(Note: Following is an introduction to a new book I have written that will be published by Charity Channel Press in April 2013.)
My new book, “Opening the Door to Major Gifts: Mastering the Discovery Call,” details a “better way” to bring new prospective major donors to your non-profit organization.
Some of the information in the book comes from the school of hard knocks. I kept trying different ideas until I found one that worked. I learned other methods from professional colleagues. For example, the discovery call questionnaire in Chapter Eight originated from a document shared with me by my former boss, Bud Bender, who retired as WMU vice president for development in 2010 after a long and successful career in fundraising.
As I’m sure you know, if you are not feeding new prospective major gift donors into your pipeline on a regular and systematic basis, sooner or later your efforts are going to stall. So, whether you are new to fundraising or have been active in the profession for years, this is a resource that can help you build new relationships and add good prospects to your portfolio.
The book provides specific strategies that will increase your odds for success when you are ready to meet your donors. You will learn—as I did—to “warm” your prospects so they are receptive to your outreach, to make allies of the gatekeepers who control access to the decision makers, and to conduct a qualification call that is both casual and purposeful. All of these methods are designed to initiate a comfortable and meaningful relationship that will one day result in a significant philanthropic investment.
How important is the task of mastering the discovery call? Take a look at the average portfolio of a major gift officer. A number of industry benchmarks indicate that if there are 150 individuals in a fundraiser’s portfolio, as many as half of them (seventy-five) might be prospects/suspects who haven’t yet been properly qualified. Therefore, it is critical for today’s development professional to become proficient in prospect qualification.
My aim with the book is to present information in a straightforward and logistically sequential fashion. We start with the reasons why qualification calls are important and then delve into researching your prospects. Following that are practical tips for negotiating voice mail and gatekeepers en route to successfully making the appointment.
Next we focus on the actual format of the discovery call, including suggested scripts that you may wish to employ during your face-to-face visit. Down the homestretch, we look closely at strategies for conducting follow-up calls and then conclude with a look at future trends.
The qualification of donors is, generally speaking, not an easy task. Hard work and discipline are essential. At the same time, bringing new donors to your organization can be a lot of fun. You’ll meet some amazing people, many of whom will share your passion for your nonprofit.
Bottom line, if you follow the strategies detailed in the book, I believe you will be successful. If I did it, you can too.