the call focuses on the issues they care about the most.
- How are they engaging as supporters this cycle? Understanding the supporter’s current thoughts on the election can help you or your candidate encourage them to take the next step to engage further, no matter where they’re currently at in their supporter journey.
Getting to know your prospects will help you or your candidate engage supporters more personally and make more appropriate asks.
Take a Deeper Dive
At this point, you’ve established a rapport with your donor and they’re more likely to be receptive to hearing the details about your campaign. Seize this opportunity and dive deeper into the great work you or your candidate plans to do when they are elected.
Your goal should be to clearly explain what you or your candidate plans to accomplish with the help of supporters in the community. Use the information gathered earlier to make sure that the values and plans you talk about are relevant to your donor’s concerns.
Make the Ask
This step is often the most challenging as it has a few moving parts. Here’s how they break down:
- Reiterate that all of the goals and plans that you’ve discussed so far will only be possible with the potential donor’s support.
- Plainly state your fundraising goal, including the target amount, what you need it for, and the deadline to raise it.
- Ask for a specific dollar amount that you feel is appropriate for this donor based on your conversation with them, their donor history with your organization, and any other contributing factors. Don’t be afraid of asking for a higher amount to start with, you can make a secondary ask for a lower amount if they signal that your request is too much.
When you build upon each step of this process, the ask will feel more natural, you’ll likely raise more money, and donors will feel more connected to your candidate and more invested in the success of your campaign.
If they say yes, either process the contribution over the phone or ask a member of the finance team to follow up with those who have pledged to donate to your campaign. If they say no, ask why not. If it’s a bad time, ask when would be the best time to contact them. If the ask amount is too high, suggest a lower amount. By asking why not, you can more accurately identify the concern and address it to try and secure a donation rather than ending the conversation with them after they say no. Regardless of if a donation is secured or not, the next step is vital in building a trusted relationship with your supporters after you contact them and ask for a donation.
Say Thank You
The last and most important step is to follow up with the supporter to say thank you. The finance team can handle this with a call, thank-you note, or email. Sometimes, a thoughtful, handwritten thank-you note can make donors feel like their donation made a difference and possibly increase the odds that they’ll give again.
Even if a donation isn’t made, the finance team should follow up to thank the supporter for their time and include a secondary ask, like attending an event or volunteering. This builds the relationship with the supporter and demonstrates that you value all of the ways that they can contribute.
When following up, remember that each time you engage with supporters is an opportunity to cultivate their relationship with your campaign.
Fundraising Call Time Tools
NGP VAN offers two tools that can help you make call time even more efficient: Call Time Mobile and Call Time Connect. Here’s a breakdown of how each of these two products can help you connect with donors:
Call Time Mobile
Call Time Mobile is a downloadable app that NGP users can use to call targeted donor lists and follow up with them via text or email. Through the app, users can view donor profiles, including key information about their donation history, contact information, and other notes they’ve previously taken.
In Call Time Mobile, you can easily work through your call time list, using the app to mark whether you were able to connect with the donor and how much they pledged to give or raise for you. After a call, the app will move the corresponding donor to a separate “completed” tab, allowing you to move through the rest of your call list with ease.
Every time you update the app, new information is synced back to NGP, ensuring your team has accurate, real-time results from your fundraising call time efforts. You also save time by entering data as you go rather than inputting it after the call time is completed.
Call Time Connect
Call donors straight from your computer in NGP with Call Time Connect. This technology allows you to make calls from a unique phone number with a local area code and forward callbacks to a phone number or voicemail box of your choosing. Call Time Connect also allows multiple members of your team to join a call to complete multiple tasks during a single call. For example, you can have a team member set up calls to ensure a donor is available before getting your candidate to join while another staffer takes notes.
Both Call Time Mobile and Call Time Connect make it easier to engage with your donors during call time and then follow up with them afterward, saving your campaign time and helping you raise more money during the busy election season.
Raise More Money from Call Time
Call time fundraising can be one of the best ways to hit your fundraising goals and ensure you have the resources needed to run a competitive campaign. Get in touch with our team to learn more about our call time tools and how they can help you efficiently and effectively raise money for your campaign.