InfoCision: The Healthy Call Center

Last week, InfoCision’s Chair of the Board, Karen Taylor shared an interesting article with us about the benefits of periodically standing up at work instead of sitting down all day.  It really got me thinking about how important it is to stay focused on healthy activities, especially when working in a role that may require being seated for long periods of time. I found a similar article in the New York Times advocating getting up and moving around throughout the workday in a number of creative capacities.

Here at InfoCision, we try to do everything we can to help our employees live a healthier lifestyle, and when we see articles like this, we feel obligated to pass the information along.  For the same reasons, we have established annual health fairs, which take place at all our call center locations throughout the months of August and September. We believe that a healthier,

Members of our Employee Benefits team working a booth at our Health Fair at our corporate headquarters in Akron, OH

engaged workforce begins with employees that are encouraged and given the tools to make good health a priority. These health fairs provide team members with access to 30 or more vendors who offer free health screenings including blood pressure, body fat, BMI, cholesterol and glucose checks; and information on health issues, health insurance and other valuable employee benefits.  The health fair we just concluded at our Akron headquarters drew more than 500 individuals in one afternoon looking to find ways to improve their health and their lives!

Does the cost pay off?

At times, when I mention the amenities that we offer our employees, I am asked “Isn’t that expensive?” The answer is yes, there is a cost, but it’s well worth it and ultimately we receive a measurable ROI from our overall wellness programs.  By providing employees with convenient and affordable access to health information and resources, we have seen our workforce respond by becoming healthier, which has kept insurance rates from rising for both the company and our employees themselves.

And beyond the business reasons, it’s really just the right thing to do for all our staff. A healthier employee is a happier employee and it is well worth the cost to make sure our employees are taken care of so they can provide the best service possible to our clients. It’s a winning formula for everyone!

Fundraising Part 4: Using information to make an informed choice as a donor

In the first three posts in our series on fundraising, we’ve covered acquisition campaigns, long-term donor value enhancement and regulatory compliance; three highly important functions that professional fundraisers provide for nonprofits.  Each of these plays a part in a nonprofit’s ability to deliver their beneficial programs and services.

Even with all the new communication channels today, tele-fundraising is among the most effective – if not THE most effective – means of fundraising available to nonprofit organizations.

Despite that fact, periodically consumers are presented with reports that will list percentages of funds raised by professional fundraisers that seem alarmingly low.  But are they really?

What reports on professional telephone fundraising campaigns DON’T tell you

Government reports from the various states often fail to provide even a minimal description of the type of campaign that was being conducted. In our first post, we discussed acquisition campaigns where fundraising is the secondary goal to identifying new donors.  A nonprofit’s donor list is its greatest asset.  But it’s an asset the organization is not able to list on their balance sheet, so the general public may not associate a fixed dollar amount to its value.  But that list represents much of the future growth potential for the organization based on the impact of future donations from its valued members.

Similarly, these reports can’t measure the value of an interaction – even one that does not result in a donation – where the person contacted receives an update on all the great things the organization is doing, which further enhances the donor’s connection to the organization.

Where can a donor go for accurate information on an organization’s fundraising spending?

Anyone who is looking to determine the overall allocation of resources which a nonprofit organization commits to its core mission, can simply take a look at the nonprofit’s Form 990 filed each year with the IRS.  This form contains information on how much money the organization spends in total on fundraising and how much goes to programs and services.  This is the report which provides a much better view of the nonprofit organization’s good stewardship of the funds entrusted to them.

I hope this series has helped to give a better understanding of how professional fundraising through direct marketing – and specifically telemarketing – actually works.  As always thank you for joining us.

 

Click here for Fundraising Part 1: How Nonprofits and Professional Fundraisers Partner to make a Difference

Click here for Fundraising Part 2: The Professional Fundraiser and Nonprofit Relationship

Click here for Fundraising Part 3: Compliance and Nonprofit Fundraising

Fundraising Part 3: Compliance and Nonprofit Fundraising

So far in the first two posts in our fundraising series, I’ve covered some different ways professional fundraisers help nonprofits to raise funds, through acquisition campaigns and by enhancing long-term donor value.  These approaches require a great deal of strategy and creativity in getting the right message to the right donor at the right time through the right channel.

However, there is another service professional fundraisers provide for nonprofits, without which all those things I listed above would not matter; I’m talking about regulatory compliance.

Regulatory compliance in the direct marketing industry is complex, but highly important

A successful long-term direct marketing strategy is built on the foundation of adherence to the myriad of laws and regulations put in place by the applicable government entities.  All of us are familiar with Do Not Call laws and the emergency of teleservices guidelines over the last ten years, but it’s much more than that.  The federal government and each individual state has very specific regulations for every kind of direct marketing campaign, including traditional mail, phone calls, email, text messaging, etc.

