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Case Studies


Since 2008, HCB has conducted hundred’s of telephone fundraising programs, continually tested new strategies and raised ten’s of millions of dollars. Check out some of our success stories below.

Case Study #1: Hospital/Healthcare Foundation

Client Background:

HCB Communications began working with the client, in 2015, after they decided to begin using tele-fundraising for the first time in many years. The client was experiencing stagnation in their monthly donor file and a growing number of lapsed and inactive supporters that they wanted to try and re-engage. Sensitive to ensuring long lasting supporter relationships and positive donor contacts, the client needed to ensure that their tele-fundraising partner delivered high level phone calls with a respectful approach when speaking with donors. In addition, the client had a number of strong direct mail campaigns and wanted to ensure that a telephone program would help build additional revenues without affecting the success of other direct response appeals.

Recommended Approach and Program Development:

After being selected as the preferred tele-fundraising partner, HCB Communications recommended branding this calling program as “Thank You Calling”.  HCB Communications suggested implementing a tele-fundraising program with a strong focus on thanking current and former supporters in addition to making a financial ask. As the phone was a new channel of communication for the foundation and donors were not accustomed to receive phone calls, this approach was designed to help build donor relations and in doing so helped increase response rates without having to be more aggressive in the ask strategy.

HCB Communications also recommended that many of the calling programs take place two times each year to take advantage of certain time sensitive donor segments and to compliment an existing and successful DM schedule. These smaller and more targeted programs not only helped with improved contact rates and list penetration, in the better performing segments by 10%, but these programs complimented the success of the DM activities.

Result Highlights:

HCB Communications has been working with the client for the past 6 fiscal years and has delivered consistent results that are routinely above industry benchmarks

When starting this tele-fundraising program for the Foundation, there was some concern with the board of directors that this form of fundraising could create some negative donor feedback. After 6 years of calling and over 50,000 completed phone calls there has not been any negative donor feedback to jeopardize these programs.

HCB Communications is now working with the client to test the call timing for a monthly conversion ask, by phone, at various intervals after a direct mail appeal with a monthly ask. With its boutique tele-fundraising approach, HCB Communications is able to create small test groups that are called at different intervals to find the optimal call time for certain donor segments. Using a carefully timed call schedule HCB Communications has seen an increase in monthly conversion rates of up to 15%.

Case Study #2: St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation

Client Background:

St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation had never used telefundraising as a part of annual fundraising activities. St. Michael’s Hospital had a large number of newly lapsed supporters who were not responding to direct mail appeals and they had a large pool of monthly supporters who had never been contacted. In addition, some board members were hesitant to use telefundraising as they perceived that it may result in negative donor feedback

Recommended Approach and Program Development:

HCB Communications recommended that St. Michaels Hospital Foundation test telefundraising in a trial program and once the results of this program were proven, and the board was satisfied that this method of donor contact would not result in negative donor feedback, they could look at investing in a larger, multistage, telefundraising program, to take advantage of donor segments who are time sensitive to certain asks.

In addition, St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation had invested in the scoring or their supporter base by Environics. HCB Communications worked with St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation to create variables within caller guidelines to reflect the different types of donors groups and social values. It was also important to ensure that this variable language was similar to the ones that were used in the DM appeals to ensure consistent messaging.

Result Highlights:

Monthly Upgrade results at over 27%

Lapsed & Inactive OTG re-activation holiday appeal that achieved NET positive revenue while even including supporters who had not given in up to 4 years

When social values were incorporated into caller guidelines, monthly conversion response rate increased by almost 1% and average gifts were up by 50% over a control group

Not one negative complaint received by the foundation

More than doubled projected revenue targets

Telefundraising budget doubled for 2012/2013 FY

Case Study #2: Conservation Charity

Client Background:

HCB Communications began working with the client in 2017 when they decided to use tele-fundraising after 5 years of no investment in this channel. The client, a conservation-based foundation with headquarters in Ottawa, Ontario, was experiencing a steady decline in their monthly donor and current donor file. With the cost of acquiring new donors being very expensive, the client looked to the telephone and HCB Communications to help reduce donor attrition and re-activate lapsed supporters at a lesser cost than acquiring new supporters.

