Status is onlineRobert Grabel
Nonprofit Leadership Coach and Consultant
106 articlesWhy should I care, why should I care?
From 5:15 by the Who from the film and album Quadrophenia
Truth be told I’m more of a progressive rock fan – bands like Yes, King Crimson and Genesis have always been my favorites. But Pete Townshend and Company said it perfectly with line above: Why Should I Care? And I know they’re on to something because early on in their career, their 2nd album was smartly titled “A Quick One”.
One of our longest surviving bands has provided us with the best road map for creating an effective cold calling script. The key message your prospect needs to hear is “Why Should I Care” and equally important, it must be quick and simple. Throw in their other hit “I Can See for Miles” – keeping a long-term focus – and you have the perfect recipe for your cold call efforts. OK, no more Who comparisons…
As a follow-up to my post “Should Nonprofits Cold Call” (http://www.trainingforgoodinc.com/blog-basic-training/should-nonprofits-cold-call) I wanted to provide essentials for building a call script. I’ve learned about cold-call prospecting through training and trial and error. My first experience was building a book of business as an advisor in the financial services industry. Over the past 16 years in the nonprofit sector, I’ve continued to make calls whether it was for my own start-up or working with large national charities. I’ve learned your call can be delivered in three tight sentences as follows:
1. Who are you and what do you do? This seems straight forward. It’s not. There’s a tendency to share more information than necessary and before credibility is established. The goal is simple: Let the caller know your name, organization, and what you do.
Good example: Hi, this is Robert Grabel with Teens Run Westchester, a local mentoring organization that helps our young people lead successful healthy lives.
Bad example: Hi, this is Robert Grabel. I was calling because I want (on and on and on).
2. Why are you calling? What’s your purpose in calling today. No long explanations. And of course, no formal ask. You haven’t earned that right or established it as a possibility.
Good Example: I’m calling today because I’d like to set up a quick meeting to share why there are some common interests for us working together.
Bad Example: I’m calling today because we’re looking for a $10,000 sponsorship and we heard you have money, are looking for some good PR etc.
3. Why should I care? Where’s the alignment? Why should they care to share their valuable time with you? If you’re struggling, take another look at your prospect list. Who is on it and why? If your only connection to your prospect is their appearance on lists made available to the public you’re fighting a losing battle.
Good Example: Listen, I know we haven’t spoken before but (name of contact) suggested reaching out to you due to your interest in mentoring.
Bad Example: Listen, I know we haven’t spoken before but we’re calling the top 25 companies in our city to see if they’ll help.
The topic of cold-calling scripting is worthy of a much longer discussion and lots of books (they’re out there). What I’ve tried to provide are quick tips on getting a starter script. Ultimately, if you stick with it, play with your wording and stay consistent, you’ll find what works for you. If you have questions or need more ideas, please let me know at email@example.com
Fundraiser: I don't have time to make cold calls!
Me: You don’t have time NOT to make cold calls!
If you happened to see my post last week called Should Nonprofits Cold ( in case you didn’t, here’s the link: http://www.trainingforgoodinc.com/blog-basic-training/should-nonprofits-cold-call), you know I’m an advocate on the topic. To summarize, you have everything to gain by building in a set block of time for cold calls into your week. I’m confident that at minimum, these calls will keep you sharp on your message. And best case, you’ll find some great prospects. But before you can hit the phone, let me guess:
Wow! Are we busy or what? How can we possibly find time for these cold calls?
Notice some similarities in the above activities? While they’re all essential to the longer-term success of your fundraising efforts, none of them need to be done during donor facing hours. I’m guessing you didn’t sign up for fundraising or business development because you’re a 9 to 5 person. Those are the hours you should be talking to real live people who can say YES. All the rest, like the list up there, are preparation for activity.
Here’s the good news. I’m not going to be unreasonable and suggest you do nothing but talk to prospects and donors during these hours. What I am going to suggest are some easy steps to allow you to start building these calls into your day:
Create YOUR calendar: These days organizations may call these Victory or Success calendars. Since we’re all a bit different I’d just call it Your Calendar. The catch is to think about how you can work most effectively and structure your week accordingly. If you’re a slow starter with low energy in the morning, that’s a great time for research and prep work. Or maybe the opposite is true. Most importantly, figure out when you’ll be at your best with people and maximize your time talking to some you know and some you want to know.
