Phonathon is a New Donor Engine

Joshua Robertson

April 13, 2015


This is an abstract from our latest white paper: The Value of Robust Phonathons.

Why is phonathon such an effective channel for acquiring new donors?

Our team pondered, debated and researched this question and came up with a few conclusions that we wanted to share with our readers.

You Can’t Have a Conversation with a Letter

Well, technically you could, but we don’t think it would be very fruitful.


Phonathon provides your constituents with the opportunity to engage 1-on-1 with your organization.

You can look at your phonathon callers as a small army of gift officers. There’s a reason you don’t just send direct mail and emails to your major gift donors and prospects.  While it would be great if every prospective donor could meet live with a gift officer, that’s just not feasible.  Phone provides you the next best option to have a two-way dialogue with your constituents.  Unlike other channels, you can’t just set it aside for later…you’re having a conversation with another person that share similar interests and background as you.

The Power of Negotiation

Do you ever wish your fiscal year end email or mail piece could crawl back out of the trash or delete folder and ask the intended recipient, “are you sure you don’t want to give?” If you’ve figured out a way to do this, please give us a call.

Let’s face it, it’s a natural reaction for people to say “no” at first.  The power of phonathon is it provides you the opportunity to negotiate past that initial “no,” deepen the engagement with the prospective donor based on what he or she shares with you and hopefully turn a “no” into a yes.

Dynamic & Data-Driven


To evolve your annual giving program all channels should be “data driven” but if you have a robust phonathon you can make data driven decisions on an ongoing basis by analyzing statistics and tweaking your strategy.  For example, you might find that certain callers are much more effective at engaging and soliciting life-experienced alumni.  You can use this data to determine who’s going to call this group and garner the best results.  Another example: you might learn that certain groups of non-donors are hanging up after the initial ask.  You can use this data to inform testing lower ask strategies and measuring the results.  While you can test via any channel, phonathon allows you to do so before everyone hears your message and you can see the data daily that drives your decisions.

What percent of your new donors do you acquire via phone?

Read more about our experience using phonathon to acquire new donors in our latest white paper.

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