In the fundraising profession, there are few experiences more rewarding than having a really great discovery visit with an interested (and interesting!) potential donor. Sometimes, these conversations just “happen.” However, in most cases there are several things the development professional does to set the stage for success.

Securing the Visit

In his phone call asking for the visit, the development professional describes an agenda for the meeting that includes exploring the potential donor’s links to the organization, and then getting the donor’s reaction to some information he will share.

He makes it clear that he won’t take more than the hour of time he requested.

Conducting the Visit

At the outset of the visit, the development professional thanks the potential donor for her time.

He asks open-ended questions that begin with how, why, what, and who and he frequently says, “Tell me more about that.”

After learning about the potential donor’s personal story, he asks for permission to share his organizational update.

He makes sure that the information he presents for the potential donor’s reaction is “seeded” with examples of existing philanthropy and philanthropic opportunities at levels appropriate for the potential donor.

He fosters a conversation about mutual interests by pausing frequently, so that the potential donor can react and ask questions. He also gauges interest by listening for tone and watching body language.

He suggests a couple of engagement opportunities clearly tailored to the potential donor’s interests.

Concluding the Visit

The development professional is mindful of the clock so before his hour runs out, he mentions the time to the potential donor. And because he is doing such a nice job of involving the potential donor in a high-value conversation, he is invited to stay longer.

He genuinely thanks the potential donor for her interest and conversation and outlines what he will do to follow up, including timing expectations.

Most importantly, throughout the meeting, rather than mentally preparing his next remarks, he actually listens to what the potential donor is saying. As a result, he knows that this potential donor is a qualified prospect based upon her interest and financial capacity.

And, he leaves with a smile on his face, knowing that he is representing his organization in a way that inspires confidence from someone who can help achieve its mission.


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