Mastering the Art and Science of Discovery Visits

Mastering the Art and Science of Discovery Visits

June 27 - 28, 2023 | Denver, Colorado

Explore the practice of discovery through inquiry and authentic curiosity to unlock deeper conversation with prospects, donors, and volunteers.


Skillfully navigating the discovery and qualification process is an essential skillset that gift officers need in order to be successful in their role. Without knowing how to ask the right types of insightful questions that unlock conversations with prospects, advancement shops can struggle to fill their donor pipeline. This can impact future fundraising goals, potentially hindering the long-term viability of your institution from making the case for principal or transformational gifts, if the right prospect has never developed a relationship with your institution in the first place.

Ensure that your frontline fundraisers, and even your annual giving and alumni relations teams, are well-versed in the art and science of discovery work. This will elevate the expectations toward which each unit strives, bringing together a more cohesive approach to the language you use when speaking to prospects about the mission and initiatives at your institution.

Join us in this interactive conference to build a discovery work toolkit of your own specific questions by finding ways to engage with donors who don’t want to meet and identifying next steps. Not only will you walk away with concrete examples of how to secure meetings with your best prospects, you will also be able to test your approach with your peers while in addition receiving valuable feedback and insights from our expert speaker.


Who Should Attend

This conference will be beneficial for both new and experienced major gift officers who want to hone and refine their approach to discovery work. This program is also ideal for annual giving and alumni relation professionals who want to bring more prospects into their donor pipeline or identify candidates to volunteer for opportunities at their institution.


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


Follow Through With Success Coaching

Have you ever gone to a training only to find that you came back with great ideas but don’t have the time, support, or skills needed to make the changes?

Academic Impressions has produced thousands of trainings and we have learned that utilizing a coach after attending a conference helps provide accountability and bridges the training with the on-the-ground work of getting the job done.

As a result, we are now offering success coaching on select conferences.

  • Purchase this training + 3 one hour follow up success coaching calls
  • Work with an assigned coach who has extensive experience in higher ed.
  • Get individualized support to help you follow through on what you’ve learned.
  • Workshop your plans, run your ideas by someone and get additional help/practice.

To get success coaching, simply purchase the Conference and add Success Coaching during registration.

Learn More About Success Coaching


Your registration fee includes full access to all conference sessions and materials, breakfast, lunch, and access to the networking reception on Tuesday and breakfast on Wednesday, as well as refreshments and snacks throughout the conference.

Day 1: Tuesday, June 27, 2023

8:30 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. MT (local time in Denver)

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



Welcome, Overview, & Icebreaker
9:00 – 9:45 a.m.



Initiating Prospect Conversations: Digital Methods
9:45 – 10:30 a.m.
Connecting with prospects for the first time must be done through trust-building using emotional intelligence, active listening, and gratitude. In this opening session, learn how discovery work is a blend of art and science by getting into the right mindset before beginning your outreach using digital methods.



Morning Break
10:30 – 10:45 a.m.



Initiating Prospect Conversations: Traditional Methods
10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Traditional methods of initiating prospect conversations in discovery work remain tried and true. Whether it’s with an old-fashioned phone call or by utilizing the power of mail, by working through sample scripts that have secured conversations, you will gain an understanding of how to blend the methodology of your strategic outreach that leads to your first visit with the prospect.



12:00 – 1:00 p.m.



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



Making the Most of a Visit: Thoughtful Questions and What to Listen for When Unlocking Deeper Conversations
1:45 – 3:00 p.m.
The types of questions you ask will lead to information-gathering, while also unlocking deeper conversation through the building of trust. Learn how to build your repertoire of specific, yet open-ended, questions that can lead to qualifying prospects for a major or annual donor portfolio, and/or as a volunteer for your alumni team. Walk away with real-life examples of what to listen for that will help to inform you of whether someone wants to engage with your institution.



Afternoon Break
3:00 – 3:15 p.m.



Group-Specific Case Study & Role Play
3:15 – 4:15 p.m.
Depending on your role within advancement; whether in major gifts, annual giving, alumni engagement, or strategy, you will have the opportunity to practice discovery by working through case studies. Afterwards, share and receive feedback on the questions you used and the approach you decided to take in the conversation.



Day One Q&A and Wrap-Up
4:15 – 4:30 p.m.



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, and our guest speaker, whom you may not have connected with yet.


Day 2: Wednesday, June 28, 2023

8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. MT (local time in Denver)


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



Day One Reflections
9:00 – 9:15 a.m.



Solutions Clinic: Getting Advice from Your Peers to Tackle Your Toughest Challenges
9:15 – 11:15 a.m. (with 15-minute break)
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 manage to secure a visit and ask questions. Because of this, there’s tremendous value in tapping into the collective knowledge of those in the room by learning how others approach this work. We’ll bring the themes of the program together to identify some of the biggest challenges you’re facing as it relates to discovery work. Then, alongside your peers, you’ll dialogue and brainstorm possible solutions, tips, and strategies for how to mitigate or resolve the specific challenge you’re facing.



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


Post-Conference Virtual Training Free With Registration

As part of your registration for this conference, you can extend your learning by attending a virtual training, Navigating Challenging Conversations with Donors. This training is included in our membership. Details about how to access this opportunity for free will be sent upon registration of the conference. To get access to more trainings, explore our membership.


Hyatt Regency Aurora hotel

Hyatt Regency Aurora

Address: 13200 East 14th Place Aurora Co 80011

Phone #: (303) 365-1234

Room rate: $189.00

Ask for the Academic Impressions Room Block

Room block dates: June 26 and June 27, 2023

Room block cutoff date: June 5, 2023

Please use this link to book your room.



Professional portrait of Lauren Wise

Lauren Wise

Philanthropic Advisor, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Lauren refers to frontline fundraising as a “calling.” She brings her passion for education around the “how-to” of this work through her personal experiences transitioning to frontline fundraising. In her current role at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, she builds meaningful relationships with alumni and community members who want to make a difference through their philanthropy.

Read Speaker's Full Bio.

Questions About the Event?

Portrait of Nick Pettet

Nick Pettet
Learning & Development Manager,
Academic Impressions

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