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Nonprofit Direct Mail on Salesforce, Part 10: Telemarketing

By Dustin Pitts January 31, 2018

In this series of blogs on direct mail for nonprofits, you'll learn about how telemarketing and Salesforce for nonprofits can support your fundraising efforts.Hello and welcome back to my blog series about direct mail. Today’s topic will be telemarketing. Why include telemarketing in my direct mail series? It’s because I often see telemarketing efforts pushed out from the direct marketing team within a nonprofit. This team is responsible for ensuring that telemarketing efforts correspond with the print and digital correspondence sent out from a nonprofit. They are also usually the team who owns the fundraising database at large.

Why Telemarketing?

The number one goal of telemarketing is donor acquisition. Telemarketing can be one of the most powerful lead generation tools that you have at a nonprofit. It is a proven way to reach out to contacts who are not currently in your database – or those who are lapsed.

I am sure that you are thinking, “How could that work? I hang up on every telemarketer who calls me…” While it is true that a very high percentage of telemarketing calls do not result in a donation, some of them do. It may seem like a lot of effort to make dozens of calls for a single $25 gift. However, once you get your first donation, you are more likely to get even more from that donor through small additional asks. For example – what if, after the initial $25 gift, the donor responds to a direct mail piece that encouraged them to become recurring donor at $20 a month? That is $240 a year – well worth the initial phone call investment.

In a nutshell: telemarketing provides a great donation pipeline for many nonprofits.

How is this managed?

Acquisition programs are traditionally outsourced to telemarketing vendors. In the nonprofit space I often see vendors like MDS or Donor Services Group used. These organizations specialize in nonprofit telemarketing.

The workflow looks something like this:

Workflow for nonprofit fundraising using telemarketing

You can set up a campaign in Salesforce to track your telemarketing efforts. The responders to those campaigns will be added as campaign members and their donations will be linked to that campaign. Here are a few sample screenshots of how that may look.

Screenshot of fundraising software as an example of a telemarketing campaign

Fundraising with Salesforce for Nonprofits

You also have the option to import the individuals who were called, but did not respond, as leads or contacts in Salesforce. The decision to import these names into Salesforce will depend on your business rules.

To honor a contact’s “Do Not Call” preferences, you may be required to import them into your system. This ensures they do not get reacquired in future efforts.

I have seen some organizations choose to manage their telemarketing programs in-house. In order to make this process work efficiently, I suggest that you use some sort of call center tool. Service Cloud allows call center reps to place and manage outgoing and incoming calls directly within the platform, which make it easy to use and worth considering.

What to think about before implementing a telemarketing program

The first thing to consider when implementing a telemarketing program is cost. This process is not free. The vendors often charge a percentage of the donation as their compensation. This percentage could be quite steep. It is very important to know what those costs are up front.

The next thing to think about is time. Organizations with successful telemarketing programs often have staff dedicated to maintaining the vendor relationships and the file processes. If your organization does not have staff available for this, then proceed with caution.

Finally, it is important to think of the culture of your nonprofit. How do you think your current donors and program participants would respond to being approached via a telemarketer? I suggest creating a few sample telemarketing scripts and running those by your organization’s leadership and others with relationships to your nonprofit. See what their response is.

If you give these steps some thought, then I encourage you to proceed with your program.


I hope that this blog post was helpful. A few simple things to consider when implementing a telemarketing solution are:

    1. The #1 goal of telemarketing is to acquire new donors
    2. Telemarketing vendors are usually responsible for implementing these programs with the help of team members at your nonprofit
    3. Consider costs, time, and culture when building your nonprofit program

As always, please reach out with any questions that you may have! For more on nonprofit fundraising, read this e-book.

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