Pareto Phone

Mobile Marketing

By Keith Elliott, Nicola Long, Sean Triner

SMS could be the next big channel in fundraising, yet Australia’s networks are doing little to facilitate it. Sean Triner, Nicola Long and Keith Elliott look at how to unlock what potential there may be in SMS fundraising.

Face-to-face was definitely the last ‘big thing’ in fundraising, and while charities need to continue acquiring donors through face-to-face, where can they look for new growth and a fresh market of supporters? It could well be SMS donations, but if it is, what are SMS donations and how well placed is Australia to embrace this channel?

The most straightforward SMS donation campaigns are those advertised around emergencies or at concerts, where a number is advertised and people can SMS this number to make a donation. In the United Kingdom, this is really easy to set up – the charity just applies online for a service such as Vodafone’s ‘Just Text Giving’ program, and the charity also gets 100% of the donation.

Key in the hand of telcos

For Australian charities, there is no such off-the-shelf product. Telstra’s media team didn’t return our call, but Vodafone’s Karina Keisler, General Manager – Corporate Affairs and Public Relations, explained the company’s position on SMS giving.

“We have looked at the [UK Vodafone] program and love the concept,” she explains. “Unfortunately, we are not in a position to manage a project of this scale right now and have made a conscious decision to focus every dollar and internal action to count toward an improved customer experience.

“Our customers tell us a consistently good network experience is of most importance and this is what we are focused on delivering,” she adds. “We remain in conversation with our global peers on this initiative and we are very supportive of the concept in Australia.”

Keisler’s closing sentence leaves the Australian fundraising sector with some optimism.

How can we fundraise through SMS?

These big campaigns abroad have indeed raised money, but they only work for one-offs – like emergencies and concerts. Beyond the ‘big campaigns’, ongoing use of an SMS call-to-action to donate is not sustainable as this tactic rarely covers the cost of getting the number advertised in the first place. It is, after all, acquisition.

SMS donations alone can never scratch the surface of what face-to-face has achieved in Australia, but our British friends – who can take the credit for the explosion in face-to-face nearly 20 years ago – think they have the answer. Many charities there are advertising a premium SMS (PSMS) number, giving people a reason to donate, and then following them up with a regular giving call.

You may be thinking ‘this is not new’ and, indeed, it isn’t. Many campaigning organisations have been using a similar technique to generate leads for years. Ideas like ‘SMS this number to get your free climate change action pack’ have been used and clever online videos aimed at getting prospective donors to give mobile numbers are also around.

Converting generated leads is already proving effective in Australia, so SMS has the potential to become a great source for those campaigns if the right environment can be achieved. An Amnesty International Denmark campaign presented at last year’s International Fundraising Congress in the Netherlands showed the channel’s potential, with a 21% conversion to regular giving of responders to an SMS request.

Many hurdles ahead of SMS?

Jan Chisholm, General Manager of Fundraising at Vision Australia, believes the big hurdle is not quality of fundraisers, donors or agencies – it is getting the Australian telecommunication industry to follow the lead of British counterparts in agreeing to facilitate and pass on 100% of all PSMS donations to charity.

“The regulator doesn’t acknowledge donating by text as legitimate yet,” explains Chisholm. “I can buy a ring tone or sign-up to a chat line by SMS, but I can’t donate to charity without a special exemption – which is not easy or standardised.

“No Australian telecommunications providers yet waive gift processing charges, and the size of the donations is too limited when you do get the chance to do them,” she adds.

Australian telcos also need to work with aggregators so supporters can make a PSMS donation from any network they are subscribed to. That way, if a donor sends a PSMS to a Telstra number from a Vodafone number, the donation will pass through both parties for free.

Another potential barrier to entry is that even with a 15% conversion rate, an organisation will need to be generating 1,100 leads a month to acquire just 2,000 regular givers a year. That’s a lot of leads for many charities. While the conversion rates sound great, fundraising decision makers need to carefully monitor the cost of generating the PSMS leads as well as the cost of the calls.

“Regular giving conversion of PSMS donors needs to be looked at in the same way as any other acquisition – it is not going to make you money straight away and there is an investment needed,” explains Chisholm. “But I want to explore every channel that is convenient to the lifestyle of all potential donors. Text to donate as an acquisition source is a great idea, although the money isn’t made there – it is all in the follow-up.”

Making a financial gift is a great filter or propensity indicator of donors. The difference between someone putting their hand up to say ‘I care’ and someone actually giving a financial gift is huge – the donor is much more likely to become a monthly regular giver than the carer.

