For as long as telephones have been around, we still have things to learn about etiquette and maximizing their use. As more people gain access to electronic mail (e-mail), its importance as a communication tool grows exponentially. Because they are both relatively inexpensive and easy, it is tempting to overuse them. However, if used appropriately – with a definite purpose, sparingly, professionally – these tools can increase people’s awareness and sense of involvement, improve credibility, and strengthen relationships among a community.
There are two primary purposes behind telephone calls and e-mail
notes: to give information or to get information.
may include invitations to events and meetings or reminders such
as asking the recipient to follow-up on a task or complete and return
a survey. E-mail might be used for the same purposes and also to
announce updates on a website, to send an attached document such
as background information or a newsletter, or to inform about the
availability of new publications or reports and where to get copies.
e-mail can also be used to gather information such as a brief, simple
opinion survey to learn the degrees of support for, or opposition
to, a particular project or action. If speaking to a person, the
questions need to be yes/no or rated on a scale; open-ended questions
cannot be included. They can be included if the survey is done on
e-mail. For special events or festivals, contact potential volunteers
by telephone or e-mail to ask for their help.
can also be made for money. Telemarketing needs to be entered cautiously.
Improperly used, it can lead to resentment and animosity and lose
potential supporters. Do not use a telemarketer who simply reads
from a script; make the phone call more personal and use someone
who understands the project thoroughly and who may already have
a relationship with the potential donor. Since it is less personal,
e-mail has greater limitations in the area of fundraising. Consider
it as a first step: ask if the recipient would consent to speaking
about a gift, to set up a meeting or a phone call, or to inquire
if he or she would be willing to receive more information by mail.
Phone calls or e-mails should be followed up with a complete package
of information that includes a letter, a brochure or some other
document that thoroughly explains the project or request for funds,
and self-stamped return envelope and pledge card.
using either telephones or e-mail for communication, keep in mind
- Ask people
directly if it is okay to phone them. When conducting a phone
survey or solicitation, if people ask to be removed from your
list, do it. Many states require this by law; regardless, it damages
organizational credibility if requests are ignored.
- When collecting
information from individuals, find out if they prefer you to call
their home phone, work phone, or cell phone. On a signup sheet,
next to where people will enter their phone numbers, include a
box that they can check indicating the best number to reach them.
- Be mindful
that not everyone has access to e-mail. It is important that people
not feel they are missing out on information coming via e-mail.
Be sure to send the same information by regular mail that is sent
electronically. If possible, plan the distribution: send regular
mail a day or two before sending e-mail so that everyone receives
it at the same time.
- For people
who have e-mail at work, be sure to check if it permissible to
send information to that address. Many companies do not want employees
using e-mail for personal reasons, so they may monitor messages.
What is the
goal of the telephone call or e-mail? What will be accomplished?
How does this fit into the project’s overall public outreach plan?
If requesting information, know exactly how the data will be used.
People will want to see evidence that the time they took to complete
an opinion survey, no matter how brief, was taken into account.
2. Get your
this will be a targeted group of people with whom you want to regularly
communicate such as a task force or an advisory committee. Collect
phone numbers and e-mail addresses at public meetings and events,
on surveys, on websites, by referrals, and other outreach methods.
write down a few key points. Reading a script will result in an
unnatural conversation, but it can be helpful to know exactly what
needs to be covered. Always begin a conversation by identifying
yourself and the organization and asking if it is a convenient time
to talk. If the response is no, ask for a time when you can call
back or give your number. Speak clearly and be enthusiastic – if
you smile, it comes through in your voice. For e-mail, most importantly,
check spelling before sending! Succinctly summarize the e-mail’s
purpose in the subject line and include all relevant contact information
at the end of your message: your full name, organization, e-mail
address, and telephone number(s). Keep in mind that e-mails can
take on a life of their own: they can be forwarded, printed and
saved, and even used in a court of law.
a message on an answering machine or voice-mail box, give your name,
a succinct summary of the purpose of your call, and your phone number
repeated twice. Unless someone has specifically requested a full
explanation of why you are calling, avoid the temptation to leave
lengthy messages. For e-mail, keep in mind that not everyone checks
e-mail daily. Many mail programs have a function called "return
receipt" which will automatically notify you when your message is
opened. Also consider calling and letting the recipient know he
or she has an e-mail message from you.
Wednesday 6/05/02 2:00.00