Securing a Meeting with a Prospective Donor
Several things need to be aligned for a successful face-to-face gift solicitation. First of all, you need to find the right prospect. This is someone who either has a relationship or an interest in your institution, as well as the capacity to make a gift.
You also need to determine the right time. Maybe it’s been a year since the prospect’s last gift, it’s a reunion year for their class, or a special occasion for your institution—like an anniversary of its founding. Or maybe they’ve recently been engaged in some way by visiting campus, volunteering, or receiving an award.
Finding the right place to meet is important too. The best location is always where the prospect feels the most comfortable. So, if you have a say, try to meet at the prospect’s home or office, where you can see them in their own element. This will allow you to look for clues about their interests and learn more about them as a person.
Remember that a meeting doesn’t just happen on its own. You’re going to have to ask for it. When you do, make sure it’s clear to the prospect why you want to meet with them. Even though “asking for money” might be on your agenda, try to focus on some of the other good reasons why you might be asking for a meeting. For example:
- You’d like to give them an update on what’s been going on around campus
- You’d like to talk with them about their reunion or other upcoming event
- You’d like to say thank you for their past giving and tell them how it’s having an impact
- You’d like to get their opinion
- You’d like to talk with them about “leadership”
When you’re clear and direct about why you want to meet with a prospect, the likelihood that they’ll take the meeting goes way up. The same can be said for the solicitation itself. The more clear and direct you are about why you’re asking and how their support will have an impact, the greater the likelihood that your solicitation will end in a yes.
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