Mastering the Art and Science of Discovery Visits

This event has ended.

Mastering the Art and Science of Discovery Visits

This event has ended.

Build a discovery toolkit that helps you deepen engagement with donors and move relationships forward.


Skillfully navigating the discovery and qualification process is an essential skillset that gift officers need for success. Without knowing how to ask the right types of insightful questions that unlock conversations with prospects, major gift officers and advancement shops may struggle to increase their donor base. This can impact future fundraising goals, potentially hindering the long-term viability of your institution from making the case for principal or transformational gifts. 

Join us at this conference to build your unique discovery work toolkit by exploring different strategies for starting the relationship with and engaging with prospective donors. Not only will you walk away with concrete examples of how to secure meetings with your best prospects, what questions to ask, and how to map out next steps, but you will also be able to test your approach with your peers and receive valuable feedback and insights from our expert speaker. 

Who should attend?

This conference will be beneficial primarily for new and aspiring major gift officers who want to build or reassess their discovery work foundation. Individuals who are new to major gift officer roles with non-higher education backgrounds will also benefit from this experience.


Day 1: Tuesday, March 19, 2024
8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. ET (local time in Boston, MA)

Registration and Continental Breakfast
8:30 – 9:00 a.m.



Welcome & Introductions
9:00 – 9:30 a.m.



Opening Activity & Group Discussion
9:30 – 10:15 a.m.
We will use this time to share and explore your biggest obstacles when it comes to discovery work. Given your relatively newer experience in this role, it will be helpful to name and share the challenges that you’re facing so that we can identify common pain points or struggles as a peer group. Our expert speaker will reflect and comment in response to the challenges shared by the group.



Morning Break
10:15 – 10:30 a.m.



Initiating Prospect Conversations: Traditional & Digital Methods
10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Discovery work is a blend of art and science. It requires that you pick the right method of communication at the right time, so that you can truly connect with the prospect. In this session, we’ll explore how to blend traditional and digital methodologies to create a strategic approach that will result in your first conversation or meeting with the prospect.



12:00 – 1:00 p.m.



Preparing and Structuring Your Meeting
1:00 – 1:45 p.m.
You have scheduled your donor conversation; now how do you prepare? Learn the best approaches you can take for an effective and productive meeting with your donor by envisioning your goals and planning out the ideal next steps you want from the meeting.



Thoughtful Questions and What to Listen for in Your Donor Conversations
1:45 – 3:00 p.m.
Connecting with prospects for the first time is an opportunity to start building trust. The types of questions you ask will not only lead to information-gathering, but they can also unlock deeper conversation and build trust. Learn how to build your repertoire of specific and open-ended questions that can lead to qualifying prospects. Walk away with real-life examples of what to listen for to determine whether someone wants to engage with your institution.



Afternoon Break
3:00 – 3:15 p.m.



Practicing the Art of Discovery Work and Discussion
3:15 – 4:30 p.m.
Given all the tools and strategies you’ve just learned, you will now practice discovery by working through a variety of case studies in small groups. After practicing, the groups will share and receive feedback on how they approached the conversations so that everyone can learn from a variety of different communication styles and techniques.



Networking Reception
4:30 – 5:30 p.m.
This informal reception is your chance to decompress, have some refreshments on us, and expand your network of connections. Our programs are intentionally designed for smaller groups, so this is a great time to catch up with attendees, as well as with our guest speaker, whom you may not have connected with yet.



Day 2: Wednesday, March 20, 2024
8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. ET (local time in Boston, MA)
Continental Breakfast
8:30 – 9:00 a.m.



Solutions Clinic: Getting Advice from Peers to Advance Donor Conversations
9:00 – 11:00 a.m. (with a 15-minute break at 10:15 a.m.)
There is no one-size-fits-all approach or magic bullet for how to conduct the perfect discovery visit that leads to qualification. Often, there are situational nuances with each prospect that will force you to be flexible and innovative in how you secure a conversation or visit. Because of this, there’s tremendous value in tapping into the collective knowledge of those in the room by learning how others might approach a donor conversation—particularly the ones that are stalled or stifled. Those with experience can share their expertise, while those who are newer to this role can share a fresh perspective. By participating in this solutions clinic, you will collectively get to provide possible solutions and strategies for how to resolve any specific challenge you’re facing during your discovery work.



Finalizing Your Discovery Work Toolkit
11:00 – 11:15 a.m.
Through a quick facilitated exercise, you will reflect on your conference experience, and we’ll record the most useful strategies, tips, and tools that you can implement right away when you return to campus.



Final Q&A, Conference Wrap-Up & Evaluations
11:15 – 11:30 a.m.

Save on In-Person Conference Registrations

Attend any three in-person conferences for $5,000 for Members ($5,500 for Non-Members) – or $1,667 dollars per registration for Members ($1,833 for Non-Members) – with a Conference 3-Pack. There’s no one way to use your 3-Pack!

  • Send 3 people to the same conference
  • Send 3 individuals to different conferences
  • Experience 3 different conferences yourself

Learn More


Hyatt Regency Boston/Cambridge

575 Memorial Drive

Cambridge, MA, 02139

A discounted group room rate of $209/night is available. Please use this link to book your room before February 26, 2024.

Unable to attend this event? Get the binder.

Conference binders include all presentation slides, worksheets, action plans, and additional resources from the conference. Conference binders are shipped upon receipt of payment within 2-4 weeks of the conclusion of the event.


Note: This binder is included in the conference registration price. If you are attending the conference and wish to purchase an additional binder, please give us a call at 720-488-6800.