Best practice call from University of Queensland

Smiling businesspeople in a call center office

I received my annual call from University of Queensland (UQ) this past weekend. It’s no secret I am a big fan of UQ and the manner in which the Advancement Office handles donors. As is typical with the UQ call each year, the call Saturday was a mix of stewardship, data enhancement, solicitation, and data hygiene.

Kudos to UQ. Why? Read on.


The call opened with the student, a female, asking me how my Saturday morning was progressing. During the conversation, she wove in a question about the weather in Sydney and compared it to the weather in Brisbane. This ice breaker and idle chit chat was a nice approach and allowed the student caller to determine I had a few minutes to spend with her and to further figure out I was willing to converse. She moved into her own plans after her graduation in November. She shared the fact she and her partner are considering a move to Sydney. We talked about the expense of living in Sydney compared to what she is used to in Brisbane. The caller asked if I had any advice to her about her career and her life after graduation. Once I shared my advice and said “you have lots of time to figure it out, you are only 22 years old”, she shared advice she had received from others and she asked me my opinion on the advice she had received. This was solid engagement.

The student then turned to business.


The caller thanked me repeatedly for my past support and talked about the difference it makes to the lives of UQ students. She spoke first-hand about the education she has received and how this has positioned her well for life after graduation.

Data enhancement

She then asked what caused me to support UQ, recognising I am not a UQ graduate.


The caller then asked if I could please consider renewing my past support. When I asked the dollar amount, she shared the gifts I have given each year over the past several years. I renewed the support.

Data confirmation/editing

The caller confirmed my address, email address and other contact details. Had something been erroneous, she could have updated their CRM on the fly.


At the end of the call, the student thanked me profusely for renewing my support. She informed me I would receive a thank you receipt and a thank you video via email soon. Within 24 hours I received the thank you Email, containing a video that will warm the heart of anyone.

Most universities use student callers to contact alumni and friends to seek their support. It’s not rocket science. My university calls one time per year. The nostalgia the call from my alma mater stirs is what works so well.

I think all types of non-profit organisations can learn from and employ this technique. Each non-profit organisation should think about the who, the how, and the when aspects of this type of call:

  • Who is the best audience to call your potential supporters? Clients, patients, or volunteers?
  • How will the calls occur? Are you supplying the callers with the kind of data, the script, training, and other tools they need to have these types of natural conversations?
  • When will the calls occur? When is the best time to call your audience? Is there a time of year when these calls work for your organisation?

Getting the who, how and when correct makes the whywhy should donors support your organisation – an easy sell.

By the time the UQ student caller got to the solicitation in this call, there was no question I understood the why. For UQ it is all about the supporters connecting with their student body. I could not have exited the call without renewing my support. A beautiful experience.