Potential major gift donors come from a variety of sources—a board member referral, a first-time annual fund donor, or an event participant. However these prospects get on your radar, it’s important to make the most of your initial contact with them. Here are a few tips to make sure you’re making the most of your discovery visits.
- It’s about the donor, not you or even your organization. Your conversation should focus not on what your organization does, but rather on your donor and what they would like to accomplish via your organization. This is the No. 1 rule for a reason, and applies to all your donor communications.
- Be prepared, but ask questions instead of reciting their biography. It’s important you know facts like a prospect’s history of involvement and/or giving to your organization, and any notable professional achievements. But you can reveal the knowledge you have in open-ended questions like, “What was it that prompted you to give for the first time?” And of course, always remember to thank them for any giving or involvement.
- Explore experiences with other nonprofits. Ask what other organizations they are involved with, and what they like and don’t like about those experiences. This will reveal the best steps for further engagement and can uncover areas of interest.
- Have a plan for the next step. This will vary depending on how the visit unfolds, but be prepared with a few options to further your prospect’s engagement. This might be an invite to a tour or an event, or even as simple as following up with information on a conversation topic. If you discover a particular interest, it might be connecting that person with someone else within your organization. Don’t be afraid to ask for permission for whatever the next step is.
Every time you go into a discovery visit, you might be meeting with your organization’s next major donor, which can create both anxiety and excitement. As the saying goes though, you don’t get a second chance at a first impression. Having a plan, a genuine curiosity and a focus on the donor will more often than not make this visit just the first of many steps in a lasting relationship.
Shocking Statistic: Branded giving pages produce seven times more dollars than generic pages. (Network for Good)
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