As September arrives, Annual Fund programs everywhere are gearing up for mailing and calling. Managers of phone programs are seeking advice on how best to proceed, and inevitably that includes asking about the optimal number of call attempts to make for each alum.
How many calls is too many? What’s ideal? Should it differ for LYBUNTs and SYBUNTs?
In my opinion, these are the wrong questions.
If your aim is to get someone on the phone, more calling is better. However, by “call more” I don’t mean call more people. I mean make more calls per prospect. The RIGHT prospects. Call the right people, and eventually many or most of them will pick up the phone. Call the wrong people, and you can ring them up 20, 30, 50 times and you won’t make a dent. That’s why I think there’s no reason to set a maximum number of call attempts. If you’re calling the right people, then just keep calling.
For Phonathon programs that are expensive or time-consuming (and potentially under threat of being cut), and shops with some ability to make decisions informed by data, it doesn’t make sense to apply across-the-board limits. Much better to use predictive modeling to determine who’s most likely to pick up the phone, and focus resources on those people.
Here are a number of pieces I’ve written or co-written on this topic: