The First Visit - Three Quick Tips

By Patrick Steward, Mayo Clinic Development Officer

While each donor relationship has its own priorities that emerge, I have a set list of my top three goals for a first visit to a potential benefactor.  

These are usually current or former patients of Mayo (or family) with whom I've made a positive initial connection. Once that connection is established, I set up an appointment and travel to see them.  

This is an initial visit, and as such, its success hinges on deepening my connection to the donor rather than procuring a commitment.

Indeed, I consider the visit a success if I come away with the following information:

1) Do they have a sincere intent and interest in making a major gift?

Not just any gift, let alone an annual level gift, but a Major Benefactor gift. At Mayo, the baseline for this is $100,000. For a small organization, it may be $500. It's all relative.

2) What are their areas of philanthropic and personal interest?

In regard to the philanthropic: What causes matter deeply to them? Who are they passionate about helping?

As for the personal: What are their hobbies, political views, favorite places to travel? Connecting with the donor around matters of personal interests and philosophies is a critical component in laying the groundwork for a meaningful relationship.

3) Has a good rapport been established?

As I'm asking questions and being an active listener, I'm compiling my impressions and making a determination: Does this have the potential to be a good professional relationship?

If yes, fantastic--the groundwork has been laid for subsequent contacts and visits.

If not, mitigate or move on.