Potential in regular giving by SMS

An exciting new development in this space is the approval of regular giving by PSMS in the United Kingdom. The British regulator and local telecommunications companies are allowing regular charitable donations to be billed through a donor’s telephone account.

“This allows people to make an ongoing commitment without having to hand over their credit card details,” explains Chisholm, who is encouraged by the move. “It is all processed via the account holding telco.”

This should allow for shorter conversion calls and fewer errors when writing down details. It does, however, raise some yet-to-be-answered questions on subsequent activity, according to Pareto Phone Chief Executive Officer, Bruce Cotton.

“Of course, the fact that the regular gifts can be made through the bill sounds great, but we don’t know how it will pan out with retention, prompted upgrades and auto upgrades,” he explains. “It will be a while before the Australian regulators and telcos all end up agreeing on a system similar to that in the UK, but I hope Australian charities will ask and push to make it happen instead of waiting for the telecommunications providers to do it.”

Paul De Gregorio of UK-based agency Open Fundraising reckons SMS could be the next big thing. “SMS is breathing life back into channels that were starting to tire,” he says. “SMS is a brilliant tool for fundraisers as we all keep our mobile phones close, so when we are moved to act we can donate in seconds.

“What follows should be good fundraising and retention,” he adds. “Of course we are going to ask for a regular gift, but the really smart charities are starting to bring mobile into their retention activities too.”

So, what can fundraisers do to change the situation? Here’s some ways to take action:

  • Lobby both telecommunications companies and regulators – individually and maybe collectively through the Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising and the Fundraising Institute Australia.
  • Vodafone is a company active in both the United Kingdom and here, and appear to be proud of the service it offers in the UK. Do you know anyone high up there? What do they think? Are they even aware it is a problem?
  • A few companies who could benefit are already working behind the scenes, but most of these are from overseas. More Aussie companies and charities need to join the chorus.
  • When a board member next tells you they don’t like face-to-face, ask them to contact a telco Chief Executive Officer to express their desire for fee-free PSMS donations to be prioritised in Australia.

SMS technology that goes around Telcos

With so many challenges in replicating the UK model for SMS donations via Telcos, Pareto decided to partner with a local Australian company that specialises in SMS technology, who already work with many big commercial brands. We are now able to offer charities a viable SMS donation function that by-passes Telco’s in the set-up using some clever software. The real benefit of this software lies in its ability to be adapted to suit a charities particular marketing campaign without requiring support from Telco’s or The Telecommunications Regulator. Uses can include campaigns which follow up appeals, generate cash donations via text to call, simple low cost “hand raising/lead generation” campaigns all the way through to complex advocacy campaigns which link supporters with their local politician.

How does this work in detail

Option 1:

A charity can send a broadcast text to all current and lapsed supporters who have a mobile phone number. This broadcast SMS will have a simple key message/call to action that asks the receiver to reply E.G. “Donate now to help researchers find a cure”.

The charity could also incorporate a SMS call to action across all media channels that ask potential supporters to text “Donate now” to a specific number E.G. Billboards, Press, Radio, TV and Events.

Once an existing or new supporter texts “Donate now”, they will then receive an automated text reply from the unique “Donate now” number. This reply will ask the supporter for some further information such as name, email, postcode etc….

Optional extension:

A charity also has the ability to follow up Option 1 with an automated phone call. Once an SMS is sent by a supporter; an instant automated call back is triggered. This automated call can be tailored to the requirements of the campaign i.e. it may feature a celebrity, CEO or an advocate delivering a short recorded message followed by several options for the supporter –

a)      A survey whereby the supporter can register support based on specific questions using their keypad

b)      Leave a short recording of a supporter voicing their support which can then be sent to an MP’s email, based on the supporters postcode

c)      A secure automated payment transaction which facilitates the supporter making a donation via their Credit Card using their mobile keypad. Practically all income generated via this means goes direct to the charity less a small percentage fee for processing.

Option (C) can be included in conjunction with either option (A) or (B).

The real benefit of adapting this technology is its low cost of implementation coupled with its ability to generate engaged supporter leads for charities to convert via a Regular Giving phone conversion.

For more information on Vodafone UK’s Just Text Giving program, including how it sends nonprofits free information packs on how to leverage the free service, visit:

Sean Triner, Nicola Long and Keith Elliott Sean Triner is the Founder and Nicola Long is the Head of Client Services at Pareto Fundraising. Keith Elliott is Client Development Director at Pareto Phone.

