Cold calling new donor prospects may be the most nerve-wracking task on your to-do list. When reaching out to those who haven’t yet established a relationship with your organization, it’s hard not to wonder whether they’ll be receptive to the call. While picking up the phone isn’t easy, there’s no need to be scared. Here are a few tips and tricks for setting up a clear connection:

Know why you’re calling

First, think carefully about who will make each call. Prospects may not be directly affiliated with your organization, but chances are they have other community connections. Check to see if any of your board members already know the individual, advised A Small Change. After all, individuals are more likely to answer a call with a recognizable number behind it. You can use your donation management software‘s CRM tools to assign staff members to specific donor prospects, reminded Nonprofit Hub.

Prepare yourself with a reason to connect, such as a common interest. You’ve probably spent a good deal of time researching your prospects, so you should have some idea of why someone would be sympathetic to your cause. Collect a few quick notes from your business management software, and you should be well-prepared to provide a personalized reason for calling. But don’t give too much information. Long speeches are likely to prompt someone to tune out, especially if left in a voicemail. Practice before calling, the right statement is likely to keep a prospect’s attention.

Respect prospects’ time

If you worry too much about bothering a prospective donor, you’re likely to talk yourself out of the phone call altogether. Instead of assuming you’re an intrusion, remind yourself that no one’s going to answer the call if it’s truly an inconvenient time, advised The Fundraising Coach. You’re not taking away anyone’s choice to engage in a conversation. You can leave a voicemail to prompt an invitation for further correspondence.

Cold calls should have one purpose: to schedule an appointment for a longer conversation. It’s going to take more than a few minutes to explain your cause and ask someone to consider making a donation. Since an individual is probably not expecting that first phone call, it’s best to keep this conversation confined to a minute or two. In addition to respecting others’ time, you don’t want to catch anyone off-guard by asking for donations right off the bat.

Instead, ask if you can schedule a time to talk about something specific, such as an upcoming fundraising event. You want to give enough information that your prospect is aware of the purpose behind future phone calls. Be as short and sweet as possible, and close the call as soon as you’ve set the appointment and said your thank you. Being concise lets your prospect know you won’t be wasting time when the next conversation rolls around.

Practice makes perfect

Picking up the phone gets a little easier each time you do it, so try making several cold calls in one round. You’ll build up a rhythm if you do. Above all, don’t sweat the details. Your efforts alone contribute to the strength of your charitable mission.