When’s the best time of year to run my telephone fundraising campaign?

As we race towards the end of 2023 and make way for 2024, we’re in a reflective mood…

We’re taking this opportunity to review how the year panned out, and in so doing, answer one of those really frequently asked questions – when is the best time of year to run my telephone fundraising campaign?

So let’s have a look at the QTS schedule of work throughout the seasons, and see if we can find the answer to that all important question!

Spring – the season of conversion calling, rolling campaigns and good stewardship

This was (and always is) our busiest season without a doubt – this year we hit the ground running with multiple lead generation and conversion campaigns, including petitions, DRTV and valex giveaways.  And straight away, we saw some excellent returns converting online support and cash donations into regular giving, with sign up rates of between 8% and 15%, and an average regular gift of £5 – £8.

Rolling work was also a very popular option at this time of year, including welcome, thank you, reactivation, renewal and churn – all of which contribute significantly to supporter retention. Plus our new relationship with data intelligence company Dataro meant we could really drill down into measuring how effective those campaigns were at decreasing churn – you can read more about that here – the results are amazing!

Meanwhile, as the cost of living crisis continued, many of our clients were worrying about the impact on supporter donations.  We continued to advocate on stewardship calling to strengthen supporter relationships, which proved to be highly effective with thank you calling providing an average ROI of £3.75. This paved the way for some really big Spring upgrade campaigns, where an average ROI of £3.10 was achieved.

The final focus of this quarter was legacy marketing – and encouraging clients to get in early with their legacy campaigns to improve forecasting, donor profiling, and personalising a longer term approach to the different supporter segments. Because as we all know, legacy fundraising consistently produces the best ROI of ANY fundraising activity.

Summer – it’s all about events, DRTV and Gift Aid!

As we moved into the summer months, we were kept busy with a number of the campaigns launched in the Spring, but with the addition of event calling campaigns.  With many of the big events scheduled for this time of year, we ran campaigns to either check in with supporters, provide motivational support for their fundraising, or to thank them for their participation. This went SO WELL in 2023 –we’ve got a new blog post on this topic coming up in the New Year with all our top tips!

We also saw DRTV calling becoming even bigger, with more and more charities adding a valex element to their DRTV campaigns – so the donor makes a donation in response to a tv advert to receive an item of small value, such as a pin badge. We call the donor to take their address details to enable fulfilment of the item, and follow up with a RG ask. And it is the addition of valex which made supporters much more responsive, as well as impacting positively on conversion rates.

The other big success of the summer was Gift Aid campaigns – for those clients who really didn’t want to ask their supporters for a new financial ask, this was the perfect solution. Once again, results were fantastic – anywhere between 30% and 60% of supporters agreeing to Gift Aid and generating a really substantial sum of additional income for the charity.  Not to forget that Gift Aid calls also have a great impact on supporter retention, by as much as 6%.

And in the latter summer months, we launched our new website focussing on our three key service areas of
● Generating new donors
● Improving donor retention, and
● Progressing long term relationships with donors.

Autumn – lottery and legacy marketing come to the fore!

Autumn arrived and saw us shift gears into even more DRTV work, and a number of big lottery campaigns. Lottery proved to be another really good choice for clients who were nervous of asking for RG or upgrade donations, as time and time again we see that in times of financial hardship, supporters are happier with a feel-good, low cost contribution over the commitment of a larger monthly gift. And of course, it’s an opportunity to have loyalty rewarded with the chance of winning a cash prize! For our clients, it’s all about providing a regular and often long-term income stream, and nurturing the donor relationship by ‘giving back’.

And for those clients who initiated legacy campaigns in the Spring, the Autumn months provided the perfect opportunity to cultivate those relationships and see how supporters were progressing on their legacy journey, enabling much better targeting of future marketing communications. We recorded some great results for clients, with one reporting an outcome of 12% pledgers against a target of 5%, and 34% considerers against a target of 25%. Another client reported a whopping 50% of considerers as an outcome, and being delighted with conversations with were ‘genuine and sensitive.’

Winter – thank you, thank you, thank you!

Before we knew it we were into the Winter months – always a slightly quieter period, as you might expect, but we are not one of those agencies to rest on their laurels during this period! All of our telephone fundraisers are still available in the lead up to Christmas and are keen to work, so those clients taking advantage of campaigns in November and December really did see a good uptake. Thank you, upgrade, conversion and legacy campaigns all continued to do really well – showing that Winter in is still a fantastic time of year to be contacting your donors and members, who are more often than not feeling supportive and philanthropic, and this has been reflected in some truly worthwhile results.

And it was during this time, that we ran our 10,000th campaign! Which made us look at some of our overall stats – and we couldn’t quite believe that over the year:
– we averaged 30 campaigns a week (that’s 1560 campaigns in total this year)
– we worked with 73 different charities
– we made half a million calls a
– and we spoke to 150,000 supporters.
We also recruited 8000 RG supporters, which is pretty monumental.

So to answer that question – when’s the best time of year to run my telephone fundraising campaign? – 2023 has shown us that opportunities are there EVERY SINGLE MONTH – even those Winter months of January and December which are traditionally considered the quieter months! Take advantage of them! Effective telephone fundraising is all about consistency, curating authentic relationships with supporters, and having really worthwhile conversations.

And as always, we’re truly grateful for all the incredible relationships we enjoy with our clients, and we’re delighted to welcome so many new clients into the QTS community this year. Thank you for putting your trust in us – have a great Christmas and here’s to an equally brilliant 2024!





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