Here you are, prepping for your big major donor visit. Yay! 

As you walk into her office or home, should you be saying: “Yikes! What do I do now?”

Don’t fail in your next major donor visit.

I’ve seen lots of people strike out when they finally get that coveted appointment with their major donor.

Why? Because they talk too much. They are rude. Their donor perceives them as boring. They blather on and on. Don’t let that happen to you!

Here are my top ways to get the most out of a major donor visit:

1. Always set objectives before you walk in the door.

I hope you have multiple objectives to accomplish during this visit.

Be sure you decide on what they are BEFORE you walk in the door.

Otherwise you’ll get lost in the conversation.

You need to be ruthlessly practical about this visit.

Know WHY you are going to see Mr. Prospect, what you want to find out, and what level of interest you are trying to generate.

2. Ask for advice.

I’ve written a lot about Advice Visits here, and here.

It’s absolutely the best way to get in the door.  You can say you want to run an idea by them, or pick their brain.

They’ll be willing to see you if they know that THEY get to do the talking.

They just don’t want to get stuck listening to some boring presentation. Do you?

You can never go wrong by asking your donor what she thinks of this strategy, or that event, or this publication, or even your entire fundraising approach.

This is how you enlist her help.

3. Listen, listen, listen during your important major donor visit.

If you are doing more than 50% of the talking you are DEAD.  Listening is a lost art!

When in doubt, shut up!

When in doubt, shut up!

One of my top fundraising mottos when I am on a major donor visit is “when in doubt, shut up!”

The fundraiser’s KISS OF DEATH is talking too much!

Your goal in this visit is to find out information about your prospect.

You’ll never find out anything if you do all the talking.

Use your radar to pick up all sorts of info about your donor.

4. Show up as an interesting person and a good conversationalist.

If you show up as an interesting person, then your donor will want to spend time with you.

What does it mean to be interesting?

It means  you are able to ask interesting questions.

Be well-read and knowledgeable on current events. Read your local paper.

Be able to carry on a conversation with your donor about different topics.

Be smart and ask smart questions. Let them do the talking and they will like you a lot. :)

5. Probe their interest in your cause.

Ask all sorts of questions like:

  • Why do you care about our cause?
  • Could you see yourself getting more involved with our organization?
  • I’d love to know about your philanthropic vision.
  • What do you think about our organization?
  • What about the need – is it real?
  • What do you think about this project we are working on?
  • How do you think we can raise the money? (this is one of my favorite questions!)
  • How can we best address the need?
  • Do you agree with our plan?
  • What is the most interesting part of our plan to you?
  • What do you think our best strategy is for lining up support?
  • Who else would be interested in hearing about this?
  • How can we get them on board?

You can find out so much by just asking great questions.

6. Listen for the donor to say “we.”

I love it when my donor starts using the word “we” when she’s talking about my nonprofit.

“We” tells me that she is bought in. She’s joined the team. She thinks of herself as part of US!

You want your donor to start saying things like “we need to be doing this and this. . . ” instead of saying “you need to be doing . . .”

And when she makes the switch, you know you’ve made major progress.

You are no longer an outsider to your donor. You’re now someone she believes in and wants to help.


To help you even more with your next major donor visit, I’m offering a FREE webinar next week for you and all your colleagues:

FREE WEBINAR for you: Building a Successful Major Gift Program: Overcome the 5 Hurdles Holding You Back.

I’m offering the class twice next week:

On Tuesday October 23 at noon ET, and Thursday October 25th at 2pm ET.

We’ll tackle the five major roadblocks that keep you from landing the major gifts that can forward your mission.

You’ll discover:

  • Why major gift fundraising is the most effective way to raise funds for your cause
  • How to engage your board members and leadership to help with major gifts
  • What attitudes get in your way and how to overcome them 
  • Why changing the conversation from “fundraising” to “philanthropy” will help get the whole organization on board the major gifts train 
  • How to make major gifts a priority when you are swamped with too many things to do 
  • Easy and fun ways to engage board members in the major gift fundraising process 
  • The two major systems you’ve got to have if you want to be successful

So join us if you want to build a productive, lucrative major gifts program for your organization.  I’ll also be introducing our 2019 major gifts coaching program for you as well. You can find out more and register here. 

Hope to see you there!