All fundraising intelligence roads lead to that first meeting with a prospect (or donor, if you are preparing for an annual check-in). Your team has identified a potential donor, researched their philanthropic “fit”, and cultivated the prospect’s interest in your organization. Now it’s time to meet face-to-face.
No matter if you’re a rookie or veteran fundraiser, and no matter if your ask is for $1000 or $10 million, a productive meeting is all about the fundamentals of effective communication: do your homework, be an engaged and effective listener, and maintain an ongoing post-meeting dialogue. Here are some tips and strategies to make the most out of your next meeting with a major gift prospect or donor. These ideas were inspired by a recent insightful webinar hosted by the Chronicle of Philanthropy and sponsored by iWave.
Do Your Homework — Fundraising Intelligence
Think you know everything about your prospect’s wealth capacity, affinity, and propensity to give? If you use a fundraising intelligence platform, you probably have a good understanding of your prospect’s ability and interest to give to your cause. But what if things have changed since you completed your initial research? What if a board member handed a business card to you just now and said you have a meeting with Jane Doe tomorrow afternoon? It’s time for prospect research — stat!
Here are some indicators to look for as you compile your research:
The key to a successful meeting is to eliminate as many unknowns as possible. If you’ve already done the background work on your prospect, consider these other ways to prepare for your upcoming meeting:
When preparing for a meeting, put yourself in the prospect’s shoes. Consider their motivation. Why should they care about donating at all, let alone to your organization? If you’ve done your research, you may have an idea of the prospect’s philanthropic history and interests. But it’s always best to ask the prospect directly: What do they want out of this relationship?
Some questions to consider asking your prospect may include:
The meeting is wrapping up. Thank the donor for their time, exchange business cards or contact information, and remember to pick up the tab! But even though the meeting is over, the work isn’t.
Be sure to send a follow-up email to keep the interest alive. Share stories of how previous donations have helped your organization in various ways. This is especially helpful if your prospect or donor sees their contribution as an “impact investment.” They want to know where that investment is going, why, and how it’s helped. By sharing this kind of information with someone, they will be more likely to make that first donation or continue donating well into the future.
Want to know some more tips for identifying, cultivating, and soliciting donors? Watch a recording of our webinar “Conversation Starters” with fundraising consultant Paul D’Alessandro. Contact our team to learn more about our fundraising software.
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About the author:Ryan McCarvill joined the iWave team in 2016. Ryan enjoys meeting and learning from nonprofit professionals, researching trends in the nonprofit community, and offering strategies for development teams to use iWave’s solutions to meet and exceed their fundraising goals.