Q: We rarely end up reaching people when we make our Point of Entry follow-up calls. We are considering switching to emailing guests rather than trying to reach them by phone. Do you have any thoughts on other strategies we can try to increase the number of people we talk to?
Laura in Maryland
A: We hear this concern expressed most often when guests attend what we would call a "public" Point of Entry, in contrast to a true Point of Entry, which is private, by invitation only, and hosted and filled by a short-term volunteer we call an Ambassador.
When a guest is invited to your Point of Entry by an Ambassador, they should really be invited to two things: the Point of Entry and the follow-up phone call. Be sure that all of your Ambassadors are including this in their invitations to the Point of Entry so that everyone knows what to expect. There is no substitution for a call, but there is a lot that you can do during and after the Point of Entry to increase your effectiveness in reaching people.
At the Point of Entry, be sure that the person who makes your follow-up calls is present and has a speaking role in the program. Ideally, they arrive early enough to also mingle with the guests before the program officially begins. This person should be the development director or another staff member who is also your Benevon Team Leader. Ensuring that your guests have met and connected with the person doing the follow-up is essential. Otherwise it feels like a cold call from a stranger.
Be sure the follow-up call is mentioned at least three times in the Point of Entry program. It should be referenced in the welcome and closing, which are both done by the Ambassador who is hosting that Point of Entry, and should be mentioned when the person who does the follow-up first introduces themselves.
When making the calls, be sure to get them done within two to three business days so the content of the Point of Entry is still fresh in the guests' minds. If you do not connect on the first try, leave a voicemail saying how excited you are to talk with the person and that you will be sending a follow-up email. In the email, reiterate what you shared in the message and attempt to schedule a time to talk by proposing a few options or asking what would work best for them.
If you don't hear back by phone or email within another three to five business days, you can make one more phone call. In the event that you leave a second message, indicate how pleased you would be to talk with the person but also that you will not be calling again. At that point, you would "bless and release" unless they get in touch.