Cold Calling to End Youth Homelessness, One Life at a Time

Jun 30, 2021

StandUp for Kids – Orange County

The term “cold calling” can bring up feelings of annoyance – we’ve all been on the receiving end of less-than-pleasant interactions with telemarketers – as well as dread for the person making the call. I’m Geno, and as an intern with StandUp for Kids, part of the work I did was making cold calls to raise awareness. I enlisted volunteers and donors to join the cause and gain referrals to help locate youths in need. I have to admit that my first few calls didn’t go the way I wanted. But by remembering the ultimate goal of getting the word out (along with a few valuable sales tips!) I’ve been able to enjoy plenty of great phone calls.

There are tons of practical strategies for making cold calls go smoothly. Setting designated times to make calls, practicing before making the call, and even spraying a hint of cologne for a boost in confidence can all help tip the scales towards hearing that “Yes!” (For those interested, I highly recommend Zig Ziglar’s Selling 101 – it’s an easy read with helpful advice on cold calling.) At the end of the day, the person on the other end of the line is a human. I like to think of each person I call as a friend, so there’s nothing to be afraid of while making the call.

The day I made my call to HIS House OC, I had just finished up street outreach and was stuck in traffic. Although my other interactions that day had not been going the best, I didn’t let that dampen my spirits. I try to approach every conversation with the same enthusiasm and positivity I had at the start of my day. It isn’t always easy, but people can hear through the phone when you’re smiling and care about the organization.

After trying every number in the HIS House phone prompt and calling multiple times, I finally got through and started speaking with Alfa. When she expressed interest in hearing more about StandUp for Kids’ work, I quickly connected the dots. I explained how we could help the youths at her organization that were new to the state and has difficulty securing documents like birth certificates and Social Security cards. I sent her an email that evening with details about our programs and referral forms for any youth who might benefit from our services.

My first conversation with Alfa was on a Friday evening before a long weekend. I called to follow up the Tuesday of the following week, and when I was unable to speak with her, I sent a follow-up email. Alfa finally responded the next day with 11 youth referrals for StandUp for Kids – far more than we usually see at one time! She mentioned later that she might have forgotten about the conversation over the long weekend if it had not been for my persistence. These youths may not have had the chance to access our programs.

The key to success in this case, above all else, was continually following up. Staying positive and prompt in every communication is so essential when forming new relationships. It indeed shows how much we care about helping youths as an organization. I believe in the work of StandUp for Kids, and my dedication to helping give each youth the best chance at success means doing my best. If you have a passion for helping and want to see what roles are available, please review our volunteer page here: