Call Time Guide
Table of Contents
Call time preparation
Call time dictionary
Determining the ask
In the call time room
What the call time room should look like
Length of call
When the candidate is on the phone
Taking contributions on the phone
Call time structure
Tips to keep the candidate happy
Call time follow up
1. Call Time
Call time will be your largest and most consistent funding source. While not a fun activity, well planned call time can be painless. You should make a minimum of 20 calls an hour in two hour sessions with a half hour break in between sessions. Having a staffer in the call time room ensures that you stay on task and that pledges are collected over the phone immediately via credit card.
i. Call Time Dictionary
Resolicits- a call to someone who is a past donor. Everyone who has given more than $100 should be called four weeks later and asked to match, or double if they have the capacity, their last gift.
Pledge- Someone who promised a contribution but has yet to give. You need to hound these people.
Cold call- someone you have not spoken to or have a personal relationship with. These are harder calls, but pay off in the end. Generally, for local races you will not do cold calls, these are more for city, state or federal elections But, if you have a small network, make cold calls to fill fundraising gaps.
Prospect- someone you have spoken to, either on the phone or in person, but has yet to give.
ii. Organizing calls
The general structure of call time should be 20% resolicits, 10% pledge chasing, 40% cold calls, and 30% prospects. You should about 30 calls/hour of call time each day prepared to ensure that you do not run out of calls.
The exact call sheet template you use is up to you, but you will need one that includes their full name, city, state, zip, employer, occupation, email, past calls, and notes. If you do not have NGP, a spreadsheet or Google Doc works, but make sure that you have plenty of space to write detailed notes and all their information should they contribute.
Iii. Determining the ask
The best and most accurate way to determine the size of the donation the candidate should ask a donor for is by looking at their past donor history. If they are a prolific donor with a history of giving $1,000 to state house candidates, ask for $1,000. This is an art that you will become much more comfortable with over time. If they are a personal friend of the candidate who does not have a history of giving politically, look at their occupation to determine the ask. Occupation is the next best way to identify capacity. A doctor or lawyer should be asked to give in the $1,000 range, a close, wealthy friend can be asked to give the maximum amount: $5,200. A good rule is to ask high, but not more than they have ever given to a similar candidate. I have included a few examples below:
A few more general rules. Everyone and their mother gave Obama and Jon Ossoff a ton of money, way more than they ever give anyone else, so it can generally be disregarded as an outlier if it is way more than they generally give. Same goes for PACs, Senate, and Congressional candidates when compared to state races.
Donor C is a great example of someone who has only given to one candidate who is probably a personal friend, it is not a good call.
B. In the call time room
I. What the call time room should look like: The secret to call time is staying on task. For some people, this just means being in the room. The key is no distractions. You should have a headset, phone, and stack of paper callsheets, or a spreadsheet if you are not using NGP. I highly recommend something to keep your hands busy— coloring is the best and knitting isn’t half bad either.
The room should not have anyone but the candidate and staffer in it. I really recommend not having a computer, as this is a massive distraction. Make sure to have water and snacks.
ii. Voicemails: You can expect roughly 20% of each calls to pick up, which leaves you with 80% of your calls ending with voicemails or no answers. For cold calls, you should always leave voicemails. For prospects and resolicits, you don’t have to leave a voicemail every time, generally just once a month. For pledge chases, do not leave a voicemail. Voicemails should be very short, for example: “Hi this is <<YOUR NAME>> and I am running for <<OFFICE>>. I would love to catch you up on my race so please give me a call when you can at (xxx) xxx-xxxx.
iii. Length of call: Generally, no fundraising calls should not last for more than five minutes unless the ask is over $500 for local races, $1,000 for larger local races/some state races, $5,000 for races with large raise goals.
iv. When you are on the call: Always keep a pad of sticky notes near. Pass notes to your staffer with questions and your staffer should pass notes to you with the ask and cues of what to talk about.
While on the phone with a donor, you should be filling in their information to ActBlue or whichever contribution software you use so you can process their contribution as quickly as possible.
v. Taking a contribution over the phone: When someone agrees to give, make sure to lock them to a specific dollar amount. You should then say, “Thank you so much, I am going to pass you over to my finance director who can take that for you over the phone.” When you are taking a contribution over the phone, make sure you keep them on the line until the contribution goes through. Don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat their card number or verify their billing address.
vi. Call time structure: Breaks are the key to successful calltime. Taking ½ hour breaks every two hours will keep everyone sane.
vii.Staying sane: There will be good days when everyone is giving, there will be terrible days when no one gives. That is just the reality of it. Power through the hard days to get to the good days. If you are having a particularly terrible day, don’t be afraid to change up the list you are calling or taking a break early to pull new calls.
Always have lots of water and snacks on hand, hunger and call time do not go together well.
C. Call time follow up
Pledges: Anyone who pledges money, but refuses to give over the phone should immediately get an email with the link to give online and the address of where to send a check if they insist on sending a check. This email should be very brief and come from either the finance director or candidate’s email. I have included a sample email below.
Dear <First Name>,
Thank you for taking the time to speak to me today and for your pledge of $1,000 to my campaign for <<OFFICE>>. You can complete your pledge online here or make a check out to COMMITTEE NAME and mail it to PO BOX ADDRESS.
Your support is crucial to the success of my campaign and thank you for being a part of this movement.
If the person does not give within two days, bump the email. If they are still flaking, a staffer or you can call to collect. If it is a big contribution, offer to have someone pick up a check from them. Keep calling and emailing pledges until they give or say no. Even if this means calling twice a week.
Consideration: Especially in the beginning, you will get a good number of maybes and “I will consider its”. It is crucial that you send them a follow up email. The email should have more detailed information about the candidate, the race, and in particular the viability of the race.
Anyone who gives more than $100-$(less than the max they can give) should be called four-six weeks later and asked to give again. Resolicits are the “easy money” you can count on them and they will take up a good chunk of your call time contributions.
Each time, relook at their capacity. Maybe they gave $250 and can give $500. Maybe they gave $500 and are a personal friend and can’t afford to give at that level again so you ask $250.