Make Your Phonathon Program a Success With Just a Few Tips

Successful phonathon programs are one of the most effective ways for colleges and universities to raise funds and connect with alums. There are a variety of benefits phonathons provide, but one of the most important is that these programs raise money while simultaneously building and maintaining relationships with donors and parents. However, running a successful phonathon can be difficult. Here are a few phonathon best practices that will make your phonathon the best it can be!

Prioritize Your Audiences

When conducting a phonation, it’s essential to prioritize the audiences that you want to reach. Resources are limited and you want to direct them to the segments with the highest call potential. If someone only gives by phone, make sure they are in the calling pool. If you have alumni that never answer when you call, don’t waste a lot of time (or phone attempts) on trying to reach them. Renewals are essential for strong retention, so calling recent donors that haven’t responded to other channels should be a top priority.

Management By Walking Around (MBWA)

Get out on the call center floor with the callers! The benefit to this tactic is that your managers or supervisors are more likely to increase productivity, actively make improvements, and boost morale strictly by making check-ins and being involved. A small pat on the back, a smile of encouragement, or feedback on how to make more successful calls can go a long way!


Creating an incentive program is going to directly encourage your employees/volunteers to push the envelope when it comes to raising funds for your organization. Keep in mind, however, that incentives are not a one size fits all.

Setting a variety of incentive options will guarantee there is something for everyone. This includes setting incentives for the back end of operations, such as highest fulfillment, positive donor comments, or team goals.

Maximize Your Slow Time

If things are slow, utilize that time to accomplish other goals such as making thank you calls to current and past donors. Not only do donors love this gesture, but it is especially gratifying if it comes from a student.

Listen for Cues

Having flexibility in your conversation with a donor is very important. Listen for prospective cues such as “I’m on the way out the door,” “eating dinner,” or “lost my job,” to take the opportunity to call another time. For the best in fundraising success, aim to find out the best times that you can reach these potential donors, and turn them into dedicated donors!

With just a few of these phonathon best practices, you’ll have a fundraising campaign that is primed for success! For more tips on how to increase your donor retention, visit our blog on the best ways to thank donors.

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