Lose an activity (or two or three): Every profession has their equivalent of on-site boondoggles. In our profession and like others, there’s always a training or webinar we can do. I’m certainly not advocating passing up opportunities to learn and be better. What I am suggesting is that there’s a diminishing value of those one can do in a set period. And that value is even further diminished by the opportunity cost of meeting new prospects. So, take a good hard honest look at one or two or even more activities, events or trainings you can shelve in favor of an hour of calls.
Be Inflexible: The most important rule of all when it comes to creating your calling time is to BE INFLEXIBLE. Remember, I'm talking just about your calendar and not your entire life. But truly own your time so you can invest it and not just spend it. And investing it in making these calls can have an awesome ROI.
So start now and I’d love to hear how your calls are turning out. If you need help with a calling plan, visit www.yournonprofitnow.com
A recent U.S. Department of Justice report shows that the majority of violent crimes committed each year are committed by offenders the victim knew.
From the March 17th Background Report https://www.backgroundalert.com/pa/?paid=6
The note above is a real downer for launching a discussion about identifying prospects. But trust me, it’s relevant. I could have gone all inspirational. Or tough. But this isn’t Alec Baldwin’s speech in Glengarry Glen Ross. It’s my follow up to my post “Should Nonprofits Cold Call?”. The original is at: http://www.trainingforgoodinc.com/blog-basic-training/should-nonprofits-cold-call
I’ve worked with many well-intentioned board members, volunteers and professional fundraisers. Nevertheless, no matter how smart and strategic they were, the most common mistake is the tendency to start with outsiders, literally strangers, when putting together prospect lists for cold calls (and any other development activity). We make the Criminal Mistake of ignoring our best suspects also known as our best prospects: individuals and institutions that already know our organization and work.
Conversations like this are clear danger signals that the crime is taking place:
Why don’t we ask (fill in name of community leader with no connection to the nonprofit)? How about (fill in name of philanthropist or corporation that sponsors others)? This is followed up by my all-time favorite: Does anybody know (fill in name)? Silence. Deep sigh throughout the room…
My hunch is that you’ve heard countless conversations like the one above at brainstorming sessions. I don’t know why this happens. What I do know; however, is that it’s the most difficult path to pursue. It’s particularly difficult compared to the easier and far more productive alternative of identifying potential donors and partners with connections to your charity and its work.
If you’re taking the wise approach of developing a list of prospective donors to call, I recommend doing the following:
1) Put together a script with the potential to secure first meetings;
2) Put together a list that leverages existing connections with prospective donors. I’d prioritize your calls to connect with the following groups:
Your Inner Ring: Start with individuals, companies or foundations with a natural connection to your organization. For example, if you run the local food bank, you probably have a relationship with local markets. If you do work related to health and wellness, you could go local i.e. pharmacies, doctors or reach out more broadly i.e. regional pharmaceuticals.
Your Middle Ring: Move onto those that with an indirect or less frequent but identifiable connection. From a corporate or institutional perspective, these may be entities you deal with once or twice a year. Or perhaps they have a tangential relationship with your charity. An easy way to think of it putting it into terms with individual donors; these are folks you see on one or two occasions a year (i.e. a holiday party).
Your Outer Ring: Round it out with those with a historical relationship. Perhaps it’s a company that sponsored you a few years ago but contact was broken. Or it’s one you asked last year, turned you down but no one continued the conversation. Again, framing it around individuals, it might be the people whose emails you’ve had since AOL asked subscribers to pay $11.95 monthly – but you never deleted them. I’m aging myself here but you get the picture.
Notice something? These aren’t cold calls! They’re new – or renewed attempts – at engaging you best potential donors.
Try it and if I can help, let me know. I’m at Robert.firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Grabel is the President of Nonprofit Now! You can find his posts here and at www.robertgrabel.com
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