This article was first published in issue 42 of Fundraising & Philanthropy Magazine in February 2013.

From Bangalore to Birmingham?

By Bruce Cotton

With the Australian dollar at an all-time high, fundraisers may be tempted to consider off shoring their telemarketing programmes on the promise of savings on calling costs.

Does this represent an opportunity to stretch budgets a little further or merely open up a whole new area of risk for your fundraising department?

Offshore outsourcing of telemarketing comes in many different guises and the current financial competitiveness of experienced North American and UK players will be sustainable only as long as the Aussie dollar remains high. More sustainably cheap options like the Philippines and India continue to be rejected by almost all Australian fundraisers due to the quality and fundraising experience of potential partners.

So if there’s a short term opportunity, should I be taking it? The answer to this lies in a combination of your appetite for risk and the diligence that you can put in to ensure that you are getting a quality product for your money. First and foremost in most people’s mind will be whether the financial returns can be achieved. While the cost elements of telemarketing are predictable and mostly-comparable, the income is always less certain. Different agencies provide differing levels of rigour in understanding your data and the predictability of your results, and hence accuracy of income projections is a function of the analysis of your data and the agency’s experience of running the type of campaign or programme. Whether offshoring or not, satisfying yourself that the agency has a good grasp of the likely behaviour of your supporters is critical in giving you confidence that income goals are achievable and this may be more difficult if the benchmarks being used are how similar campaigns perform in the UK or North America.

Naturally, most aspects of client satisfaction are going to stem from whether income goals are met or not and it’s when things haven’t gone right that it’s important to be clear on with whom your contractual arrangement lies and what recourse you have if there are problems. Is your agreement with the actual agency that is calling your supporters, a partner company or their commissioned local sales agent. None of these things matter when things go well but if there is a problem with fulfilling the agreement, or a serious data breach, then what recourse do you have and are you able to exercise your commercial rights over an overseas organisation? A bit extreme? Under the old adage of hope for the best but plan for the worst, and with serious legislation around data privacy and PCI, these are things that we would recommend any client to be clear on.

This is not the most exciting aspect of fundraising, but it’s equally important to be satisfied that your offshore partner is fully compliant with Australian fundraising legislation and is staying on top of the emerging changes. Only last week we saw the introduction of new legislation in South Australia, and different states have different licence requirements for charities and their telefundraising agencies that requires compliance.  In Victoria and SA the agencies themselves are required to hold their own fundraising licence and we’re not aware of any of these being issued to any offshore agencies at this time. In our experience, none of these areas are insurmountable but we would always recommend checking compliance with your own legal team or legal advisers to make sure any risks are understood, and covered in your contract.

With low-cost telephony, and the availability of teams of Australian back-packers in far-flung places of the world it is always going to be attractive for call centres to sell their dead hours and sweat their capital assets throughout the night. This helps to drive price advantages that appear enticing but it’s worth considering whether the agency has its full support teams managing your campaign in the early hours of the morning or whether you simply have a few callers with a night-shift supervisor ploughing through your valuable supporter data.

 Our experience is that the initial campaign brief is always best delivered by the client, in person, as it is this interaction which sparks the passion in the fundraiser and inspires team leaders and callers alike. With the demanding nature of outbound calling, we find that the availability of coaching, training and regular buzz sessions help to keep the calling team fired-up and supporters consequently engaged. Constant monitoring of performance is essential in identifying where callers are struggling to connect with supporters and it’s unusual to find that this support is in place 24/7 in all but the largest call centre operations.

We’ve also found that the level of operational support is essential for the client when dealing with an emergency situation like a high-level complaint or an urgent need to put a campaign on hold. It’s easy to make arrangements with your offshore partner about how WIPs and scheduled meetings can be planned at the beginning or end of days to keep client and supplier happy but it makes sense to check-out how, and who, can make things happen in the middle of the calling shift.

The key here is to be absolutely clear on what you’re getting, what you’re not getting, who are you contracting with, what’s your recourse if things go wrong, and am I compliant. Ask all the questions, check with your own legal team, check out who you’re partnering with and if you’ve got all the right answers then it might just be that the strong Aussie dollar is moving the offshore debate from Bangalore to Birmingham.

I should declare that as CEO of an Australian based specialist fundraising call centre, my natural position is not an impartial one. However, in the ongoing search to provide better services for our clients, we have recently invested effort in assessing whether Pareto should take advantage of overseas opportunities. This article is written largely as a means to share the findings of that assessment.

