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September 24, 2009


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Kevin MacDonell

Extremely helpful post, but I'm a little confused ... You write: "To calculate participation, just take the total number of pledges and divide that figure by the total number of contacts (solicitations) that a caller makes. In other words, add pledges, refusals, and unspecified pledges together to arrive at the total contacts number and divide that just by the pledges." The second sentence seems to contradict the first - it's dividing in the opposite direction, is it not? But I'm not sure!

Rikki Starich

I've worked at a number of small, manual phonathon institutions and there seems to be a disconnect between how we calculate contact percent and how automated organizations do it. Everywhere I've worked, we've used the calculation of number of terminated calls (one that is a yes, no, maybe) divided by total number of dials. We were alarmed by how low our contact percent was compared to some institutions until we realized how different our calculations actually were. To me, the contact percent calculated above is more of a "participation" rate for the phonathon. Any thoughts?

Jason Fisher

Contact percentage, as a best-practice, is calculated as Total Contacts divided by Total Completed Calls. It is a measure of how many completed calls actually result in a solicitation (a.k.a. a contact). Schools often use contact percentage as a measurement of data quality since the non-contact completes are likely bad telephone numbers (disconnects, wrong numbers, for example.) In addition, "other" completed calls also include those prospects whom you cannot solicit but for whom you get a result that does not allow you to call back into that household during this campaign (Already Pledged, Do Not Call, Remove from List, Deceased, etc.)

The number of dials (attempts) is used to help understand time management...but is not a primary indicator when looking at a precise view of statistical performance. Often, contact percentage is confused with contact RATE...which is Total Attempts (dials) divided by Total Contacts. This is what you describe in your comment.

A contact is defined as a Specified Pledge, Unspecified Pledge, or No Pledge (refusal). These are the total number of solicitations made and the only three result codes that should be considered a contact. Therefore, participation is calculated as Total Pledges divided by Total Contacts...giving you an indication of how many successful solicitations your callers have made out of the total number of solicitations made- reflected in a percentage. Taking total pledges divided by total dials (attempts) is, in my opinion, a diluted way to look at your caller's effectiveness inside the negotiation process.

Hopefully that helps clear it up!

Brandon Santos

I think I understand where the confusion is coming from. When Jason says "In other words, add pledges, refusals, and unspecified pledges together to arrive at the total contacts number and divide that just by the pledges" you really mean it the other way around: participation is determined by dividing the total number of pledges by the total number of pledges, refusals and unspecifieds. The numerator and denominator were accidentally reversed there; otherwise you would be getting participation over 100%.
Similarly, when you mention contact rate above you describe it as total attempts divided by total contacts (again a number greater than 1) when Rikki describes the opposite (total contacts divided by total attempts). I don't typically use that metric but if it's supposed to result in the percentage of attempts that results in a contact then Rikki's version is correct.
Hopefully that clears things up but let me know if I'm mistaken.

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