The turning tide of telephone fundraising

With almost 25 years in business, at QTS, we’ve seen a lot of change in telephone fundraising. From how it is delivered, to how it is received, to how it is judged, the ebbs and flows (particularly in the last ten years ) have been quite significant. Thinking back to:

  • 2015 and the highly questionable industry practice and inappropriate tactics employed by call centres to pressure vulnerable supporters into donating more – which was highlighted in the Olive Cooke case, prompting a major fundraising review and much welcomed reform.
  • 2018 and the introduction of GDPR completely changing the way we collected and processed data, one result being that controllers and processors became much more liable, and open to fines if they fell short of GDPR standards.
  • 2020 and the Covid pandemic, with those charities using telephone fundraising discovering a huge increase in engagement from supporters who suddenly had the time and interest in engaging over the ‘phone during lockdown.

What we have seen throughout this period, which could be defined as a time when things have radically changed for the better, is that the telephone has proved itself essential when it comes to building the all-important human connection linking potential supporters, donors and volunteers to the cause.

The Olive Cooke case will never let us forget that when done badly, telephone fundraising has terrible consequences. GDPR has resulted in less cold calling, meaning supporters and donors are more receptive to phone calls – in an era dominated by text-based communication, the opportunity for a verbal conversation is actually welcomed. And the pandemic in particular, has really reinforced the valuable role of telephone fundraising.

As we move into 2024, telephone fundraising is performing more strongly than ever before. No longer is the focus on acquisition – we are seeing clients understanding the value (and ROI) of stewardship campaigns and investing far more in telephone fundraising for retention and development, with fantastic outcomes.

So it’s inevitable that we are now seeing an influx of telephone fundraising start-ups, eager to share in the success of their predecessors. Naturally, as one of the ‘original’ telephone fundraising agencies, we are keen that the high levels of professionalism and adherence to regulatory control continue to be upheld throughout the industry.

And this is, in part, the responsibility of the client. Whether you make or receive telephone fundraising calls in-house or through an agency, the responsibility for protecting the public, paying attention to the rules (and maintaining your brand and reputation) sits with you. Which means that in addition to scrutinising your agency (if you use one), you’ll need to monitor campaigns to ensure they comply with legislation, regulations, industry and ethical standards, as well as any agreed success measures and other indicators.

A reputable, professional and experienced telephone fundraising specialist like QTS will support you every step of the way, with an eye on compliancy (and campaign success) at all times. We’ll make sure all policies and procedures are in place, as well as contracts, data processing agreements and solicitation statements. We’ll talk to you about TPS, the difference between administration and marketing calls, legitimate interest and more. We’ll conduct in-depth training, call monitoring and improvement, and ensure we follow all requirements with regulatory bodies to the letter.

Because when it comes to developing relationships with your valued supporters and donors, we have no interest in cutting corners or finding quick fixes. Nor do we want to see a return to where the industry was ten years ago. That tide has turned.

Give us a call and we’d be delighted to chat to you more about how we can work with you.



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