If you would like to discuss how Pareto Phone can help your charity achieve the best telephone fundraising possible, please contact Keith Elliott on 07 3015 4017 or

How is your Arts Union / Raffle / Lottery program going?

By Sara Mansfield

Are you fundraising for an organization that is heavily reliant on the performance and growth of a raffle, art union or lottery?

If you answered ‘yes’ – you are not alone! There are over 70 local and national organizations in Australia who use major Arts Unions lotteries and raffles to generate much needed income for their beneficiaries. That doesn’t include the many hundreds more minor ones that are run by amateur sporting clubs and other not for profit organizations.

Pareto Phone was set up to be different from other call centres – in addition to being donor centric in everything we do, we use expert data skills and practices to analyse plan and deliver the calls that we make. Last year Pareto Phone worked with more and more organizations who had challenges with their raffle programs and, after a lot of analytics and trial activity we think we‘ve made some industry-challenging discoveries.

Are you spotting cross-sell opportunities with your raffle players?

Anecdotally, our fundraising team tell us that the supporters that they speak to often believe that the only way to support the organization is via raffle – they then jump at the chance of becoming regular givers whilst still continuing to play the raffle. Recently, one of our clients recruited 557 regular givers (156 over target) and raised an additional $22,000 in cash donations from a telemarketing program to make the case for long term support to Raffle players – and they still play the raffle as well as supporting with a monthly regular gift! We now know that it is a myth that everyone who buys charity raffle tickets are only interested in the prizes.

Do you know how to target the right audience amongst your players to encourage to become regular givers or cash donors?

Several of our clients have to date employed a ‘minimal to no’ data strategy, using instead a ‘churn and burn’ approach. Our experience has led us to create other opportunities for lottery players and to use our data scoring and modeling approach to identify the likely prospects for such an ask. Not only that, but we have developed this further into a trigger strategy, run via a bespoke CRM system, which selects and develops a calling hierarchy to maximize and increase net by reducing the number of calls made whilst being as effective as possible at penetrating and generating increased income in the higher scoring groups. There are not many call centre organizations that would recommend reducing the number of calls made for a program but Pareto Phone’s ethos is that we advise strategies that are in the best interest of our clients’ beneficiaries.

How do your raffle communications compare to other communications?

We have also picked up feedback where raffle players are also individual donors to an organization but think that the raffle must be ‘run by someone else’. Whilst most organizations outsource their phone and mail raffle execution, the raffle should not be completely different in tone, feel, brand and message than other donor communications. Especially if you are looking to integrate your fundraising and cross-sell your ways to support to different audiences. Do you have the option to buy tickets via your website? Do you use a multi channel approach to retention and acquisition? Do you prospect from your raffle players for events attendees or campaigning actions to strengthen your cause?

If you would like to talk through some of these insights or get us involved in your arts union or raffle then either drop me an email, give me a call or claim 1 hour’s free consultancy at the upcoming FIA ‘Dare to be Different’ conference. Dare to be Different with your approach to Lotteries!

What makes a great telefundraiser?

By Dan O’Shea

Telefundraisers have become a vital part of any Charities program.

What makes a great telefundraiser?

Passion and expertise. But they are not skills that we are simply born with – sure, we can be given a set of directions, a script and a subject to talk about, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we know how to inspire or encourage others to donate or help us with our cause or campaigns.

5 areas that I believe make the biggest impact

  • Effective Scripting – are your fundraising conversations interactive or are they lectures? Are you using your case study to your best advantage? Is the tone and feel of the wording ‘on brand’ and conversational?
  • Effective Objection handling – you must always acknowledge your supporter’s objection before you can try to address their issue and turn it around to a “win”. Know your 5 top objections and prepare your callers with ways to overcome each of them. This is vital to give them the confidence to achieve results.
  • Emotional Intelligence and good communication – if you don’t communicate your passion and the urgency of your proposition, you cannot expect your supporters to feel inspired and compassionate.
  • Listen, listen, and listen. There is no point asking donors questions if you do not listen to their answers! This is what builds rapport and lets your supporter know that you value them as individuals. Use your active listening skills to show the supporter you are giving them your complete attention.
  • Always include Donor Care elements regardless of the outcome of the call – this is critical in developing and retaining long term supporters, even if they don’t give this time.

