How to Have Your Best Discovery Visit

First visits with potential donors are awkward.

You're meeting a stranger.

They're meeting you.

This can lead to all kinds of nervousness...

...and that voice in your head telling you you need to sound smart, be likeable, say all the right things AND ask for money...

This month, in Fundraisers' Monthly, we're talking all about the Discovery Visit:

  • Phrases to help turn the conversation to money
  • The best questions to ask in discovery meetings
  • Tips to make your best case for your org
  • Keys to being your best in every conversation

How can you show up to your next discovery visit calm and confident?

Here are the 4 keys to being your best in every conversation:

1. Be Authentic. - Be You. This sounds obvious and easy, but it isn't. I've walked into the offices of plenty of super-successful CEO's, lawyers, hedge fund managers, museum curators and filmmakers feeling inadequate. That voice in my head told me I wasn't smart enough or successful enough to be talking to those people.

But here's the thing - they wanted to talk to me. Why? Because we both loved the same cause. The more meaning and purpose I found in my cause, the more it showed in my donor conversations. When you know your "why," you can't help but be authentic. (Nancy and I will share an exercise in Fundraisers' Monthly to help you find your why!).

2. Be Curious. - Listen. Ask great questions. Show up like you have something to learn from this human (you do!). Treat them like the most interesting person in the world. Ask their advice and take notes! (Geniuses take notes.)

3. Be Generous. - Tell them why you give to your cause. (P.S. If you give to your cause, it's a zillion times easier to ask other people to give!). Avoid the "shoulds." Don't assume they'll give to what you think they should give to. Ask them what they care about. Showing up generous also means you may not agree (on politics, religion or whether or not to get dessert), but you still find common ground. A skill the world can learn from fundraisers!!

4. Talk Issues, Not Institution. - This can be tough - especially in higher ed. You're there on behalf of your institution, so you want to educate - to share facts and figures to help this potential donor understand why they should give. This is where the dreaded elevator pitch comes into play. But donors care about issues. They want compelling ideas. They want to help solve problems. They give from the heart. You first want to understand the issues they care about - then link back to how your institution solves those issues.

You've got this!

For more inspiration: Check out this awesome Tedx Talk by Caroline McHugh, The Art of Being Yourself.

Get out there and have some awesome discovery visits! Raise money and change the world!

-Jenna