My autumn student phone campaign started last week with a terrific training session, in which even the shyest of the callers seemed to be looking forward to getting on the phone and hearing alumni stories.
Since then, we’ve had our first six calling shifts and I’ve sat at my desk eagerly watching the numbers. And they’re ok, for a first week with a fairly neutral group of alumni, a team of almost entirely new callers and two supervisors doing their first campaign too.
But I’m a fidget and a worrier. My natural state as soon as an appeal starts is “OMG IT’S AWFUL AND IT’LL BE TERRIBLE AND AAAAARGHHHH.” This is partly why I spent more of my weekend than I should care to admit refreshing my emails and waiting for things to go horribly wrong.
The crazy thing is, they didn’t. Yes, I would like to have a few more over the phone gifts than we currently do at this point. Yes, our software went a bit loopy during the second and last shift of the week, but it wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle or find a workaround for. And yes, our callers were a bit nervous and anxious about picking up the phone for the first time, but they did it and nobody got yelled at.
I do wonder sometimes if other fundraisers feel the same anxiety when their direct mail lands or their first calling shift begins, or if it’s just me and my ingrained pessimism. I used to say that at least if I expected the worst all the time, I’d never be disappointed. I still think that’s true, to a certain extent. But what I’ve learned over a tough couple of years is to have faith in something turning out well.
As fundraisers we do our best to connect people with our cause. We try to show them how their gift makes a difference in the world, and when we do it well, the lovely person we’re talking to becomes a lovely donor. And then we say “thank you so much!”
But before that happens, we have to have faith. We have to believe in our cause, believe in what we write and how we train our callers, believe in the amazing impact of philanthropy, and believe that it can and will do good.
It’s difficult to remember sometimes, and it perhaps has different connotations for you depending on your background and your personal beliefs, but I do think faith is a good thing.
Even when you’re at home on a Saturday sitting on your hands in a vain effort to stop you refreshing the results just one… more… time.