I love to work with calling teams to help them enjoy their conversations and elicit the best results possible so that more money can go the organisation’s beneficiaries. Here at Pareto Phone I deliver training and motivation sessions all the time as I know that the more you invest in your callers, the more skills they will develop.

If these training programs sound like something you would be interested in, we would love to hear from you. Please contact my colleague Sara on (07) 3015 4044 or via email.

Dan O’Shea Head of Call Centre, Pareto Phone

Encountering Grief

By Sara Mansfield

I promised you last time that I would tackle another aspect of speaking with bequestors and prospects via the telephone – encountering grief. Many of us fundraisers encounter grief from bereavement or from a shocking diagnosis quite frequently. Although, this advice is not just limited to talking to bequestors or the bereaved parties of the bequestors, but can hopefully help with handling any conversation of this nature. I hope that this will help you as much as it has helped me and the callers in our dedicated fundraising call centre in Brisbane.

1. Grieving is a normal healing process

It is interesting that the one thing we are certain about in this life is that it will end, yet when that happens we are never prepared. Emotionally we just don’t seem to be well equipped to deal with such a loss, we either fall apart or head straight for denial. But, in reality, falling apart or going through denial is all part of the normal process of grieving. Grief is a normal, healthy response to loss and we need to understand how to best deal with it in order to provide comfort to someone who is grieving. Regardless of the type of loss, there is a natural process of grieving. Understanding the nature of grief and bereavement gives you the insight that will enable you to help someone else cope. The more you understand about the basics of the grieving process, the more you may be able to help them:

  • It is normal and necessary to experience intense emotional sensations in order to heal properly
  • Feelings of guilt, embarrassment and anger are part of the restorative process.
  • Each person grieves differently.
  • There is no set timetable for bereavement.

As a matter of fact, loss can come in many forms. As devastating as the death of a loved one can be, any life altering experience can trigger a sense or feeling of loss that will trigger the same sense of grief and will send that person through the same stages of grief as experienced through the loss of a loved one. Other losses might include the loss of one’s health or the health of someone you care about, or the end of a relationship, such as a marriage or even friendship. Healing from a loss involves coming to terms with the loss and the meaning of the loss in your life.

The most important thing you can do when you speak to someone who is recently bereaved or diagnosed with an incurable illness, is simply just be there for them.

You might not know exactly what to say or what to do, but that’s okay. Don’t let your discomfort get in the way when you want to reach out to a person who is grieving or upset. Be willing to push past the awkwardness and be honest and straightforward. Know that you don’t have to solve their problem; simply provide a listening ear.

Many of us have no idea what to say or how to handle the situation. It is difficult to know what words you should say to comfort someone grieving. I think it is natural to feel uncomfortable and unsure in this type of situation. We have so much fear wrapped up around death or any kind of loss in our society that it is difficult to know how to handle our own emotional response much less know how to support another person who is grieving. But, here are the ways that I have identified that can help us be there for a supporter who is coping with loss.


Act Naturally – You may not feel comfortable but the more uncomfortable you let yourself be, the harder you are making it for the grieving or sick person. Let go of the discomfort and truly put yourself in the moment to listen to the caller.

Be prepared for and allow the caller to talk about their grief and how they are feeling. Try to listen without offering advice or interruption other than empathetic encouragers.

Show genuine concern if the caller seems open to it – your empathy and understanding is important to them.

Be mindful of how difficult holidays and weekends can be for the bereaved.

If you recognise that the grieving caller is very distressed and may be experiencing depression, gently ask them if they have considered bereavement counselling to help them work through their emotions.

Do say…

  • I am so sorry
  • I am so sorry for your loss
  • I don’t know how you feel and can only imagine how terrible it must be for you and you have my deepest sympathy.
  • It’s ok if you do not feel like talking right now. Just know that I am here to listen whenever you are ready. You can call again if you would like to talk
  • Talk openly and sensitively about the person who died if discussed


Use probing questions – allow the conversation to be directed by the caller and for them to share what they choose to.

Ask questions about the circumstances of the death or loss – you can ask about the person who has passed on, but not how it happened.

