There you are – qualifying another prospect. You’ve prepared your list of questions to help determine wealth and affinity. But here is the one question you should always ask:

What was the one part of your college experience you valued the most?

The answers to this important qualification question will begin to expose your prospect’s passions and help you to craft a strategy for future engagements that may ultimately guide the direction of the donor’s major gift. Here’s a sampling of some answers that reveal important clues to help you design the next steps of engagement with your prospect.

Answer: Scholarship

“I received a scholarship that helped me a lot. Without it, I don’t know if I could have finished my degree at Mumford University.”

Love this answer! After being properly cultivated, this prospect is primed to be asked for a scholarship gift.

Answer: Faculty Member

“Professor Inglewood from the Physics Department was an unbelievable mentor to me. During my first year, I struggled and he took the extra time to help me get through. I still keep in touch with him.”

Great! Update the prospect on the faculty member and the department. Ideally, set up a meeting between the prospect and the professor. This could lead to a major gift honoring the professor in the form of a scholarship or student support fund, for example.

Answer: Student Groups/Sports/Greek Organizations 

“I was a member of the Computer Science Club on campus. What a great experience. I created lifelong friends and it helped me to land an excellent job because club members were being highly sought after and recruited.”

Clubs and Sports are an important part of the overall college experience, right? There are lots of ways to engage prospects: reunions, speaking engagements and mentoring opportunities to name a few. An endowed gift in support of a group seems like a sure winner.

Answer: Academic Support Center

“The academic support center was a huge help to me as a student. I struggled early on in my math and science courses. They took the extra time to get me up to speed and I made the dean’s list consistently.”

Offer to set up a meeting with your prospect and the director of the academic support center. Your prospect may wish to pay-it-forward, for example, with a gift to endow funds to hire additional support staff which are often desperately needed at universities.

Answer: Capstone Project

“My senior year, I was part of a capstone project where a team of students consulted on a project for a local engineering firm. The project taught me a lot about working in teams and I eventually got a job with the engineering firm.”

Capstone projects are always in need of alumni mentors, guest speakers and supplies. Your prospect might love an opportunity to meet with current students and/or the director of the program. The eventual goal here would be securing an endowed fund to help underwrite guest coaches and project materials.

Now that you’ve got that One Question – get listening!

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