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Phone Etiquette - Class or “Bad Attitude”?


hope that the person who answers the phone at your nonprofit has been trained. Too often, it’s been my experience that the least trained employee at a nonprofit organization is the person who answers the phone.

How about at your place? You need to know if they’re answering the phone with a “Why are you bothering me?” attitude or with class and professionalism.

Taking that question one step further, does the person understand the value of an incoming call?

I ask because in the last couple of weeks I’ve been calling a nonprofit religious organization that you would think would know better.

Ron: “ Hi, this is Ron Rescigno from Rescigno’s Fundraising Consusltants, is Joe Schmo there?”

Phone person: Nothing, unless you count dead silence as something. The next thing I hear is the person’s extension ringing. Not a “I’ll see if he’s in” or “Let me dial that extension for you.” Nothing.

Maybe I’m sensitive, but that’s not the kind of response that brings me closer to any company.

Have you ever stopped to consider that you’re placing one of the most important parts of your business, the part about offering great donor service, in the hands of someone who either hasn’t been trained properly or doesn’t care about doing a good job? Maybe, it might even be time for re-training.

And if it’s a prospect needing to have a question answered about donating? I’m sure you see where I’m going here.


  • Give the person(s) a script that must be followed so that each and every inbound call is considered a potential gold mine.

  • Think like your donor. How would you expect to be treated?

  • How would a donor want and expect their phone call to be answered?

Finally, teach the importance of writing down names and phone numbers without any errors. One missed call could be a missed opportunity for a million dollar client.

You just never know, do you?

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