So just how did they do it? Old fashioned phone calls!

The simple answer is they did so by making the most out of phone-trees: lists of contacts who you physically call and ask for donations.

Sounds too simple!

But it works.

Don’t get ignored

How often do we receive WhatsApp messages asking to donate towards a great cause, maybe every day? Even more in Ramadan! How often do we ignore them, or intend to donate later but end up forgetting?

But how often do we receive a call asking for the same thing, and better yet from someone we know? Call centres are successful because we lovely humans find it difficult to say no when talking to a real person. Research also shows we are more likely to give when asked by someone we know (which puts the onus on the one asking rather than the cause itself!)

Making phone calls fun + effective

So Pilgrim prepared a team of volunteers, who were each asked to collate a list of contacts who they will commit to calling and asking for a donation on Giving Tuesday. All the Pilgrim team had to do was ensure their volunteers made these calls. But it didn’t end there, they knew that this endeavour is fundamentally a social act, and more successful when done together, so they emphasised the importance of doing this together in groups.

Result… £7000+ donations and a top prize boost of $20k on top! These funds went a long way to support their different projects, from developing a knowledge bank on all things Hajj and Umrah, to a unique Umrah Fund taking people who have suffered hardships and great trials on the trip of a lifetime. Check out their community page here.

Team Pilgrim making calls during Giving Tuesday

So how can you take advantage of this method? There are just a few simple things to bear in mind to make your Phone-Tree fundraiser a big hit.

“Your network is your net-worth”

A popular corporate line, but essentially Phone-Trees allow you to access and leverage the network of your volunteers, the wider the network, the greater likelihood of donations. Have a diverse team ready to call family members, aunties, friends, colleagues… pretty much anyone and everyone. It’s a numbers game, the more calls you make, the more donations you’ll receive.

Size doesn’t matter

Phone-Trees are effective regardless of whether you’re a multinational NGO, or small community project. What matters is how committed your pool of volunteers or team are in making those calls. Bring these volunteers together, either the way Pilgrim did, or virtually through a WhatsApp group and keep it active, engaging and fun!

“If you don’t ask, you don’t get”

This point deserves its own paragraph. The fundraiser is as strong as the ask, whether you are fundraising for an emergency, or a community project. Your volunteers can’t afford to be shy when asking for money… after all it’s for a great cause! Most people will donate to your phone tree because you asked them, not because of the cause itself.

Research shows that people are more likely to give when someone they know asks them. So don’t be shy, make the ask personal to you, and watch the donations come through.

Follow-up game is 🔑

This is key, it’s not just about making the calls, it’s what happens after you put the phone down. The following few seconds is when the person decides to donate, or not. Therefore it’s crucial to keep an eye on the donations coming in under your campaign and follow up your call with a link and a reminder, even requesting the contact to notify you once they’ve donated. This makes it much easier to work through your list of contacts.

Sharing is caring… or is it?

Don’t fall into the trap of simply sharing your fundraiser on WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, [or insert social media platform here]… you’ll hardly grab someone’s attention and hold it enough to donate. So only share your campaign across your socials after you’ve worked through your list, or in parallel, but simply put you can’t replace a good old fashioned phone call.

Focus on the fundraisers, as opposed to the fundraising!

Build a good core team, perhaps of 10 people who commit to getting 10 donors each. We all have enough contacts in our phonebook (and even in our extended families) so make sure everyone focuses on those closest to them before reaching out to the rest.

Create a WhatsApp group for this team and use it to motivate each other with memes, gifs, jokes and updates. It’s super important to keep this group active, engaged and fun! Incentivise their performance, by offering prizes or rewards to whoever can complete their list first, or get the most donors.

So use this article to help kickstart your Phone-Tree fundraiser, and what better time to put it into action than this Ramadan? On top of that, LaunchGood is offering huge boosts to campaigns that get the most number of donors every day of Ramadan. Find out more at

Adel works with LaunchGood in the UK and is passionate about supporting charities, community projects and faith-based organisations to reach their fundraising and strategic goals.