For Impact



Fund Development, Just Engage, How To Get a Visit | | Tom Suddes

We are professionals. We do not make COLD CALLS!

We always PREDISPOSE the prospect/potential investor to our phone call to set up
the visit… to the visit/presentation itself… and to the follow-up.


The word PREDISPOSE means exactly what it says. (Weird, huh?). We are literally (not figuratively) predisposing the person or persons in advance, to our contact.

Note: Predisposition is not ‘cultivation’! (Cultivation is when you spread manure on crops.)

Here are 3 ideas to help you with PREDISPOSITION (#1), to set up visit.

  • The Goal
  • G.T.A.: Grab Their Attention
  • 3° of Separation



The goal is to GET THE VISIT! It is not to ‘sell on the phone’!

With a really strong predisposition e-mail or letter, the follow-up phone call becomes very assumptive/presumptive!

“I’m following up on the note that you received from (Natural Partner) and I’d like to see if you might available next Tuesday morning? Or would Wednesday afternoon be better?”

This is not a Tom Hopkins (Sales Training Guru) spiel. It Works. Idea: Have someone else set up the visit! I know this is somewhat sacrilegious to many people, but I’ve found it to be the single most effective way to get visits.

*This is especially important if you are full-time Development Officer/Major Gift Officer/Chief Development Officer with a portfolio. You should be making presentations, not setting up visits.

In the predisposition note, the sender/Natural Partner simple closes the end of the note with “I have asked Phyllis to follow-up with you to set up a visit with (MGO).”

Note: I believe my ‘boss’/administrative assistant, Phyllis, can get me a visit with anybody! Having worked together for 19 years, we use this exact system. When Phyllis calls, she is not ‘worried’ at all about answering a bunch of questions or trying to ‘sell’ someone. She’s doing exactly what we communicated to the prospect/potential investor… following up.

Tip: Sometimes the easiest way to schedule is by using someone else you are visiting with that day or week. “Tom is going to be visiting with Jim W. at 10:00 on Tuesday. Could he meet with you before or after that?”

Or, use geography, “Tom will be in Cincinnati next week, and would love to spend 20 minutes with you if that works.”

*Assumes this is a trip.

GTA means be creative… set yourself apart… stand out!

One of the best ideas on this is using a ‘MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE’ as predisposition.

Turn that gala/signature event into both predisposition and grabbing their attention! Actually say that evening that someone will be following up with you to set up a visit. Or, ‘cherry picking’ 50 or 60 of the very best prospects out of the 1,000 people who attended who get a very customized follow-up note… setting up the phone call to schedule the visit.

We have also used a WOW PACKAGE to ensure that the person knew how important this visit was. Rather than an e-mail, actually sending a letter, with some visuals, and then indicating that this is what we want to share or talk about. Just thinking creatively will set you apart.

Fun Note: *I’m not suggesting you go as far as the extraordinary ad man, Jay Chiat, did. He said this his secret for getting people to take his calls was to call the person’s secretary and say, “Tell so and so his DOCTOR is on the line, and I have the results of his test.” (Chiat claimed that they would rush to the phone.)

My personal favorite creative story is around that busy, always traveling executive, whose secretary/gatekeeper always responds with, “Sorry, he’s traveling or he’s out of town.”

I simply ask the gatekeeper where the prospect’s next trip is going to be. She always asks, “Why?” And I respond, “Because I’d like to get a ticket and just fly with him so that we can talk while he’s on the plane!” (It’s really hard for someone to not be engaged at 30,000’. And, if you can get them on the window and you get the aisle, you can ensure there’s nowhere for them to go.)

The whole Kevin Bacon, 6° thing is just wrong. It’s been determined it’s actually 2.78
moves or connections between Kevin Bacon and any other actor.

Please pay attention: You are only 3° away from anybody who is a QUALIFIED PROSPECT!

First, it is very important that you note the term ‘QUALIFIED PROSPECT’. That means that there is a STRONG RELATIONSHIP to your CAUSE or CASE. (It does not mean a ‘relationship’ with you or another individual!)

Then, IF they are truly QUALIFIED PROSPECTS… you can use your NATURAL PARTNERS (Champions, Board Members, Key Volunteer Leaders, other Current Investors, etc.) to make the contact and the connection… and help set up the VISIT!!!

Here is the best way to explain this.

I am only 3° away from the Pope, the President or the Prime Minster of Israel.

I reach out to one of the most amazing human beings on the planet, Fr. Ted Hesburgh (with
whom I had the incredible experience of working with on the Campaign for Notre Dame). Fr.
Ted calls someone in the Vatican… who then sets up meeting with the Pope.

To get to the President, I simply hit speed dial for Dick former Governor of Ohio, Ambassador
to India, President of Colorado College and now Senior Counsel with The Suddes Group. Dick
has Bill Clinton on his speed dial. Bill calls President’s office and sets up visit (since he worked
really hard to get President elected,)

For the Prime Minister of Israel, I call anyone of a handful of Jewish leaders that we have
worked with and ask them to make a phone call or reach out to someone in Israel who can
then reach out to the Prime Minister. (I know. Probably not a good time to do this. He’s busy.
Just trying to make a point.)

One last story. I am only One Natural Partner away from the Dalai Lama.

At an international conference, I poured (fire hose?) my energy, heart and soul
into a keynote talk. Afterwards, a wonderful woman came up and said, “Thank
you. I learned so much… I will never forget this day.” Then she put her long
white scarf around my neck and said, (BTW) “My brother is the Dalai Lama.”

*If you want more on this, there are two great books on this phenomena, 6 DEGREES by
Duncan J. Watts
and LINKED by Albert Barabasi.