Fundraising: Telemarketing

Telemarketing is the use of a professional firm or volunteers to solicit low-level donors on your behalf.

Telemarketing Basics

Telemarketing has become a dirty word in American households, but it brings results for candidates nationwide. It is important to note that the national "Do Not Call List" excludes nonprofits and political candidates. Telemarketing enables you to get more donors into your universe for re-solicitation. The return on telemarketing is anywhere from 1-10% and costs approximately 25-50% of your projected telemarketing revenue. One issue to be aware of is that telemarketing may require an up-front financial investment that is cost-prohibitive for your campaign.

Telemarketing Routes

Professional Firm

A professional firm is generally more appropriate for statewide and federal races. While much of the day-to-day aspects of telemarketing are taken out of your hands with a professional firm, you should monitor results closely to ensure that revenue is meeting expectations and costs aren't getting out of control. It is also important to make sure you work with the firm to update the scripts on a regular basis to ensure that they are on message with your campaign.


Volunteer telemarketing (phone banking) is better for local or legislative campaigns. Using volunteers will increase the time and effort needed for preparation, management, monitoring, systemizing data, and ensuring accuracy, but can be done at a significantly lower cost. Make sure to find a competent, well organized volunteer or staffer to be in charge. It is also vital to take the time to train your callers properly.

Making the Call

Include known donors from other like-minded organizations, elected officials, and/or the state party. Use these names to create your own lists for your callers, it will help to ensure accuracy if every caller is using the same list format.

Your scripts should reflect your current message and be updated frequently.

Have a clear plan in place to thank and re-solicit these donors once they have contributed.