We live in uncertain times and nonprofits will become more important than ever as we continue to support the most vulnerable. 

Innovation will be the key to dealing with the current crisis. It will also help to equip our organisations with the agility, flexibility and resilience we’ll all need to overcome the challenges that await. 

With F2F fundraising suspended, nonprofits have been forced to pivot, and fast. Telefundraising is the logical solution. However, telefundraisers also experience challenges. Here are three big innovations I believe we need to embrace in order to be a solid port in the storm for nonprofits.

Go virtual

In the wake of the pandemic we saw businesses send employees home and race to implement remote working solutions. I can tell you from experience that managing a truly virtual workforce isn’t easy. It’s not just a question of providing the right technology to your employees. Operating a successful virtual workforce requires a complete mind shift.

I launched OURTEL almost a decade ago on a completely virtual workforce model. While the benefits of this model underpin our success, managing remote workers requires a different approach to traditional in-office management. 

You must commit to communicating openly with real-time chat and regular video conferences. And without direct physical supervision, you may need to work harder to build trust. To do that, clearly communicate the team goals and express exactly what you expect each team member to deliver in a set period. 

This, of course, requires the right software platforms. But you’ll also need to pay attention to the human side. In the rush to remote work during the current pandemic, we have seen many employees struggle with feelings of social isolation. 

Your work-from-home employees need to understand they are still part of a team and still need to collaborate to get the job done. Don’t just focus on individual performance. Make time for daily social catchups (my team comes together for a virtual coffee meeting each morning), share progress updates in daily team video conferences and celebrate with your team when goals are achieved.

Drive personalisation 

Today’s consumer expects personalisation in their communications and nonprofits are not exempt. Telefundraising can be a key tool that helps nonprofits get to know their donors better and drive more personalised campaigns. 

The first step is relationship building. Running a thank you campaign can be an effective way to collect data about your current donor community. 

At OURTEL, we’ve run several successful thank you campaigns that do not include any request for money. We simply thank the donor for their support, invite them to share their story of connection with the charity and give them space to ask questions or share their frustrations. 

All our tele-agents note donor feedback given during these calls, and this information is fed back to the charity. Insights gathered can help to drive personalisation through better donor segmentation in future campaigns. For example, a thank you call gives us an opportunity to reveal individual donor preferences, such as how and when they prefer to be contacted, and whether they prefer single gift giving based on specific campaigns or are open to giving ongoing monthly donations.

Embrace gamification

We are using gamification techniques to boost our employee engagement. This is particularly important in a virtual workforce environment where personal distractions and a lack of motivation can be challenges for virtual managers. 

Gamification seeks to turn existing work processes into a game-based interface. As an example, a gamification platform might display each user’s KPIs or training goals, and provide a point-scoring mechanism for hitting specified targets. You could give all team members access to a virtual leaderboard to boost competition and recognise high performance, or choose to keep your employees’ scores private as part of an incentives program where players can cash points in for rewards. 

There is no single magic bullet that will future-proof your nonprofit. Rather, you will
need to commit to embracing new solutions in uncertain times.  

Ruth MacKay is the Managing Director of OURTEL Fundraising Solutions. Her first book, The 21st Century Workforce, is available now.