Nonprofit organizations focus on raising funds with the best intentions to make a tremendously positive difference for our world.  However, the fundraising campaign must be implemented in tune with federal and state regulations.  There is no room for error and regulators are not sympathetic to misunderstandings of statutory requirements.  Given the tremendous scope of regulatory issues that must be managed, staying compliant can be a daunting task for any organization.

As a marketing partner to Nonprofit organizations, InfoCision has invested millions of dollars in technology aimed at preventing compliance failures, and dedicated practitioners whose only job is to stay updated with regulatory issues and keeping our clients protected.

This can be a huge burden off the shoulders of nonprofits, and it’s yet another part of the reason that so many choose to partner with dedicated professionals to contact their donors.

Another aspect of compliance that a professional marketing partner like InfoCision should handle is the filing of information with the government agencies – and this information becomes part of reports that are public record.  In my final post in this series, I will discuss how consumers can read this information to make good decisions with their fundraising dollars and avoid confusion over what the numbers mean.

 

Click here for Fundraising Part 1: How Nonprofits and Professional Fundraisers Partner to make a Difference

Click here for Fundraising Part 2: The Professional Fundraiser and Nonprofit Relationship

Click here for Fundraising Part 4: Using Information to Make an Informed Choice as a Donor

The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing: Molding the future of the industry

Every college student has that “ah-ha” moment.  That instance where they finally understand everything their professors have been trying to teach them over the course of a semester.  In many cases it’s that moment when the student is able to look at the information they were given and think about how it could be applied in a real-world scenario.  That moment is what InfoCision founders, Gary and Karen Taylor had in mind when they helped to create The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron in 2004.

I recently made a stop at The University of Akron to meet with staff about our annual InterAction event where The Taylor Institute awards the prestigious Direct Marketer of the Year.  Classes started at the university on Monday and it was a pleasure to see all of the students buzzing around the campus, getting ready to start the semester.  Every time I visit, it seems more and more students are taking an interest in The Taylor Institute and, as a board member, I can’t express how thrilled that makes me!

The Taylor Institute focuses on e-marketing, direct response advertising, direct marketing management, multi-channel marketing, integrated marketing communications, direct mail applications and call center services using the latest in technology with a fully functional call center, video lab studio and much more.  The University of Akron College Of Business offers undergraduate and graduate degrees with concentrations in direct interactive marketing and integrated marketing communications to prepare students for the ever-changing world of marketing.

Where Theory Meets Practice

My personal favorite part of The Taylor Institute is the fact that the students get to see how they will utilize the skills they are learning after they graduate.  The professors include in the curriculum partnerships with practitioners who have current, first-hand experience in the world of interactive marketing.  Students are provided the opportunity to take what they learn in the classroom and implement it into working on real projects for real companies.

If you would like to see The Taylor Institute first hand please join us at InterAction 2012 taking place at The University of Akron on September 28 at Noon.  This year we will be honoring Mr. Thomas M. Richmond, the dynamic President of Little Tikes Worldwide with our Direct Marketer of the Year Award.  Tickets are $35 for individuals or a corporate sponsorship of $250, for a table for eight.  For more information please call Brenda Papoi at (330) 972-8228.

I’ll see you there…

Fundraising Part 2: The Professional Fundraiser and Nonprofit Relationship

Last week I shared how certain teleservices campaigns are designed as new donor acquisition campaigns where the primary purpose is to identify and engage as many new donors as possible; and raising funds is a secondary goal.  This is why some campaigns may appear to be less successful in terms of the funds generated, but are actually very successful and vital to nonprofits, allowing them to build and supplement their donor base.  This week, I’d like to talk more about why it’s important to build relationships with donors, and how professional fundraisers help to cultivate those relationships.

Professional fundraisers help build and create long-term donor value; the lifeblood of nonprofit organizations

Donors are the lifeblood for Nonprofit organizations.  They provide the necessary funding for the organization to be able to further its mission.  But the goal when reaching out to donors should not be just to ask for funds, but also to create a real connection between the donor and the organization.  A donor who becomes engaged with the organization will likely give again and again because they not only believe in the organization, but become personally involved in its mission.

Once a new donor is brought on, the real work to build that relationship begins.  In fundraising it has been proven that donors who give a second gift within 90 days of their initial gift are more likely to become sustainers to the organization.  Involving them initially in a multifaceted communication and engagement cycle is key.  Typically, new donor conversion strategies include a thank you call, welcome kit, or email to convey the organization’s appreciation for their generosity and to show how their dollars will be put to work.  Even after the receipt of a second gift donation, the Nonprofit should continue fostering the relationship through retention campaigns which keep donors informed and active by providing opportunities for involvement, such as volunteering.

