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Donor Discovery Visits That Jumpstart Gift Conversations

That first meeting with a donor sets your course and speed for relationship building and getting to a gift conversation. The right questions must be asked to glean key information that will inform your next moves and help you build rapport with the donor.

The information will also help inform the gift you will eventually ask of your donor, using a new tool being announced on September 12th. We’re introducing something new that can help with this. It’s called Abacus, and we’re going to tell you more about it on September 12. Count on something wonderful!

Rapid Rapport

There are small things you can do to rapidly build rapport with the donor during your first visit. Remember, people “mirror” what they experience, so start with a big smile and a handshake. If the donor speaks slowly or quickly, do the same. Physical rapport involves reflecting on the donor’s posture, placement of hands, the crossing of legs, and other mannerisms that you may be able to mimic without being obvious about it.


Ask the donor if they mind you taking some notes while you talk. If it is okay, note important points. On sensitive points, don’t write it down in real time, but rather note it later in the conversation. When you get back to your car, dictate into your phone any key points and takeaways, overall impressions of the donor, personality traits, and potential next moves. Then email your dictation to yourself and get all your notes into the donor’s database record.

Topical Questions

People like to talk about themselves. So let the donor know you are there to get to know them and to understand how their philanthropic objectives may intersect and align with the opportunities and challenges of your organization.

Ask which organizations and causes they support and their level of engagement, and why. What is it about your organization’s mission that interests them?

Ask about their earliest memory of being philanthropic. As long as you have some level of ease and rapport with them, you can ask most questions without concern. If you want to go deeper, based on the conversation, just ask for permission to do so. If they agree, then you have done a good job building rapport, and you are free and clear and in a great place with the donor.

Related Posts

●     Are You A Gift Whisperer?

●     Ask – Don’t Assume – About Your Donors

●     Focus … Major Giving

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