When the donor offers you refreshments, say “yes.”
The first few minutes of a major gift cultivation or solicitation visit set the psychological stage. With the offer of refreshments, the prospect is taking a step toward you. Accept. Your acceptance is building the social bond. You are also modeling “yes” mode.
If the offer is generic, as in, “Can I get you something to drink?” pick something that is obviously available. Water is a safe bet if you don’t see cans of soda or the coffee pot percolating. If you are offered an array of choices, e.g., “Would you like coffee, a soft drink, or some water?” – feel free to select your favorite.
If the prospect has made coffee or is serving tea, he or she will typically tell you: “I’ve made fresh coffee.” Say “yes” to the offer whether or not you are thirsty or a coffee drinker.
Your only escape is a medical issue that precludes you from partaking, i.e., the prospect already made caffeinated coffee and you can’t have caffeine, in which case you should thank the prospect, wish you could join him or her, encourage the prospect to pour him or herself a cup and request water instead, e.g., “Thank you so much for making/ordering coffee. It smells great and I wish I could join you but I’m not permitted to have caffeine. But please do pour yourself a cup and I’d love a glass of water.” Don’t forget the glass of water.
Beverages are the most frequent offer, but the same holds true if cookies, pastries or other foods are presented.
Say “yes” to the coffee at the beginning of a donor cultivation visit or major gift “ask” and set the stage for success.