Value-Added Discovery Calls

Clients regularly ask me what they should be accomplishing during major donor prospect discovery calls.  Most understand that leaving a discovery visit with a clearer sense of financial capacity and a gauge of closeness to the institution are important.  However, many clients want to know the other areas that are important to probe.

In addition to gaining intel on capacity and closeness, I believe we can add significant value to our discovery calls by asking a few additional well-framed questions.  From my vantage point, I want to know more about three specific areas:  the prospect’s lifestyle, the prospect’s values, and the history of how the prospect emerged as a giving person.   For me, walking away from a discovery call with an enhanced understanding in these areas means the institution is now much better positioned to strategize on possible cultivation steps for this prospect.

To get answers in these areas, here are a few questions I have used over the years:

  1. In what positive ways did our institution impact you life?
  2. Where is your favorite vacation spot?
  3. From whom did you learn about generosity and philanthropy?
  4. What charitable organizations are you involved with and why?
  5. What do you wish to accomplish with your charitable giving?

Gaining helpful answers to these questions is important.  But never forget the real value-add of a good discovery visit – securing the follow-up visit!


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