Make your own commitment first
Though you certainly do not have to tell people how much you have contributed to the Parents Fund, you will be more persuasive if you have committed to the Fund before you contact the prospect.
Be ready to explain why you support Kenyon
Take some time to think about why you give to Kenyon and what the College means to you and your student. This personal touch will not only help in the discussion about the importance of giving in general, but will also show your enthusiasm for the cause, which will resonate with other parents.
Review your call sheets and check time zones (link to PDF of sample call sheet)
Call sheets include names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, student names, giving history and ask amount for the donor. Although we try to assign calls based on the location of the PAC volunteer, we regret that it doesn’t always work out perfectly. If you are calling a different region or state, make sure to plan for the time change. Tracking reports (link to PDF of sample tracking report) will be sent weekly, which will tell you if the donor has made a commitment in the current fiscal year. Check the tracking reports before you make your contact to make sure that you are not soliciting a donor when they have already given a gift or made a pledge. The more information you have before the contact and the better prepared you are, and the higher the likelihood of success.
Ask your student if they know the prospect’s student
Any personal touches you can make during the call the easier the conversation will go for you and for the prospect. By bringing up a connection, you may bring back fond memories, raise enthusiasm about a positive experience for the student and parent, or establish a want to help, and then the chances for a gift increase. But remember, the information provided to you in confidential. Please use discretion in all your efforts!
Remember a “NO” is never about you
You are as much of a liaison for parents to the College as you are a fundraiser for the Parents Fund. You may reach a prospect who will not give a dollar for participation. Remember, this isn’t about you. You may have reached them on a bad day, or during a difficult time, and they take it out to you. Don’t let this get you down. If they have an issue, listen, don’t argue, and offer words of support. Let them know that you will find the appropriate outlet for their concern, or direct them to the useful contacts page on the website, (website). Thank the person for their time and follow up with an e-mail or a hand-written note after some time has passed, if it feels appropriate to do so. Most importantly, shake it off and move on to the next person!
Never apologize for asking a fellow parent for support
Every student benefits from the support of the Parents Fund, even their son and/or daughter. You are not a telemarketer. Believe in the effort and smile. Parents will hear your happiness and enthusiasm through the phone, in your writing, or over Internet lines.
Be versed in restricted versus unrestricted giving
This is one of the most common misconceptions when giving to the Kenyon Parents Fund and a question you will surely have to answer in at least one conversation. The purpose of the Parents Fund is to help raise unrestricted dollars for the College’s immediate budget needs. It is likely that a parent you are contacting gives to Kenyon in other ways as well. All gifts to the College are needed and appreciated, however only unrestricted gifts count towards the Kenyon Parents Fund.
Making the Contact; FAQ’s and Veteran Caller Tips
When is the best time to call and which number should I use?
Tip: Veteran callers find the best time to reach a parent is on Saturday mornings or Sunday afternoons (e.g. 3-5 PM), though any reasonable time you are free to make a contact is fine. Don’t forget to be enthusiastic and SMILE!
Start by calling the preferred number (usually the home) listed on the call sheet, but below the prospect’s name. If you are unable to reach anyone at this number after a few attempts, try an alternative number on the call sheet or send an e-mail. Some volunteers prefer to preface the call by sending an introductory note, e-mail, or online postcard.
How do I begin the conversation?
Tip: First, introduce yourself as a PAC member and the role PAC members play as a liaison for parents to the College. Don’t forget to include that as a PAC member you are responsible for helping raise awareness and money for the Kenyon Parents Fund. Don’t try to lead them astray but also don’t forget to explain that PAC members are not just fund raisers.
Secondly, ask about their student. What parent isn’t going to want to talk about their son and/or daughter and the experiences he/she are having at Kenyon? If your child knows their child, mention the connection. If your child does not know their child, try making a different connection such as where you live, the prospect’s occupation, schools attended, a shared Kenyon experience, or most timely, whether or not they attended Family Weekend.
Now that the prospect—and I—have eased into the conversation, how do I switch to fund raising?
Tip: Once you have made your connection and eased the prospect a bit, state your intention for the call and that you act as an advocate for the Parents Fund. Start by talking about the importance of the Parents Fund and its success over the years for the College and among its peer colleges. Then, discuss why you choose to support the College this way and why it is meaningful to you.
What if there are two decision makers?
Ask to speak to them at the same time. If one is not available, try to arrange another time to contact them.
What if the prospect says that their wife or husband deals with those decisions?
Ask to speak to that person. If they aren’t available, try to arrange another time to contact them. Or, ask if when and/or where they can be reached that is most convenient for them.
Next, thank them for their support in the past, if applicable. If they have not supported before, thank them for taking the time to talk today. Reference the appeal letter they received from President Decatur, highlight the proposal that was included and MAKE THE ASK! (“We hope you will consider the proposed contribution of $___ in President Decatur's letter.”)
What do I do once the ask has been made?
If a YES; thank them for their support and reiterate ways to give (report any pledges to Annie, firstname.lastname@example.org.
If a MAYBE; discuss the various options for giving, mention the Leadership Breakfast for donors of $2,500 and up, and a possible Leadership Giving event in their city.
If a NO; emphasize participation (in 2014-2015, gifts of $250 or less accounted for $80,000 and 668 donors gave $100 or less), revisit Kenyon’s status among peer colleges, and ultimately thank them for their time.
Remind them they can give safely and securely through the website at anytime, http://gift.kenyon.edu. If they don’t feel comfortable giving online, try to get a dollar amount for their pledge or gift.
What should I do if I get an answering machine or voice mail?
Tip: Message machine strategy
If you find a call doesn’t suit the donors, or you are having a hard time reaching the prospect by phone, send an e-mail, online postcard(link to online postcard) or a hand written note—any communication is better than no communication!!
How should I follow up?
Tip: We can never say thank you enough, even if you are thanking the parent for their time. Send follow up e-mail, online postcard, or note, even if the prospect said no, didn’t specify an amount, or pledge at the level they were asked. Offer to give feedback you receive from the call, either from the prospect or observations you have made in the process, to the College. And, finally, don’t forget to follow up with the College about your conversation, no matter the outcome. The more information we have, the better prepared we can be for the next year!