Don’t say…

  • “I know how you feel.” Truthfully, you don’t know how they feel – no one does – whether you have been through a loss before or not. Don’t be surprised if they turn around and say, “YOU don’t know how I feel; no one knows how bad I feel!”
  • “You should.” or “Time heals all wounds.” “Oh, it’s not that bad.” Or “You’ll be ok.” Or “Things will go back to normal before you know it.” Or “It will get better.” Grieving people know this intellectually, but in their heart, they may feel so lost and alone. Offering trite advice or quick solutions can just end up frustrating and upsetting the grieving person. Also, these statements tend to minimize the loss and could upset the grieving person and they may even feel frustrated and angry with you in particular.
  • “Don’t cry.” It is uncomfortable and painful to hear someone cry, but they need to do it – telling him or her not to cry is embarrassing for them and probably impossible and does not support the natural grieving process that needs to occur.


Having a list of accredited bereavement counsellors for referral

Having a list of accredited palliative care services, groups and information resources that you can direct people to.

Checklist for bequest calling

By Sara Mansfield

  • Do you call your supporters from time to time?
  • Are you a sole fundraiser, responsible for all levels of supporter relationships?
  • Are you a new bequest or major donor relationship manager?
  • Are you a senior manager that is required to make personal calls to bequest or major donors?

If you answered yes to any of the above, you may be interested to hear about my recent experiences on behalf of one of our clients.

I was commissioned to make highly personalised, relationship building calls to a small group of identified bequest prospects. My task was to help their extremely time-challenged sole fundraiser sift out the confirmed bequestors from the maybes and from the nos.

I had a whole lot of fun and some fantastic, inspiring conversations and I re-learnt some lessons – the most important of which was the preparation and planning that needs to take place before you make the call so that it can be as personalised and specific as possible. Being prepared really does help you to build rapport and move the relationship with your donor to the next level.

Here is my 3 part checklist for getting properly prepared:

1. Prepare to get to know your supporter

  • What is their name? How will you address them? (Most people in the older generation prefer to be greeted formally, rather than using their first name – if they feel otherwise, they will tell you.)
  • Where do they live? What is the weather like there today – are there any local nuggets of info you can use to help build rapport? Have you been there?
  • When did they start giving to you?
  • What recruitment method was used to get them on board?
  • What has motivated them to give – which appeals? Is there a specific area of your organisation’s work that inspires the supporter?
  • When did they last give?
  • How much have they given in the last 12 months?
  • Are they a volunteer, patient or committee member, as well as a donor?
  • Have they ever written to you or called, prompting there to be notes on their record?
  • Have they expressed any preferences – e.g. mail once a year, don’t mail receipts etc
  • Have they told you anything else such as via a survey that they will expect you to know when calling them?

2. Prepare yourself

  • First impressions are very important; you have (research tells us) 4 -6 seconds to make a positive impression.
  • The initial impact you make is within your control and takes conscious effort
  • You are an ambassador of your organisation
  • They will be pleased to hear from you, by and large
  • Relax and be natural
  • Smile – it truly can be heard in your voice
  • Be enthusiastic and passionate about your organisation – it is infectious
  • Remember their name and use it slightly more than feels natural but not every other sentence
  • Be positive (never say “I was just calling” or “I don’t expect you’ve had a chance to think about your bequest yet”)

3. Prepare your call

Take some time to think about what you want to say, what you want to know and how you are going to fit this into the call. Are you at the early stages of a relationship and you want to ask them to consider a bequest or are you some way down the track and would like to get them over the line to a confirmed status.

  • Always start with a big thank you for their support, time or interest
  • Recognise their past support, most recent support and be mindful if they have expressed any preferences
  • Always check if it is a convenient time to speak, if not agree a time to call back and keep to it.
  • Update supporter on how their money is helping – tell them something new that your organisation is working on or something that will have a lasting and long term benefit to the community
  • If the call is a fundraising ask, make the case for further support
  • Make the ask – clearly and confidently
  • May I ask, is leaving a gift in your will something you are still considering?
  • May I ask, have you have prepared your will yet?
  • What would you like me to do to help you with this?
  • When checking details, use phonetics to check spelling and read back to confirm accuracy with supporter.
  • Re-confirm any actions you or they will take and leave the opportunity open for another follow up call or for a visit
  • Always finish with a big thank you – regardless of the outcome of the call


Many new fundraisers or bequest officers tell me they worry about talking about death with their prospects. This is an understandable concern, but it may reassure you that in my experience I have never had a situation where talking about the possibility of a charitable bequest has upset anyone. Obviously you couch your request in context – ‘I am sure Mr Donor, that you will be taking care of your loved ones in your will, I was wondering if you would also consider including as well, with a donation that keeps on giving to the lives of others beyond your own lifetime’. I know that you all know how to be respectful – stick to your personal codes whilse recognising the responsibilities of your role, and I am sure you will get the balance right.

