This is part one in a two-part series. You can read part two here.

Running a nonprofit is a labor of love. It’s often also a lot of long, tiring hours spent working, leaving little time left to create marketing and awareness-generating campaigns for fundraising.

When it comes to gaining visibility and making donations easy, an answering service can simplify everything for a lot less than you might expect, freeing volunteers up for field work or to spread the word in the community or online.

Answering Service Benefits for Non-Profits

Although nonprofits may not think about partnering with an answering service to help fill some of their staffing gaps, there are many ways that these companies can help a nonprofit look more professional and be more available. First impressions are everything when it comes to attracting donors, so you’ve got to make sure you’re looking your best.

Here are a few ways an answering service can make your non-profit look like a total pro:

Creating a full-time virtual receptionist. Many nonprofits suffer from inadequate staffing because of a lack of willing volunteers.

Even if you have plenty of volunteers, you may not have anyone with the same phone skills as a trained professional telephone operator, leaving the impression with callers that your nonprofit might also be a little less than professional. Answering services employ and train pros, and that’s who answers the phone, each and every time a donor, news outlet or potential volunteer calls for more information.

Providing a toll-free number. Toll-free numbers tend to come along with costly phone packages that most nonprofits simply can’t justify or afford, but by partnering with an answering service, you can look just like the larger players in your field. Instead of out of state callers trying to remember your area code and phone number, your toll-free number will give them easier to dial options.

Making it easy to donate. Making a great first impression is important, but it’s also crucial that you have someone to answer the phone when your wildly successful pledge drive or social media marketing finally hits. After all, if there’s no one to answer the phone, you’re going to lose those donors to other funds, even if they had every intention to donate to you. Even dedicated donors who find it hard to donate may put off their donation until they’ve forgotten about it entirely.

Relaying important messages. When the media want to contact you for a news story that could help increase your nonprofit’s visibility, the last thing you want is to be hard to contact. Your answering service can make it very easy to find you, if you want them to. Basic message relaying services will send a message to your smart phone, email or fax machine, but you can also opt to have the call transferred using a service called Follow Me. This service rings all your available telephone numbers until it finds you, ensuring that a caller that can increase your nonprofit’s public exposure is given the highest priority care.

In part one of this two-part series on using an answering service to improve visibility and your ability to interface with non-profit donors, we discussed several things a service can do to improve your image and response time. In part two, we’ll look at other services many answering services offer that can help you communicate even better on a limited budget.