Political fundraising calls, or “Call time”, is the number one way candidates raise money — and now you can leverage technology to supercharge your efforts. The goal is to get you off the phone with donors more quickly, so you can spend more time at the doors with voters.
What is “Call Time”?
Call time is used to describe the time on a candidate’s schedule designated for individual fundraising.
As the name suggests, it is most commonly involves you, the candidate, placing calls to individual prospective donors, and soliciting their support for the campaign.
However, increasingly, call time is actually a blend of political fundraising calls, emails, and texts. But even as the mediums evolve, the constant of call time is that it is an individual form of fundraising. Unlike your blast email or other digital fundraising programs, for example, call time is about making that one-on-one ask.
This is why it’s usually used to raise medium and large-dollar donations, and is the number one source of funds for the vast majority of campaigns.
Step 0: Setting Goals & Excavating Your Network
Before you ever start dialing, one of the most important things you can do is set goals for your call time program that are integrated into your broader fundraising plans, and the overall financial needs of your campaign.
After sketching out a budget, you’ll need to decide how much time you’ll realistically need to dedicate to call time. As a very general rule, you should anticipate needing to raise at least 75 percent of your budget through call time. You can read more about that, including a look at some sample goal-setting here.
Another critical piece of groundwork is the excavation of your current network to figure out who you should reach out to. This is often referred to as “rolodexing”. This involves gathering all your contacts, and estimating their capacity to give so that you can prioritize your time wisely.
New technology, now lets you do this almost instantaneously by pulling your contacts together, researching them for you, and then using artificial intelligence to give you a “likely donor” score and recommended ask amount for each of your contacts. Doing this work up front is key to the success of your fundraising program, especially for building early traction — and technology now can help you do it faster and better.
Before Call Time: Preparing
Be sure to explicitly put call time on your schedule. Then, for each scheduled call time session, take these steps to significantly improve your political fundraising calls:
- Cut a list. Calling from your full database can be overwhelming and messy. Instead, pull a list to call through each day. When making your list, consider: Who is a top priority? Who haven’t you reached lately? Is it time to re-solicit? Is there anyone you need to follow up with?
- Prepare contextual info. Calls run more smoothly when you have key information about your prospect handy. Helpful information can include: past interactions, giving history, biographical info.
- Test numbers and schedule political fundraising calls. A great volunteer activity is calling your list ahead of time to ensure they are good numbers, and finding alternatives if they’re not. If the volunteer gets the prospective donor on the phone, he/she can also schedule a call!
During Call Time: Making Calls
Whenever possible, schedule someone to support you during call time.
- Keep notes on conversations to help with future outreach. You’ll appreciate these notes every time you come back to that prospect.
- Log the outcomes of calls in a consistent, actionable way. Did they pledge to give? Was there no answer? Did they agree to attend a fundraiser? Did they want more information? The outcomes of calls will determine the appropriate follow up, so it’s important to have it all recorded in a way you can easily search and act on.
- Minimize transition times. Great prep helps here — the goal is to move as quickly from one prospect to the next, having whatever information you need at-a-glance, so you’re ready to reach out without much delay.
- Be ready to take money! There’s no time like the present, and you’ll save time on follow-up if someone is ready to pay by credit card over the phone.
Especially if you’re calling without staffing, consider using a call time management software that can help quickly log outcomes, capture notes, and provide easy-to-read dashboard-views of each of your contacts. The more you can do directly on the platform (i.e., place calls, send emails/texts, etc.) the better– then you don’t have to worry about logging, because it’s done automatically.
After Call Time: Following Up
Effective follow up is likely the most important part of any call time program, as nearly everyone you reach out to will require more than one “touch” before you secure their donations.
This is also where many drop the ball.
That’s because you are doing something challenging: managing hundreds and thousands of individual relationships, where each person is at a different place in the process of converting them from a prospect to a donor.
Again, smart technology choices can provide a major assist here, with tools that automate follow-ups based on outcome, remind you when it’s time to get back in touch with someone, etc. But no matter how you’re managing your follow up, there are a couple of important things to keep in mind:
- Don’t let money slip through the cracks. Follow up with pledges ASAP, so they can be fulfilled quickly.
- Don’t let people slip through the cracks. Have a system for returning to people who ask you to call back, or that you are having trouble reaching at first.
- Don’t stop at political fundraising calls! Try following up with emails, texts, and other means, where appropriate.
Tracking, Adjusting, & Optimizing Political Fundraising Calls
It won’t be long before you will have amassed a treasure trove of data related to your call time program. Use it to your advantage!
Track your performance. Keep tabs on key metrics, like average calls per hour, and average dollars raised per call.
Adjust your plan. Use that performance data to monitor progress towards your fundraising goal, and to update it as needed.
Optimize your approach. Look out for trends in your data that can help you make smarter choices about who to reach, when to reach them, and how to reach them.
Test different approaches to everything from asks to follow-up strategies, to the time of day you make your calls — keep track of what works best, and do more of it! Here, especially, you might benefit from call time software utilizing artificial intelligence to detect these patterns and insights, so you can act on them to maximize your call time.
The more focused you are on building and running a smart call time program, the more successful you will be — you’ll have more resources to communicate your vision to voters, but- more importantly- you’ll have more time to spend with voters.
If you want to learn more about how to raise money for your campaign, take NDTC’s course on Raising Money HERE.