Are You Ready to Reach Out and Connect with a Potential Donor?

by Anne Bowlby Anne Bowlby | Feb 6, 2023 8:00:00 AM

FundraisingIf you're new to development or fundraising, the prospect of meeting with a potential donor can be daunting. But meeting with donors is essential to building relationships and soliciting gifts. Here are some tips to help make your first meeting a success.

Securing the Meeting

The first step to a successful donor meeting is securing the meeting itself. There are various methods to secure and schedule a prospective donor meeting. Keep in mind, some may be more effective than others depending on the donor's preferences.

Email Outreach

  • Personalize your emails - When reaching out to prospects, make sure that you address them by name and personalize the message to them. Show your donor that you value their time and contribution and that you’ve taken the time to research who they are and what drives them.
  • Make a compelling ask - Your prospective donor wants to know why they should set aside time for a meeting with you. Use this opportunity to tell your story engagingly and explain the impact that their donation could have on your cause or organization, but don't lay it on too thick.
  • Provide plenty of detail - Include information about where, when, and how long you’d like to meet with your prospect—as well as any

Cold Calling

  • Be friendly - When cold-calling a prospective donor, make sure to start with a friendly introduction of yourself and your organization.
  • Be clear and direct - Be prepared to state the purpose of your call clearly and concisely. Make sure you can explain why the cause or organization is important, what the donor’s gift would be used for, and how it would help further your mission.
  • Be understanding - Demonstrate that you understand their interests, and any previous donations they have made and express your appreciation for their time and support.
  • Be sure to listen - Finally, provide them with an opportunity to ask questions or voice any concerns they may have so that you can better address them in future conversations.

Now that you've secured the meeting, it's time to start preparing.

Preparing for the Meeting with a Prospective Donor

Research your prospect

Donor research might sound intimidating - and it's true that it requires extra effort - but it can be an invaluable tool for engaging your potential donor. Don't underestimate the power of research! Taking a few moments to Google the donor and look for news articles or recent interviews can arm you with useful information, as well as shape how you approach them when you meet. Don't go in blind; boost your confidence and familiarize yourself with their work so that you're well-prepared for the conversation!

Develop talking points

One of the most important steps in securing a donation from a potential donor is to make sure that you are prepared with talking points that will keep them engaged and make them feel as if their support is both needed and appreciated. To get started, jot down any exciting projects you’re working on, such as renovating a community park or launching a new educational initiative. Be sure to explain why your cause would benefit from the donation - how it could help make an impact in the community.

Don’t forget to provide updates on what has been accomplished so far; this will not only demonstrate how effective those previous donations have been but also motivate the donor further towards participating. You can even discuss the long-term goals and plans for success, letting them know exactly where their money would be going. With your organized plan of action, you’ll be sure to deliver an inspiring presentation that will leave the donor feeling satisfied in knowing they were part of something bigger than themselves.

What to Do During the Meeting

Dress to impress

Setting a good first impression is essential, so when you're attending an important donor meeting, you want to dress to impress! Make sure your outfit is professionally appropriate and reflects the kind of person you are as well as what you're trying to achieve. Putting thought into your look will not go unnoticed - first impressions matter and they can make a huge impact on how people perceive and remember you. So choose something tasteful that showcases your true self, stand tall with your head high, and convey confidence with every step.

Know your stuff inside and out!

If you're working with prospective donors, it's always important to be prepared and know your stuff inside and out! Having a thorough understanding of the work that your organization does enables you to answer any questions a prospective donor may have regarding the cause they are interested in supporting. Being knowledgeable isn't just to impress someone - it's also essential for building trust with prospective donors, who are much more likely to feel confident donating money when they are armed with all the facts. Anticipate questions donors may have and take time to study up on any recent changes in your organization; having that handy knowledge ready in your back pocket can make all the difference when meeting prospective donors.

Have an ask in mind - what do you want from this meeting?

Before any meeting with a potential donor, it's important to have an ask in mind. It's okay to be specific about what you want from the meeting, but don't forget to make sure that your expectations are realistic and don't be too pushy. The donor should feel comfortable and make sure that you don't put pressure on them. It's also important to take the time to listen - take notes, consider all valid points, and don’t try to force a decision from them immediately. Consider what you want from this meeting, state it confidently but don't forget to understand the other’s point of view too.

Make sure you have appropriate materials specifically for that prospect. Bring any literature or additional information about your organization or event that may help make your case for why they should donate.

Show enthusiasm

Make sure to smile, make eye contact, and express enthusiasm when discussing the mission of your cause or organization. Be passionate as you explain how their donation could help further the cause or event.

After the meeting

Say thank you

Always make sure to close the loop with everyone you meet. A thank-you note or email after a meeting is a great way to emphasize what you discussed, reiterate your ask if you have one, and express your gratitude. Follow-up notes are also an opportunity to build on relationships by complimenting someone’s great idea or fondly remembering a shared experience. They can also help flag important items that might have been forgotten during the meeting.

Don't get discouraged

It's important to remember that meeting with potential donors isn't always a guarantee of receiving a donation. Donors often need time to think, research, and consider the options before making a decision. Even if you don't receive an immediate response or have the answer you were hoping for in the meeting, it doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. Stay positive, thank them for their time and consideration, and keep building relationships as this could be invaluable down the line.

Don’t get discouraged; focus on what went well and use those learnings when you meet with other prospective donors. Ultimately, having meaningful conversations and forming trusting relationships is at least half of the battle. A successful donor-fundraising relationship takes patience and perseverance, but it can be incredibly rewarding.

Ultimately, it’s important to remember that securing a successful meeting with potential donors requires time and commitment, but when done right it can be incredibly rewarding. Even if they don't end up donating, don't get discouraged – it's all part of the process of establishing trust and building long-term relationships. So don’t give up and keep pushing forward!

Have you had a successful meeting with a prospective donor? Tell us about it in the comments!

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