By Georgia Horrocks
Confessions of a Cold Caller
When I was 17 or 18 I worked for a cold-calling company responsible for most of the big charities.
In light of our recent charity brief I thought I’d share some reflections from my time there:
- People need incentives. Despite cold-calling being a notoriously unpleasant job time flew because you had to get at least two donations or you were out. But if you got three donations you could go home immediately.
- People shy away from commitment. Again and again people expressed that they would much rather donate spontaneously. I think we can all understand why that is, but charities rely on regular donations to make future plans and long-term differences.
- Just because someone lives in Mayfair and spends £3 a day on a latte doesn’t mean that they are any more likely to part with their money than someone on benefits. Which leads me onto my next point…
- Don’t get hung up on the hang-ups – no one likes a Debbie Downer. But people hate a Debbie Downer who is calling you from an unknown number, when you’re busy, in order to squeeze every last drop of cash out from you for some starving kids in Africa you’re never going to meet.
- Believe in what you’re selling. Whatever the reason you’re not donating yourself is probably the reason someone else isn’t. So either put your money where your mouth is, or persuade them better than you’ve managed to persuade yourself.
- Story is everything. People switch off when they hear statistics; you can’t empathise with facts if they’re not told in an interesting way.
- Don’t give up on humanity. Depending on the degree of my hangover, there were times when I wanted to cry in despair of humanity. But right at the very end of the day I’d get my third donation or someone would give so generously that my faith would be restored.
- And finally, talking of faith, Karma’s a bitch. A few years on I changed my mobile number. Unbeknown to me this number used to belong to a dentist from Dewsbury so for two, long years I received a non-stop stream of calls and messages from her patients. One man persistently called me at all hours of the night, narrating the most horrific details of what sounded like the most agonising toothache.