The Worst Way to Start a Major Gifts Fundraising Call

“Is now a good time to talk?”

This is one of the worst ways to start a call to schedule a visit (unless you know the person really well).

Here’s why:

  1. If the donor doesn’t know why you’re calling, they don’t even know what they’d be saying “yes” to. In other words, is this going to take 2 minutes or 20 minutes?
  2. You’re going to get a bunch of people saying “no.” Now you’ve got to try to schedule a time to call again (Why schedule a scheduling time? Just schedule the visit!)
  3. People have been conditioned to not want to say “yes” in sales-like situations. We feel like we’re trapping ourselves when we say “yes” to a question like this.

Chris Voss explains this very well in the book Never Split the Difference.

If you are going to ask a question like this (which I don’t recommend) at least ask it with the hope of getting to “no.”

In other words, “Is now a bad time to talk?”

  1. It takes 2 minutes to schedule a visit. Whatever conversation you’re having about whether or not it’s a good time to have a conversation is just WASTED time.

They wouldn’t have answered the phone if they didn’t have 120 seconds.

On the slight chance there is some sort of emergency and they can’t speak for the 22 seconds it takes to tell them why you’re calling they will just hang up.

I just spent all this time telling you what NOT to do, here’s what you should do for donors in your database that you have never visited with.

Use this script:

“Good morning Bob, Kevin Fitzpatrick with Acme Nonprofit. The reason I’m calling you today specifically is to schedule a visit regarding Acme Nonprofit. How does next Tuesday at 10:00am look for you?”

Yes, say all of that as soon as they answer the phone.

You won’t believe it works until you try it.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!


Kevin Fitzpatrick is the owner of One Visit Away, a consulting business helping leaders of nonprofits schedule more and better visits with their benefactors.  Kevin’s goal is to help fundraising professionals constantly seek to deepen their relationships with their benefactors.  After all, you’re just One Visit Away from growing your mission and your impact.  


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