I would love to hear your experiences – positive and negative and I will follow up this article next time with some tips on how to deal with grief when you unexpectedly come across close bereavement when building relationships via the telephone.

Are you and your suppliers PCI DSS compliant?

By Sara Mansfield, Head of New Business Development and Marketing, Pareto Phone

Most charities would like nothing more than to be able to focus all their resources purely on what they do so well; making our world a better place.

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards are mandatory for all organisations that store, process or transmit credit card holder information. If your organisation stores credit card information then you must accept the responsibilities of being PCI compliant and ensure that your suppliers (face to face agencies, digital agencies & telephone fundraising agencies) are too.

If you do not have PCI DSS compliance or are not working towards it, you run the risk of fines being imposed by card companies such as Visa and Mastercard and in the very worst case scenario, you could lose the ability to process credit card donations.

The credit card industry has suffered massive losses from credit card fraud and have taken strong measures to protect themselves from the insecure data storage and access procedures that many of their merchants have permitted to stand. If your data is not secure and an incident occurs where there is a breach, you are expected to offer free credit protection services to those potentially affected.

Complying with PCI DSS entails following the 12 requirements set out in the standard, working with your sponsoring bank and reporting to the card brands that you do business with. The 12 requirements of the standard are:

  1.   Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data   2.   Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters   3.   Protect stored cardholder data   4.   Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks   5.   Use a regularly update anti-virus software or programs   6.   Develop and maintain secure systems and applications   7.   Restrict access to cardholder data by business need-to-know   8.   Assign a unique ID to each person with computer access   9.   Restrict physical access to cardholder data  10.  Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data  11.  Regularly test security systems and processes  12.  Maintain a policy that addresses information security for employees and contractors

Compliance means that you are doing what you can to make sure that your supporters’ payment card data is being kept safe for every transaction and that they and you can have the confidence that they are protected against the pain and cost of data breaches.

Pareto Phone is proud to announce that we have achieved PCI DSS compliance following an extremely comprehensive independent audit from Securus Global.

Despite being, as a supplier, in the category of needing self certification, we wanted to be sure that our clients have the very best from us in terms of data security and best practice. Therefore we have invested considerable time and money in achieving the standards required for the highest possible integrity.

We also adhere to the FIA best practice guidelines, the ADMA guidelines and the new ACL requirements in addition to various state requirements for registration as fundraisers. You should expect the same from any agency that you use. They are your ambassadors and as such need to ensure that they are representing your standards and commitment to supporter care and data privacy.

Bequest fundraising, pure and simple

By Christiana Stergiou

Think of the money your organisation won’t be raising in the future because, for whatever reason, you’ve put off your investment in bequest marketing for another day, another year or even another decade.

That’s the simple concept of ‘Opportunity Cost’ when applied to bequest fundraising. Imagine what those funds would help you achieve for your cause in the years ahead.

It’s time to get on with your bequest fundraising, pure and simple.

Why? Quite simply: it’s a huge source of income from individual donors across the nonprofit sector, yet too many organisations are underperforming in this major area of fundraising.

Pareto Fundraising’s benchmarking cooperative consists of 21 charities operating in Australia and New Zealand that pool together their data to gain insights into fundraising and inform their strategic decisions. Consistently, bequest income is the single largest source of income received from individuals for this group of charities.

In 2008, the 21 charities combined received almost $73.5 million dollars in bequest income, representing 27 per cent of all individual giving. By comparison, cash gifts (including appeal income) accounted for almost $65 million and regular giving (monthly gifts) accounted for just over $40 million.

Yet when you think of how much effort and investment many charities put into different areas of fundraising, bequest fundraising often comes in last, or is left out of the mix completely.

Why? Many charities want bequests, and occasionally are fortunate enough to receive unsolicited bequests, but just don’t know where to start. And many are, quite simply, scared about asking for this type of gift because they feel it is too sensitive a subject and to ask makes them feel uncomfortable.

Furthermore, those organisations that have a ‘traditional’ bequest programme – based on home visitation and/or Wills days – are not sure how to take their programme to the next level. Their traditional approach to bequest fundraising limits their potential in two main ways.

Firstly, human resources are limited: there are only so many people a bequest officer can visit in a day, week or year. Secondly, effective bequest staff are hard to find: bequest officers tend to visit older donors in their home, have cups of tea and maybe, eventually, after many visits, ask for a bequest, if they feel that the donor is receptive.