Recommended Approach and Program Development:

After speaking with the client and looking at their current and lapsed donor base HCB Communications made the following recommendations:

1. Develop a rolling monthly program to re-active lapsed monthly supporters – as soon as they lapsed

2. Develop a rolling monthly program to convert new-to-file donors to monthly supporters 2 months after their first gift – when they are statistically most likely to convert

3. Develop a rolling monthly upgrade program to upgrade current monthly supporters at their 10 month anniversary of becoming a monthly supporter or their last monthly upgrade.

3. Initiate a large OTG re-activation program around the holiday season to bring back donors as lapsed as 8 years

Result Highlights:

  • 15% response rate on OTG re-activation programs around a holiday appeal. NET cost to re-activate a lapsed supporter 50% less than historical direct mail acquisition programs.
  • Increased the monthly lapsed, declined and expired credit card re-activation rate from 20%, using only the mail, to 45% with a rolling monthly phone program.
  • Created a successful rolling monthly conversion program with consistent monthly response rates of 5%. This rolling monthly program has helped the client’s monthly donor file grow by, an average, of 15% each year.
  • Monthly rolling sustainer conversion programs produce a NET cost to convert a monthly donor 38% less than previous efforts – where all donors were placed in 2 campaigns throughout the year

Case Study #3: International Aid Charity

Client Background:

The charity was experiencing attrition in their monthly donor file and wanted to not only stop the attrition but also grow the file. While the charity had previously used the phone to convert monthly donors, previous campaigns saw very low monthly conversion rates. The charity was also facing challenges with their on-line leads. While they were generating a number of leads, very few became donors. Lastly, the charity had a number of strong direct mail campaigns and wanted to ensure that a telephone program would help grow their monthly file without affecting the success of other direct response appeals.

Recommended Approach and Program Development:

After being selected as the preferred tele-fundraising partner, HCB Communications made the following recommendations:

Create rolling monthly new donor monthly conversion programs. With a robust direct mail program and strong on-line presence, the charity had a steady stream of new OTG donors all through the year. With rolling monthly programs all new donors would have an opportunity to receive a monthly conversion ask before receiving any future single gift appeals, without reducing the frequency of the direct mail program

Create rolling monthly lapsed door re-activation programs that always targeted hard cancelled monthly donors who had been lapsed for 9 months

Initiate 2 additional stand-alone monthly calling programs in the FY that re-attempted donors not reached in the rolling programs as well as include a segment of current loyal donors and select these donors using RFM segmentation and predictive model scoring

While the clients on-line lead generation program was generating a number of leads, there was very little conversion on the file. HCB Communications suggested making sure new leads were motivated to provide their phone numbers as they signed up and that a monthly ask phone call was made to each new on-line lead, with the first 48 hours of signing up

Result Highlights:

New Donor monthly rolling monthly conversion programs consistently saw monthly response rates of =>5.0% and a NET cost to acquire under $50

Lapsed monthly donors, targeted at the 9-month mark since lapsing, had a renewal rate 35% higher than lapsed monthly donors who had been lapsed for 12-23 months

Using a combination of rolling monthly and 2 additional stand-alone phone programs, contact rates for new donors increased by 28%

The monthly donor conversion rates for loyal and current donors, who received high monthly giving scores in the modeling, had a monthly response rate of over two (2) times that of this client’s previous conversion campaigns

While encouraging on-line leads to provide a phone number increased the cost per lead, asking for it, and initiating a first call attempt =< 48 hours after being created, saw the total files lead to gift conversion rate increase by 41%

Over a 3-year period, the client has seen their number of active monthly donors increase by almost 50%