What is truly most important to successful retention campaigns is the value of the customer experience.  High quality call centers are uniquely positioned to provide a wide array of services to help better manage donor relationships.  Business Intelligence, real-time analytics and reporting, variable script-on-screen, targeted call routing, online fundraising services all work together to increase the level of personalization and thus provide an exceptional donor experience.  When a donor walks away, after making a donation, feeling good about their gift and recognizing they are a critical component of the organization’s mission, they are more likely to give again the next time the organization calls, sends a letter or email request.

As with a business customer, it’s more cost effective to maintain a current donor than it is to find a new one.  However donor attrition requires constant vigilance toward replenishing your active donor base as an ongoing part of raising funds.  But you can positively impact your attrition rate by building solid relationships with donors by making every interaction with the organization a positive experience.  This is why it is so vitally important to work with a fundraising partner that is a true extension of your organization and has fundraising experts on the phones who work hard to make each and every phone call count.

The one thing I didn’t mention is how the professional fundraiser also manages the myriad of state and federal fundraising regulations.  I’ll discuss this in my next post as well as shed some light on the government reports professional fundraisers are required to submit, and how consumers can make good decisions on spending their fundraising dollars.  Be sure check back next week to read more.

Click here for Fundraising Part 1: How Nonprofits and Professional Fundraisers Partner to make a Difference

Click here for Fundraising Part 3: Compliance and Nonprofit Fundraising

Click here for Fundraising Part 4: Using Information to Make an Informed Choice as a Donor

How nonprofits and professional fundraisers partner to make a difference

I’ve been working in the call center industry for nearly 30 years.  Oftentimes when I meet someone – either socially or professionally – and tell them that what I do involves fundraising for nonprofits, I inevitably get asked questions about how it all works.  Several questions come up routinely, and after having one such conversation last week, I decided that I should use The Right Call as a forum to provide much needed information on how professional fundraising works.  Fundraising is multifaceted and over the next few weeks I hope to impart additional knowledge and answer some common questions.

Do professional fundraisers keep a percentage of the money that is raised?

One of the most common questions I get is people wondering if professional fundraisers keep a percentage of money they raise before it goes to the nonprofit organization.  The answer is generally no.  Reputable teleservices  companies like InfoCision are not actually paid in terms of the percentage of funds they raise.  InfoCision is paid per completed call based on a set rate as detailed in our contract with the nonprofit client.  The client pays InfoCision according to their fundraising budget.

Many times, folks will say they’ve read about a nonprofit organization generating just a small net gain from a specific tele-fundraising program.  Some campaigns are designed as “acquisition campaigns.”  In these campaigns, finding and engaging new donors is the primary goal.  It is common and expected for an acquisition campaign – when looked at in a nutshell – to breakeven or be only slightly profitable.  But when you look at the big picture, these acquisition campaigns identify new donors who are likely to begin a strong, life-long relationship with the nonprofit. The long-term opportunities these new relationships provide the organization are incredibly valuable.

Here’s a similar example: A national health-based nonprofit, through direct mail acquisition programs, recently was able to increase its donor base by more than ten times over a five year period.  It’s likely that when you consider the cost of creating, printing and mailing the direct mail piece, the campaign may not have generated enough funds to cover those initial costs.  But what it did do was bring in many new donors to the organization, who will give again and again over a period of time. This is what is called Long-term Donor Value. It works the same way with tele-fundraising.

Check back next week for when I will break down the importance of long-term donors for nonprofits, and how tele-fundraisers help to build and cultivate these long-lasting relationships.  I hope you have found this information helpful.

Click here for Fundraising Part 2: The Professional Fundraiser and Nonprofit Relationship

Click here for Fundraising Part 3: Compliance and Nonprofit Fundraising

Click here for Fundraising Part 4: Using Information to Make an Informed Choice as a Donor

Proclamation for our Green Call Center

As I’ve mentioned many times over this past year, InfoCision is celebrating 30 years of business in 2012 and it truly has been wonderful celebrating with all the communities and employees we have built relationships with over the years. On Tuesday we had a special guest, the honorable Mayor of Green, Richard Norton stop by and give InfoCision the prestigious honor of receiving a proclamation from the city of Green.  We have been in Green since 1987 and it was our first call center location outside the City of Akron. The community has always been extremely supportive in helping us meet our expansion needs.  In 2011 we finished a major 52,000 square foot call center expansion, which added approximately 200 jobs to the call center. We now employ over 500 people in Green!

