Some gift officers chafe at the idea that Prospect Discovery visits should be purposefully planned with specific questions prepared to ask.
“It feels too staged. . . too inauthentic. . .to probe with specific, planned questions,” they respond when presented with questions they could ask the prospect.
“I just let the conversation emerge organically and I find out a lot about them.”
In other words, they wing it.
The problem is, many of these same gift officers regularly emerge from Prospect Discovery visits reporting “great visits,” but with conspicuous ambiguity around the 3 critical questions of Prospect Discovery:
- How much financial capacity does the donor have?
- How enthusiastic is the donor about the institution? and,
- What evidence is there that this prospect has a generous spirit?
Winging it doesn’t represent some higher virtue of authentic relationship building.
It may actually suggest an authentic lack of respect, either for the prospect’s time or our professional craft.
Even the best improvisation has a discernible structure.