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Everybody needs a little support

by Cary Schwartz

The phone rings again and Emily can barely catch her breath before answering what seems to be the hundredth call of the day…

If this were a radio show, she would have already awarded the music festival tickets to a lucky caller 25 calls ago. She pulls the headset mic to her lips and puts on her friendliest support team sounding voice, hoping they don’t hear the twinge of annoyance seeping through.

Frustrated support worker“Good afternoon and thank you for calling our support team. My name is Emily, how can I help—”
She gets cut off, for the 10th time that day, as the upset fundraiser on the other end dives into their exasperated concerns.

“First of all, I was on hold for 20 minutes before you picked up!” says the frustrated fundraiser.

Emily explains for the third time in the last 30 minutes that she’s sorry for the wait and would be happy to help. If only she could muster up the courage to let this participant know that, since her organization had to make some extremely tough decisions and let a number of key staff members go, she has been the one in charge of answering these calls, which is taking up her capacity to handle the job that she actually got hired — and gets paid — to do.

How did she find herself in this position? Is this really what her workday will consist of going forward? Her work keeps piling up because she has to grab the phone calls constantly coming in, so when is she supposed to find the time to get her work done? All these questions race through her head as she continues this call with the unhappy individual on the other end. Once her organization cut its budget and sliced its employee list, Emily began feeling more and more pressure to continually answer phones, in turn putting her prioritized responsibilities on the back burner.

“Where do we go to get them?” the fundraiser says, snapping Emily out of her reverie.

Emily, still lost in her own head, answers to the best of her ability, “Uh, no. I mean, sometimes. Wait, what was your question again?”

Emily has now annoyed herself more than she could ever annoy the fundraiser. How am I going to get back in this caller’s good graces if I can’t even pay attention to their first question, she thinks to herself as the fundraiser speaks again.

“I said when we get to the event on Saturday, where can we pick up our T-shirts?”

Emily should have known it was about the shirts; it’s always about the shirts.

“Oh yeah, shirts, of course. There will be volunteers at the event that can direct you to registration, check-in and even the prize tent where you can pick up your incentive gifts for raising money for our cause.”

“Well, I hope the volunteers are better trained than your phone support staff,”

… the fundraiser snarkily says as she hangs up the phone without a goodbye. Emily realizes two things at that moment:

  1. Yes, the volunteers will be better trained than our support team because we don’t currently have a support team.
  2. And… we better get a support team!

Emily quickly needs to find a way to hire a group of hard-working and knowledgeable individuals to help her organization take calls and answer all the emails and chats coming in fast and furious from the fundraisers for their annual event. The question is, how can she hire and train these people in the extremely limited time she has? Then she remembers that company her peers within the nonprofit world had been talking about at their yearly conference of peer-to-peer professionals — Charity Dynamics.

Emily makes the call, and in a short time,…

Charity Dynamics’ support team is fully trained on the event and ready to tackle any questions that come their way. Emily takes a relieved breath and realizes that this is the first time in a year that she has been able to breathe. She has been feeling underwater for so long that just sitting down and enjoying a relaxed sigh was something she didn’t even know she needed. She goes back to her daily workload pre-support team and is able to glide through her day with the attention to detail that had been lacking for months.

relived supportAs Emily’s work life quickly gets back to normal, it occurs to her that the normalcy of her workday isn’t even the greatest benefit. The best part of this partnership is that the fundraisers are now getting the knowledgeable and friendly help they deserve. Right away, the participants have become empowered and immediately feel the connection to the organization’s mission — which is what inspired them to register for the event in the first place!


In the end, bringing in the Charity Dynamics support team not only elevated the fundraisers’ experience with the event, but it also helped the organization bump up its donation goals and exceed the amount it planned on raising — a union for the ages.

Cary Schwartz is the Marketing Coordinator for Charity Dynamics and a published author.

He is incredibly talented, ridiculously good looking and extremely modest.