Does telefunding sound like an old-fashioned fundraising approach to you? What if I told you that real organizations were raising 5x what they spent and seeing 100% retention on new donors through telefunding?

As I learned from Katie Boehm at KidsQuest Children’s Museum this week, staying fresh in your fundraising approach is more about the approach and strategy then it is about the channel.

In the ongoing challenge of converting a value-minded member to become a philanthropic donor, KidsQuest Children’s Museum, outside of Seattle, Washington, found that the majority of their members thought that either a) their membership was already a contribution or b) the children’s museum was not a nonprofit.

KidsQuest knew that to convert visitors and members into donors, they needed them to see KidsQuest as a mission-driven, asset to the community. To that end, KidsQuest ensures its brand, from the website, to collateral, to the way their front line staff communicates with visitors, reflects its mission and its impact on the community in every way possible.

But what better way to get that message across than to have a conversation with your members? In order to have those one on one conversations, KidsQuest started telefunding campaigns. Katie Boehm, Annual Fund and Special Events Manager at KidsQuest, admits that it sounds antiquated. The calling campaigns, however, were extremely successful. They cost the organization around $2000, and raise $10,000 or more. More than 50% of those donations are from members that have never given to the organization before. Perhaps the most impressive stat? These donors gave again the next year. In fact, literally every single one that they reached gave again the next year.

The key to the success? Training the telefunders to focus on the impact the museum has on the community and what their philanthropic contribution can help KidsQuest accomplish. Having that personal conversation allowed KidsQuest to convert value-minded members, that were focused only on benefits, into donors, that wanted to help further the mission of the organization.

Some quick tips for your own successful campaign:

  1. Train your callers well. Provide them with the messaging they need to communicate how your organization benefits the community.
  2. Put together a targeted call list. KidsQuest uses their software solution to help them identify “people who love the museum.” That could include people who have been members for years, or attend multiple programs or camps, or hosted their wedding or birthday party there.
  3. Set expectations. These phone calls are meant to educate these visitors and members about the wonderful things you do. The conversations can be expected to take an average of 7-8 minutes.
  4. Be strategic on timing. KidsQuest does their telefunding campaign towards the end of year, when individuals might be looking for end of year tax benefits, or are just in a more charitable mood.

Kudos to Katie Boehm and KidsQuest for identifying a problem and executing a strategic, creative solution!


Laura joined Blackbaud in 2013 as the Senior Product Marketing Manager for Arts & Cultural Solutions. Previously, Laura spent two years at Dell, most recently as the Lead Pricing Manager for North American Consumer Desktops. Before receiving her Master’s of Business Administration at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Laura worked for 5 years in non-profit arts. During that time, Laura worked as the Associate Director of Finance at Austin Lyric Opera and in Finance/Accounting at the Dallas Theater Center. Laura is also a proud graduate of Texas A&M, where she received her Bachelor’s of Business Administration, Magna Cum Laude and with honors.

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