1. Make your own pledge or gift first
This provides credibility to your request. Your contacts will respect you for asking them to give, knowing that you have demonstrated your own commitment.
2. Know your contact
Review the contact profile carefully prior to your visit, and identify possible reasons for them to give. This will help guide your conversation with each individual.
3. Talking points
Memorize a few talking points ahead of time about GVSU, the contact’s program of study, or activities they participated in as a student. If they ask questions during your conversation, it’s ok to admit you don’t know the answer. You can always follow-up afterward to provide more detail or pass those questions along to our staff.
4. Face-to-face visits
It is always best to set a face-to-face visit when possible.
- Demonstrates credibility – You are taking time and effort to visit with them.
- Focuses attention – You are more likely to have their full attention in a face-to-face visit.
- Clarifies communications – You will receive both verbal and non-verbal feedback, and you may be able to communicate more clearly in person.
5. Ask for a specific amount
We have provided a suggested request amount in each of your contact profiles, although you are welcome to adjust the amount based on your personal knowledge of the contact. Asking for a specific amount clarifies your expectations and allows them to consider your request more thoroughly.
6. Give the contact time to say yes
Allow the individual time to consider the request, allowing for silence if appropriate. If the amount is a concern, you can suggest a payment schedule (monthly or quarterly), or suggest a smaller gift. You may also ask the individual to suggest an amount where they are comfortable.
If you don’t receive a firm commitment in the meeting, we ask that you follow-up with an email and/or phone call in a few days to discuss the request further. Please consider sending a thank you note after each of your visits.
- There is no single moment or method that’s right for everyone when making a philanthropic commitment. Each situation is unique, and you’ll need to base your gift request on the individual’s mood, and his or her interest level in what you have to say. Often though, the occasion will clearly suggest itself.
- Notify our staff or your assigned chair promptly of your successes or of any major difficulties you may have along the way. We are here to be a resource for you!
- Thank you for visit
- Explanation of Alumni Champions initiative – to increase alumni support for students and engagement with GVSU
- Ask open-ended exploratory questions (see list of strategic questions provided)
- Discuss commonalities, GVSU experiences, career, family
- Share information about areas of interest to prospect
- Make request. Example: “Would you consider joining me in supporting GVSU with a gift of $[amount] to [fund]?”
- Allow time for consideration
- Answer any questions
- Share information about upcoming GVSU events/other engagement opportunities
- Set expectation for follow-up if appropriate
- Thank you again
Handling Difficult Situations
On a rare occasion a difficult situation may arise during a visit.
- If the contact seems concerned by your request for financial support, do your best to end on a positive note thanking them for their time and support of any kind – financial or otherwise. Assure them that we appreciate the involvement of our alumni in any way they choose, not just financially.
- If the contact raises concerns or criticisms about Grand Valley, listen attentively, let them know you understand their concern and that you will pass it along to the Grand Valley staff. Please do pass along any concerns to us, and we will do our best to address them.