The Major Donor Visit Strategy

When it comes to Major Donor visits, our motto is prepare, prepare, prepare, and then... be flexible. 

The best way to have an effective visit is to have a written strategy. The process of writing it down forces you to articulate exactly what you want to accomplish, and can help keep you focused during the meeting. Think of it as a roadmap that will give you confidence so you feel relaxed and fluid during the meeting. 

Here are some ideas to include in your written plan:

The Basics

  • Name
  • Date
  • Contact Info: (Make sure you have their contact info readily available in the event of a last minute emergency.)
  • Key Players: (History with your organization, other relationships with people related to your organization. Be sure to review all the old contact reports!)

Meeting Details 

  • When is the meeting
  • Where is the meeting?
  • Who is attending? Your goal should almost always be to get spouse/partner at the meeting, as evidenced by this page on decision making in high net worth households. 
  • The intended outcome of the meeting is? 
  • At the conclusion of the meeting, I want the prospect to feel...? 

Tip: At the time the appointment is set, reinforce the importance of the meeting by indicating that you will confirm the appointment a day or two prior.

During This Meeting I Want To Share (choose whichever are appropriate, these are only suggestions; the important thing is to take the time to write the plan)

  • Stewardship for their past gifts: Share the total picture of their giving, not just their last gift or their biggest gift. Even if you are just inviting them to increase their annual fund gift, by talking about their total giving, you will show that you keep records and that you are thinking about their relationship with your organization over the long term.   
  • Share Institutional priorities: Where appropriate, use this discussion to explore a range of priorities that can help determine the donor's particular area of interest. Notice what they respond to and are interested in and focus on that.  
  • Share at least 2 - "Isn’t it amazing?" statements: You can say it just like that. "Isn't it amazing that...?" Share whatever you think will connect to the donor's area of interest.  

During This Meeting I Want to Learn (again - what follows is not intended to be comprehensive - the key is to write your intentions down)

  • About family dynamics: A visit in the home is the best, the office next, and a neutral location is a distant 3rd. You can learn so much about someone in their home. Take note of the environment - displayed awards, family pictures, magazines, art, papers - whatever they are subtly sharing with others. Asking about their environment is a great way to get them talking about what they care about and their interests.
  • How their wealth was acquired: Questions to get at this might revolve around education, career, parents, family, the family business, etc.
  • Where and how are they currently philanthropic and how do they feel about it: We love this question: "What has been your largest philanthropic gift, and how did giving that gift make you feel?"

For more on major gifts visits and talking points go here

This page on the adult stages of philanthropic development is helpful too.