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Hi Grandma Josephine. It’s me, Jenny!

Hi Grandma Josephine. It’s me, Jenny!

grandma josephineTips for getting that planned giving discovery meeting

This article originally appeared in Gift Planning In Canada’s September Edition.

A wise fundraiser once told me “Jenny, it’s hard to fall in love on a first date.”  So how the heck do you fall in love on the telephone?

The answer is, you don’t.

In order to secure a Planned Gift, you first have to get a meeting. And the main tool for securing a Planned Giving Meeting is the telephone.

I love planned giving discovery calls. Why? Because they are warm calls: these people have usually arrived on your prospect list radar because they are somehow connected to your organization – past board members, long-time volunteers, monthly or annual donors. You’ve got this fabulous opportunity to connect with someone who potentially loves your organization just as much as you do.

The only thing you need to do is call them up, let them know how grateful you are for their long-time support, and ask to meet them in person so you can say thank you!

Except…planned giving prospects have some pretty specific objections to meeting with you.

  • I don’t like to invite strangers into my house
  • I don’t drive
  • I am taking care of my grandkids for the next two weeks
  • I’m actually in Florida

To secure that meeting, you’re going to have to think about how to frame the conversation, and you’re going to have to be ready to overcome objections.

Here’s a list of great opening lines for that phone call.

  • Mrs. Smith I have this year’s tax receipt. Would you be home next Tuesday at 2 pm so that I can drop it of and say thank you so much for your donation in person?
  • Mr. Smith I have made it a priority in 2015 to connect with our longest/strongest/best/most passionate/dedicated volunteers/donors/board members and you are top of my list. Would you have time to meet with me so I can say thank you for all of your hard work on behalf of organization X?
  • As a past patient/family of the X community, I’d love to meet with you to find out more about your organization X experience.
  • In speaking with Mr. Jones, I learned that your life has also been touched by the organization X experience. I’d love to hear your story.  Would you have time for a visit?

Here’s a few other ways to help secure a meeting.

  • Ask for an introduction to Mr. Smith through your shared connection Mr. Jones.
  • Start the conversation as a donor thank you call. When the donor starts to share and explain why he/she gives, transition into “I’d just love to learn more about your passion for X. Would you have time for a visit on Tuesday next week?”
  • If your prospect is email savvy, ask your connection to provide an e-introduction to a prospect for you. Follow-up over email and ask for a meeting.

You want to make it easy for people to say yes. Propose a specific time in the near future, and suggest meeting somewhere that is convenient.  The only purpose for that first phone call is to secure a time to meet – tomorrow, next week – sometime specific where you can get to know one another. Don’t get ahead of yourself.

Handling Objections

Donors lead the way in relationships. We follow their lead and respect their wishes. But if there is an objection that is not insurmountable, we need to be prepared to overcome it.

I am going on a trip next week. “Oh have a wonderful time. Would it be best if I gave you a ring after you got back? When should I call?” Be sure to add an alert to your calendar with your prospect’s phone number to make it easy for yourself!

I’ve got my grandkids with me this week. It’s not a good week. “Absolutely. What would be a good week for you? How does next week look? Maybe Wednesday?”

I am not comfortable inviting people I don’t know into my house. “I completely understand. What if we met at our main office here downtown? We can have a coffee and I can show you how your donations really are making a difference.” (Or, you might suggest a neutral ground like a public Tim Horton’s coffee shop.)

I do not have time and I am not interested in meeting with you. “No problem. Well thank you so much for your donations over the years. You are one of our most loyal donors and I wanted to be sure to reach out to you personally to say thank you! Have a great day!” Depending on the response on the phone, you could consider a handwritten thank you card as a follow up to show your gratitude.

Securing a first meeting is the first step in furthering a beautiful relationship with a planned giving prospect. From this beginning step, wonderful things can happen. So who’s on your prospect list right now that you can connect with over the phone?  I know you’ll have a lot in common. All you have to do is go on that first date.

So tell me? What’s your favorite way to start an awesome planned giving conversation? Drop me a line in the comments section below.


Liked this post? I am running my Planned Giving Course in March 2016. Find out more about the course by emailing me at [email protected].