Dear Nonprofiteer, It’s all very well to say “call your donors,” but . . .

Do you have any advice on getting phone numbers for donors not connected to board/staff/etc?

We’re finding it increasingly challenging, and people are understandably protective of personal info.

Signed, Waiting By The Phone

Dear Waiting:

I don’t, actually, though I’m a big user of WhitePages.com, where lots of people “protective of personal info” will find to their surprise that they’ve been listed.  It’s worth checking, at least, because it’s much more comprehensive than the old phone book.  You do risk having people say, “How did you get this number?” though relatively few will want to yell at you for saying thank you, and it doesn’t hurt to say, “Your number is published on WhitePages.com so we thought it was public information; if you’d rather it weren’t you might contact the site.”

Another thing: make sure your staff carefully examines the front of any check you receive (does anyone still send checks instead of credit card numbers?).  It’s pretty standard to have phone numbers there, and that’s your first, last and only chance to copy down information you’ll need later.

Finally, modify your donor contribution card to ask for a phone number.  Some people will refuse to complete the card, but many will fill it in just out of habit and then you’ve got them.

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