Call Centers are all about relationships

On the drive back from Green, I began to think about how long we have been in business and all of the relationships we have cultivated over the years. The focus we have put on building relationships isn’t just something we do internally; we do it externally as well. We have things like a dedicated account staff, a well-trained IT team and experienced communicators, all of whom build relationships with our clients and their customers.

At InfoCision we take the time to meet with our clients, understand their overall goals and do whatever it takes to make sure those goals are met. We also understand that when you respect your employees and the community you work in, you are rewarded with hard work and gratitude from all parties involved. That is why I would like to take the time to thank Mayor Norton and the entire community of Green for this proclamation and more importantly, a great partnership that has truly stood the test of time.

InfoCision Celebrates 10 years in Mansfield

Corporate culture unique in telemarketing industry

Yesterday we had the honor of celebrating the 10 year anniversary of our Mansfield location. Local leaders, including the Honorable Mayor, Timothy Theaker; President of the Mansfield-Richland Area Chamber of Commerce, Kevin Nestor and even the newly crowned Miss Ohio, Elissa McCracken joined us as we celebrated this milestone and congratulated the employees who made it all possible.

It’s hard to believe we’ve been in Mansfield for 10 years, but they have been 10 years of great growth and success. I really want to take the time to thank our employees, who have been the catalyst for this success, and the community which has always been so gracious to us. Special recognition was given to 12 employees who have been at our Mansfield location since we first opened it! Their tenure, hard work and dedication is a great example of the corporate culture we strive for, where everyone is able to create a career for themselves and a come to work in an environment that provides that all important work/life balance. Not many call center companies can say they have had Communicators taking calls for 10 years. Our Mansfield location has always produced outstanding work for our clients and we hope that will continue for another 10 years.

Below you can view a short video from the event. Feel free to check it out and see how we honored our dedicated and tenured team members. Once again I would like to thank everyone that came out and our employees for making an event like this possible!

 

A little appreciation goes a long way

Food, games, music and prizes might make you think of a party or festival. But here at InfoCision, it was just another day at work.Employees at our various locations celebrate with fun, food and games

Throughout the month of June, we’ve held an employee appreciation day celebration at all of our locations with a day of fun, designed to make

employees know how much the company values their hard work and dedication.  I’ve been lucky enough to be able to attend all of these events at every one of our locations and it truly has opened my eyes to how far a little appreciation can go.

Why we tell our employees that we appreciate them

Our employees are the best in the industry, and the reason we are so successful. We want to make sure they know that the company truly appreciates all the time and effort they give.  These “fun days” are a great way for us to do that, as well as build camaraderie by allowing employees to interact in a fun, laid back setting.

I can’t explain how much I love going to events like these because I really get to show every employees at each and every one of our call centers how much their hard work is valued. Our employees work extremely hard, and it’s important to let them know we appreciate it. I’ve said it more times than I can remember, but it’s only because it’s the truth: employees that feel appreciated and valued are going to work harder and at InfoCision we try to make sure that happens!

But don’t just take my word for it; according to a case study by Kim Harrison of Cutting Edge PR, “the cost of extremely negative or ‘actively disengaged’ workers comprises about 10% of the US Gross Domestic Product annually.”  And according to Harrison, Sears recently found that “for every 5% increase in employee attitude scores, they saw a 1-3% increase in customer satisfaction and a 0.5% increase in revenue.”

These numbers can have a big impact on your bottom line, especially when the mood of your employees comes across clearly to the people on the other end of the phone.  So make a point to let your employees know that their work is appreciated, and you’ll find that some small gestures can go a long way.

 

InfoCision: Celebrating 30 Years of Quality Customer Interactions

Executives grilling hotdogs, green cupcakes, jeans and silly pictures – priceless! The month of May has been great fun here at InfoCision as we kicked-off our 30th Anniversary celebration! Beginning in1982 with only two employees, InfoCision now employs over 4,200 in three states and Canada. We have grown into one of the country’s largest and highest quality call center companies. But we couldn’t have done it without our fabulous employees and dedicated clients.

Everywhere you look, experts are talking about creating a quality customer experience.  But this is not a new revelation to InfoCision. Even though technology has advanced exponentially since 1982, dedication to creating a high-quality customer experience is still the most important piece of the marketing puzzle. By making every contact we have with our clients’ customers and donors a positive interaction that builds and reinforces brand equity, we create long-term relationships that provide the highest ROI.

And we don’t just say we do it, we’ve been doing it for 30 years, and we’ll keep doing it because it’s in our blood.

Check out our Facebook page for some of the fun (and funny) pictures from our company-wide celebrations.