One organisation that consistently comes top of the pops when it comes to bequest fundraising is Melbourne’s The Lost Dogs’ Home. They’ve eschewed the traditional home visitation model, opting for a modern, direct marketing-based approach, while still building strong and meaningful relationships with their donors through the mail, telephone and donor tours of the Home.

Over seven per cent of active donors (those who have made a donation in the past 12 months) have said they’ve included the Home in their Will. And three per cent of all supporters, including lapsed donors have committed to a bequest. Few charities in the world could claim a more effective bequest programme.

Most nonprofits should aim high with a target of at least three per cent of active (non-face to face) donors committing to a bequest. This can be achieved through a simple three-step plan, driven predominantly by direct marketing:

1. Proactively identify leads; 2. Work hard to close the deal; and 3. Build life-long relationships.

The first step involves taking control of the leads generation process by proactively identifying bequest leads from your supporter base – identifying those who intend to bequest, or would consider that type of gift. This can be done by including a question about bequests in your supporter survey, or through a dedicated communication that directly asks donors to bequest.

However, you can’t leave it at that. You must move on to step two and actively follow up those leads and work hard to close the deal.

Immediately send your ‘leads’ a great letter about how important bequests are to your cause – including testimonials by donors who have committed to a bequest, as well as moving stories about your beneficiaries and the impact that the donor’s bequest will have on your cause. This could be the most important letter you will ever write to this donor, but far too many I’ve seen are dreadful.

Four to six weeks later, you need to follow up that letter with a very important phone call that asks the donor more about her bequest plans. This could be the most important call you ever make to a donor, yet it is a call that most organisations never make.

The key barrier to securing a bequest is inertia! If you don’t follow up the donor’s original intention or bequest enquiry, chances are that she may forget, or simply never get around to it. Through active follow-up, by mail and phone, you can work with your supporters to motivate them, moving them from intention to actually writing your organisation in their Will. You need to work hard to close that deal.

Just last month I conducted a workshop with the National Stroke Foundation who has committed to investing more in bequest marketing to secure a higher percentage of bequestors amongst its supporter base.

The Stroke Foundation understands the importance of closing the deal, and the workshop was about that initial follow-up call and focused on how to close the deal by phone.

For the many bequest officers in the room it was a revelation. Firstly, they would have proactive leads to follow (via a supporter survey they have just mailed), and secondly, they can follow up the calls by phone and know from most calls exactly where donors stand with their bequest plans. This can be complimented by an in-home visit if necessary and by events where donors can come to hear firsthand about the fine work of the Stroke Foundation.

However, it wasn’t just the bequest officers in the room that benefited. There was also staff from the donor services and phone team, including the receptionist. They all learnt how to handle a bequest call with confidence.

At the end of the workshop, all nine staff made calls to real donors (to the bequest leads that had come in over the last few months) asking them whether they were still planning to include the Stroke Foundation in their Will.

And the outcome of the calls? Two callers received the best news. The donors said, ‘Yes, I’ve done that’ – two closed deals! All other callers made equally brilliant calls where the donors were very clear that they were still planning to bequest or are still considering it, and one donor had no recollection of requesting info.

That means that from every call, the Stroke Foundation knows where those donors stand on making a bequest. Two confirmed bequests out of nine calls is terrific, and the Stroke Foundation is well on its way to increasing the number of donors who include the Stroke Foundation in their Will, which will result in more money to fund their stroke research, treatment and prevention programmes.

Oh yes, and that final step, that’s simple. Build strong relationships with your confirmed bequestors. Thank them for their special gift at every opportunity. They are amongst your most important supporters.

That’s bequest fundraising pure and simple. A three step approach. And remember, delaying your bequest fundraising will inflict an opportunity cost on your organisation: that’s money you won’t be raising for your cause in the future. So don’t delay. Invest in your bequest programme today.

About Christiana Stergiou

With her revolutionary and practical approach to bequests, Christiana has inspired hundreds of fundraisers from Australia, and across the world to think differently about the way they approach bequest fundraising. Christiana can be contacted by sending an email to

Learn more about bequest fundraising at Christiana’s Melbourne and Sydney Workshops

Christiana will be presenting a workshop in Melbourne on 18 August 2009 and Brisbane 14 October 2009 about how to develop and implement the ultimate bequest plan. She’ll also be presenting a workshop in Sydney on 20 August 2009 about how to effectively follow up your bequest leads. Click here to register now, or to find out more.