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[ASK AN EXPERT] What is the Best Way to Acquire Donor Phone Numbers?

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Our Ask An Expert series features real questions answered by Claire Axelrad, J.D., CFRE, our very own Fundraising Coach, also known as Charity Clairity.

Dear Charity Clairity,

Do you have any tips for acquiring phone numbers? We have many long-time donors for whom we only have a mailing address. We do ask on the remit, but often it’s left blank. Our online form for giving collects more, but most gifts still come by mail.
— Call Me Maybe?

Dear Call Me Maybe,

You’re certainly on the right track wanting to make phone calls to donors. Especially if you begin with prompt, personal thank you calls which, research shows, deliver a powerful punch when it comes to increasing subsequent donor retention and gift size.

A tried-and-true way to acquire phone numbers is to ask repeatedly, every place you can think of. And, make it easy and compelling for donors to offer their information. You’ll want to be clear that this is optional because you don’t want to depress gift completion. Make sure though, when you offer a place to add/update a phone number, it:

Stands out prominently
  • On your donation landing page
  • On your thank you landing page
  • In your thank you email
Includes a donor-centered reason people should give you their phone number
  • Such as “in case we have questions regarding your gift”
  • Such as “your number is for internal use only; we will never give it out”
  • Such as “so we can quickly inform you when new auction items are posted”
  • Such as “so you can easily participate in community conference calls, at your convenience”

Another way to find phone numbers, if you have a mailing address, is to use a reverse directory. There are many options available. You can try a Google search. The problem with this technique is it’s a true research project. Sometimes you’ll find something; often not. And the information can be outdated or incorrect.

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There are also donor data append services you can purchase. There are many data append or enrichment services available such as Donor Search, iWave or Wealth Engine. CRM providers also offer a data append and enrichment service as part of their solution and can often find the phone numbers you seek–Bloomerang, Donor Perfect, Double the Donation, and Blackbaud, among others, offer these services. In addition to finding phone numbers, these services can also help you find email addresses. Begin by contacting your own donor database or CRM provider to see what they offer and what other services they may integrate with.

Interestingly, I find donors more willing to give out phone numbers than in previous years when Caller ID didn’t function and there was no good “Do Not Call” registry. And even dining reservation and food delivery services commonly ask for phone numbers these days, so people have become more used to sharing this information. Especially when it suits their purposes. Since people can answer the phone when they want to, they’re less reluctant to share this information.

Once you’ve got the phone number, make sure you use it strategically. See 7 Steps to Getting Started with Telephone Fundraising. Also see Why You Should Text Your Donors.

I hope these tips help change things for you from “Call Me Maybe” to “I Just Called to Say I Love You.”

— Charity Clairity

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  • Sabitha from CHF

    Looking for good donors for the treatment of the child and for CSR activities like BFC @ metro station already we hv completed 2 stations yet to be done @ 4 more stations looking for support. My no is 8660607468 from child help foundation Bangalore
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