3 mistakes to avoid on discovery calls

Fundraisers find discovery calls to be: difficult, very difficult, extremely difficult, horribly, and, excruciatingly difficult.

During the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ annual conference, John Greenhoe said that a survey of fundraising callers found the task of making discovery calls to be difficult or extremely difficult, or varied by fundraiser, to be the response from nine of ten people asked.

Difficult, unpleasant, pride-killing, whatever they are, they are necessary for fundraising.

Greenhoe said there is room for improvement, and that can come if callers are aware of the three most common mistakes, as well as tips he offered to help rectify the mistakes.

The mistakes and tips are:

  • Lacking discipline. Procrastination, avoiding the difficult, being reactive. Tips: set small, achievable goals, set aside an afternoon every month. Remember OARS: One hour each day; At least seven calls per prospect; Recycling prospects; See them or cross them off.
  • Becoming easily discouraged.  Giving up easily, apologizing, a weak/embarrassed approach. Tips: use positive self talk, never apologize, assume the prospect will want to meet, remember that enthusiasm can be contagious.
  • Not focusing on the donor/listening. Too much tie focused on the organization, thinking too much about the pitch, making assumptions. Tips: show genuine interest, ask probing questions. Remember that silence is golden: allow the prospect time/space to elaborate.