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3 simple steps to increase your phonathon’s effectiveness

Posted January 5, 2014 by Timi Paccioretti

Note: Before joining the LGL team, I was actively engaged in the work of non-profit fundraising. The information in this article comes specifically from my most recent experiences with phonathons in my capacity as a school advancement director.

Until recently, the word I most associated with phonathons was “painful!” Following yet another frustrating phonathon effort‚ hours spent calling on nights and weekends, netting only a handful of pledges but mounds of paperwork‚ it was time to ask myself, are phonathons dying or is there a better and more efficient way to conduct them?

I knew the successes my colleagues were having with phonathons. I believed they offered a great opportunity to connect with constituents in a way that was different from direct mail campaigns. I needed to make our phonathons work better, be more efficient, and ultimately be less painful.

The first thing I realized was that our phonathon effort overall needed to be more strategic, to be part of a year-long solicitation plan focused on educating, engaging, and involving our constituents in our organization’s mission. The days of randomly calling everyone in our database were over. It worked. Through defining a comprehensive appeal strategy and using the information in our database, phonathons became one of the most useful tools in our advancement toolbox.

Here’s how you can increase your phonathon’s efficiency and effectiveness in 3 simple steps:

Step 1. Define your phonathon strategy and create a segmented appeal
The first step in any successful appeal is to determine who your prospects are. The temptation is to say, “Everyone!” But your phonathon will be much more successful if you prioritize your constituents into segments. Avoid the “one size fits all” mentality. Decide who you want to call and craft personal messages to reach the individuals in each segment. Ideas on ways you can segment your constituents include:

  • Last year’s donors
  • Recent event attendees
  • By affilation to your organization

Whatever the criteria, be sure you clearly define your messaging to that group of constituents. Personalize your approach and use LGL’s appeal functionality to create, manage, and track the responses of your constituents by segment. (Be sure to take advantage of printing your phonathon call sheets, which can easily be exported from your LGL database.)

Step 2. Easily capture the results of the call using LGL Forms
With LGL Forms, it’s a snap to design a form to capture the results of your phonathon calls. When you make the online form available to your callers, they can easily complete the form during the call, saving you tons of time.

 Step 3. Sync your form to your database

Here’s the greatest time-saving feature of all: LGL Forms allows for easy mapping of all the fields in your calling form to your database for automatic updates. The end result? You no longer have to manually enter all those call sheets, and you have more time to focus on what matters most, your constituents!

Little Green Light can help you more easily handle the many facets of your development efforts, from constituent information and giving history to powerful tools that help you manage those relationships more effectively. For more information, visit us at

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