How to increase lead conversions

Friday 26 October 2018

This month, David discusses the ways in which charities can aim to convert over 30% of their leads by implementing a simple yet effective follow up process.

My role as Challenges Manager at timeoutdoors is to help charities recruit more fundraisers for their challenge events - something we successfully achieve with charities of all sizes. The purpose of this blog is to share this insight with you.

The quality of leads provided by timeoutdoors is the same for all our customers regardless of size or number of challenge events. Everyone appreciates that not every lead will convert, the lead ‘quality’ tends to be influenced more by the follow-up process of the charity; charities with higher conversion rates are those with more proactive follow-up processes.

Implementing a follow-up process

The next ten points are essential to help convert your leads into sign-ups:


This is undoubtably a good place to start as there are still lots of charities who do not follow up their leads. Many leads will simply convert into sign-ups without any contact with the charity or timeoutdoors - we make it really easy for them to do this by providing online registration links and as much information as possible, however you’re in the best position to ‘sell your cause’ to leads who may need more encouragement before signing up.


I know this doesn’t sound ground breaking, but you will be surprised how many charities still don’t pick up the phone to speak with potential fundraisers. You can always get more information from a personal call - information gathered from a 10-minute conversation can be equivalent to 2-3 weeks of emailing! It's well worth reading 'Tips for a successful telephone campaign'.


Following up leads promptly can also give you an improved chance of conversion. We recommend within 24 hours for 2 reasons;

  • firstly their interest is still very recent so it’s likely when they will be most engaged
  • it’s a very competitive market, so if you don’t do it, trust me another charity will!

At timeoutdoors we have examples of people expressing interest for more than one charity, so simply being the first to make contact can improve your conversion chances.
World Cancer Research Fund aim to speak with leads the morning after they have come in helping them achieve 39% conversion rate.


In sales it’s often said that it’s not until the 8th contact that you are able to close the deal; likewise with charities and potential fundraisers. Therefore, don’t give up! Usually they have expressed interest for good reason - so find out why.


Once you have made the initial contact it doesn’t stop there. Building rapport with the individual will help them feel more connected to your charity’s cause. Every day we talk to individuals about their goals and their drivers for taking part. Understanding and listening to why they’re thinking about taking part makes them feel valued and more comfortable raising funds for any causes close to their heart – a relative or loved one. So instead of diving straight in talking about the challenge event try to find out a bit more about them to help ‘break the ice.’ They do say listening is a more powerful tool than speaking.


Getting into the detail will help you qualify the lead. Ask whether they have fundraised before and for which charity, whether they have any targets in mind or which other challenge events have they taken part in. This information will help you understand if this person is a fundraiser and whether their goals are realistic and achievable.


If you have gained consent to hold information regarding your lead, taking record from the discussion can help progress the relationship. Even subtle information such as holidays, family occasions – this may surprise your fundraiser and realise that you were listening.


Towards the end of the call confirm your next steps, then send a personalised email to summarise and provide more detail on how they can sign up. Express genuine enthusiasm - it could be a while until you get chance to speak with them next.


Ensure you support your fundraisers in their journeys - both in terms of fundraising and taking part in the challenge event, for some it might be their first ever Half Marathon. They’ll be sure to spread the word about what a wonderful charity you are to support! A great example of charity/fundraiser support is Yorkshire Cancer Research - #donorlove.


Good luck messages ahead of the event and thank you calls when they have achieved their fundraising is very important. Remember how much time that person has invested to help your charity. It's the simplest thank you's which can make the biggest impact, because a fundraiser can't care too much.

Ensuring a follow up process is in place will always give your charity the best possible chance of converting your leads. Now find out how you can improve this further..

Ten top tips for your follow up process

Ten tips you can take to improve your follow up process now and make an impact straightaway!


Struggling to reach people? The worst thing you can do is not give them a reason to call you back. Leave an inspirational voicemail and justify why they need to speak to you. This could include the VIP package you have on offer or free training programme – what can be really powerful is illustrating the effect another’s fundraising has impacted the charity.


I understand that resources can be constrained, and the follow up process is time-consuming, therefore prioritise your time towards those high-value challenge events where your ROI is greater.


Every lead will be at different stage of their decision-making process, but you are always aiming to speak with them at their most motivated. Consider reaching people at similar times to when they made their enquiry, maybe lunch hours when people have some spare time or possibly on an evening when they are not at work.


Providing details about how the fundraising can specifically impact on the charity and exactly where that money will go. This can be done during the phone call, a voice message or follow-up email. 

Smile Train measure their fundraising specifically
Smile Train set their sponsorship target based on the amount of corrective surgery they can provide per child.


Understand that external leads can sometimes be different to internal enquiries. Leads from an external platform like timeoutdoors could have initially got in touch for other reasons. This indicates the importance of listening and building a rapport – as this will help you provide the right information for that lead to convert them into a fundraiser. We generated 83 leads for The Great North Run for Bowel Cancer UK last year and they achieved a 32% conversion rate.


There is likely to be cases where you don’t reach the person at all either by phone or email so consider reaching them by other channels. Possibly connecting on social media or inviting them to a webinar, awards evening or an event, the latter could certainly work well if you have an ‘open evening’ for a big overseas challenge. Your lead has taken time to express interest – make sure you reciprocate that effort! Parkinsons UK are a great example and are very well engaged on social media.


Ensure your team is well trained to handle different types of enquiries as this will impact on conversion rates. Charities know their events best however this will only take the conversation so far; the fundraising team will need to be well versed in building relationships and closing opportunities.


Often a difficult hurdle to overcome so it’s important to qualify the lead to understand if the target is realistic. Knowledge of their network could support this, e.g. are they part of a sports club, any supportive family/friends or even a company which might match their donation, all this can help the fundraiser feel the target is more realistic. Institute of Cancer Research managed to convert a single lead into team of 14 for the London Landmarks Half Marathon. This was a team of lawyers who raised an incredible £12,000! 


Ensuring people achieve their fundraising targets for their guaranteed places in events is an important step. Most people go on to achieve and often exceed their targets but for those that don’t, charities need to make sure they have processes in place to cover this issue. While of course there is a huge element of trust, following some of the steps/tips above will also help to qualify this person. Help For Heroes have a two-step fundraising target, so if the person achieves their first target this guarantees the place, if they don’t they risk losing it - 'Fraudulent Charity Runners'.


The power of the first contact should not be underestimated, this reflects on how much you value these potential fundraisers. There is a clear and obvious distinction between an automated email one week later versus a personalised phone call expressing genuine enthusiasm. Setting the standard really high initially will influence their thoughts on signing up, driving them to go above and beyond the fundraising target. Prostate Cancer Research Centre converted 1 out of every 4 leads.


We’ve already established the importance of contact, building rapport, and qualifying the lead, it’s now about continuing to repeat this process, until they are ready to sign up and then continue the dialogue. Remember though, the worst thing you can do is spend time chasing leads that are not going anywhere! 

In summary put in the hard work now, nurturing and appreciating your fundraisers will not only you get more sign ups, you'll retain them too!

If you would like to discuss this process further or how we can help your charity recruit more fundraisers, please use the contact details below.

schedule a call connect on linkedin email david

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