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Jon Sutton

Executive Director, Empowering Students

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How do I get organizations to respond to me?

For the organization I run, we go out and solicit information from people. We will call or email organization X, Y and Z and ask them to answer a few questions for us so we can put their information up on our website. The goal one we do that is we promote our website to students so that they, the students, can find an organization to volunteer at outside of the Red Cross or United Way.

My problem is: we have the hardest time getting organizations to respond to us. When we email, the response rate is low. When we call, we sometimes get shut down (even though we mention the service is free) or they simply are not interested or, most often, they don't follow through and never get us the information.

Perhaps it's because we have had little measurable success? How can we get these organizations to answer a simple nine question survey so that we can help them get volunteers?!

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    Apr 18 2012: Research the organisations to find the right people to contact. If you're talking to the wrong person, you're asking them to do something for you rather than offering them a benefit. If your email doesn't get a response, try following up with a phone call. Go and meet them to get to know people and find out what the organisation is looking for. Face to face opportunities may be more effective with organisations run by volunteers whose interest is action rather than admin.

    I've been told by sales people that, at every step in the sales funnel, a one in ten success rate is good for a cold contact exercise. In your context, maybe one in ten people keep your email rather than delete it. One in ten of those get round to reading it. One in ten of those might actually reply. So it might take a thousand emails to get a single reply, less if you are bulk mailing and your mails are being removed by spam filters.

    Rather than target lots of organisations you might find it better to do a lot with a small number of organisations that value you, and who will be happy to be used as examples in your pitch to other organisations.
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      Apr 18 2012: A great answer - much appreciated.

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