From the author of “Opening the Door to Major Gifts: Mastering the Discovery Call” (Charity Channel Press, 2013).
Every once in a while, I run into a prospect who tries to cut through my efforts with a simple, penetrating question:
Is this about a gift?
Put another away, I recently gave a book talk which was well received. However, at the end of the presentation my session host expressed skepticism about my process. “People know you are a director of development, so they know you want money,” the host exclaimed. “Aren’t there people who don’t want to go through this (cultivation) proess? They might not want to make a gift, and even if they do they may not have time for multiple meetings.”
The end result of this skepticism is often the question about my pursuit of a gift. The answer is simple:
I explain that while my function is to raise philanthropic support, my initial visit purpose is never to solicit them. I’m there simply to meet, say thank you, and assess the prospect’s possible inclination to make an investment in the future.
If the first visit is a success, of course my goal is to have a second visit. Maybe there will be an ask at the second visit, but maybe not. Everyone is different.
Whenever the “question” arises, prospects typically are quite satisfied with my answer. If the prospect pushes back more after hearing my response, however, it’s probably an indication that a meeting is not likely to happen or that a meeting will not be productive.
Again, I have, on a number of occasions, indicated to prospects that a gift discussion during a first meeting rarely happens and that when it does, it is always at the suggestion of the person I am meeting with. The subtle message is that asking for a gift would not be appropriate because we don’t really know each other yet.
Don’t let the “question” ever stop you from seeing your prospects. They just might start thinking about a gift after they hear what you have to say.