Relationships-Call Time Can’t be Successful Without Them

Even in the best of times, the phrase “Call Time” causes many candidates and staff to cringe. I understand the aversion to making calls for money, whether or not you know the person. It can be intimidating, exhausting and uncomfortable, for those making the calls and sometimes even for those getting them.

However, we have so much work to do, to protect public health; fight for civil and social justice and racial and gender equity; and save our environment (to name a few). And with more than sixty percent of a finance plan typically coming from Call Time, a successful Call Time program is critical to getting the contributions and the support Democratic candidates need to effect change in those areas.


The 3-part Call Time Script…actually, I mean 4

Traditionally, an effective fundraising call has three key parts:


  1. Why you need the contribution
  2. When you need the contribution
  3. How much do you need


However for for a call to be successful, a connection must first develop between the caller and the person they’re speaking to. Too many calls jump right into the details instead of starting with open, friendly dialogue and learning what’s important to the person on the other end (and vice versa).


Here are some ideas for successful connection-building during contribution calls:


Ask how they’re doing. These days, when I ask people I don’t know or don’t know well how things are going, it starts something like “How are you?” I’m well, although I’ve never washed so many dishes (or done so many loads of laundry) in my life!” This begins a conversation many can relate to during our current pandemic. Maybe for you, it’s home schooling or all your Instacart online shopping. Whatever you say, be genuine without being overly personal. And remember, it’s highly likely, given our circumstances, the person you’re talking to is feeling some stress; you may be as well. Take the time to empathize, while listening and not interrupting.


Share a “secret” or two. Making a connection requires those making the calls to be a little vulnerable. There’s no need to reveal deep, dark secrets, just a nugget that provides insight into who you are. Maybe you have a personal connection to the opioid crisis or gun violence or intimate knowledge of the effect of institutional racism on neighborhoods.


Include your Why. Those who know me know Simon Sinek is one of my favorite leadership gurus. (If you’ve never watched his Ted Talk, it’s worth the 20 minutes.). You’ll connect better with the person you’re calling when they know your Why, e.g. the reason behind what you’re doing, like:  “I watched my parents struggle to feed a family of four. I’m running to help ensure everyone has a job that allows them to feed and house their family.”


A sample relationship-building Call Time Script:


Instead of saying “hi I’m Candidate X and I’m running for {insert elected position}. I wanted to introduce myself and earn your support,”  try something more along the lines of:


“Hi I’m Sandy Smith. How are you doing today?


“I’m a mom who’s lived in our neighborhood for 5 years. I’m also a community activist and I’m running for {insert office}. Watching my best friend suffer from cancer, I saw firsthand the gaps in her care. What I saw made me realize we need to work harder to improve our healthcare system. For far too long we’ve ignored XYZ and I want to work for change in that area, so people like her won’t suffer like that again. My opponent has opposed this issue that I care deeply about, and I realized rather than sit around complaining, I had to do something.”


Once you’ve made a connection by asking, listening, waiting, empathizing and discussing your Why, it’s easier to follow through with asking for a contribution, for example:  “I’m getting ready to do XYZ and I need to raise $XXXX, can I count on you to contribute $250 to my campaign before the end of the week?”


Your next steps


With no way around the dreaded Call Time, adding the crucial relationship-building component can change things for the better. It creates an authentic connection that allows those receiving the call to understand how the effects of running for office and making campaign contributions go far beyond the person running and the person donating.


It’s easier to ask for financial support when the individual feels they’re part of something bigger and their contribution will have a direct impact, like allowing the campaign to print and mail 500 flyers by a specific date.


Developing the right Call Time Script to meet the needs of your campaign and your constituency can be tough. Let’s talk. This is an area where we can help, through our virtual Call Time Script training and Call Time staffing.