Sixteen Questions to Prepare for the Ask

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Published February 17, 2015

Sixteen Questions to Prepare for the Ask

You have come to that point.

You know what I mean. You’ve been there yourself.

You sent the letter to get the visit. You made the call. The time and date are set. You got the appointment. (You have heard me before on this— if you get the appointment, you’re 85% on your way to getting the gift.)

Before you sit down with the probable donor, there are sixteen questions you must answer before the meeting. I think about these before every visit I make. If it’s a really consequential gift I’m after, I write down the answers. That’s how I make certain I’ve covered every item.

  1. Do I have all the necessary information and research I’ll need on the person I’m calling on?
  2. Have I thoroughly anticipated the probable donor’s needs and expectations for this meeting?
  3. If substantive information or a proposal are being presented, have I previewed these in advance of the meeting?
  4. Are the right people— from the donor’s side and from our organization— coming to the meeting?
  5. If more than one from the organization is attending, have we discussed and clearly clarified the roles that everyone is going to play?
  6. What are the most prominent messages or ideas that I want to get across? How would I summarize these in one minute or less?
  7. What are the different options for presenting our ideas? A brochure? Video? Written proposal?
  8. Do I have some engaging stories that can help illustrate our points?
  9. Is there anything I should send beforehand that will make this meeting more productive?
  10. What’s going on in the client’s world right now? What pressures is he or she feeling—at work and at home?
  11. What will my donor’s reaction be to what we have to say?
  12. What are the objections the probable donor might pose?
  13. Is there enough flexibility built into the schedule to have a vibrant, give-and-take discussion?
  14. What are the 3 or 4 key, thought-stimulating power questions I plan to ask at this meeting? What questions might the donor ask?
  15. What do I think will be the important follow-up to this meeting? (You can’t leave a meeting without either a gift or a date for another meeting.)
  16.  (I consider this last item very important.) How can I infuse this meeting with enthusiasm, new ideas, and WOW!