Making It Count

“Can’t make our meeting tomorrow,” my client said. “My board member set up a meeting with a potential donor.” OK, so now I have mixed emotions. Great that the board member set up a meeting. Not so great that it is on such short notice. And, I wondered, how prepared were they for this meeting. So I asked:

  • Who are you going out with?
  • What is the purpose of this meeting?
  • What are you hoping the outcomes to be?

I was right to worry.

“I don’t know,” my client said. “I’m just going as the ED.”

Ummm….fundraising just doesn’t work that way.

Having meetings for the sake of meetings is, frankly, a waste of time. And if there is a greater purpose to those meetings, you owe it to yourself, your prospect, your volunteer, to be well prepared.

Well prepared starts with knowing who you are meeting with. Is this an existing donor or meeting plannersomeone new to the organization? If your volunteer set up the meeting, ask her what she knows. And in today’s world, an internet search may reveal much. In my client’s case, although this happened after the fact as I was trying to show her to value of planning, we learned that the prospect served on a board of an organization that had strong ties to her organization. And that his son worked for one of her vendors.

Important stuff that is well worth your while.

Then, before you go out, ask the three questions above and think about what you will need to learn about the prospect at the meeting—so what questions should you prepare—and what you might want to bring. Also, consider is there information the prospect is likely to ask about? Be prepared to answer.

And then, if you are going out with a volunteer or another staff person, make sure you convene beforehand and discuss the meeting. Plan who will be the leader, and who the follower. Who will say what? And again, what do you hope the outcomes of this meeting will be. Discuss how to end the meeting so you ensure you get there.

Then, after the meeting, write a call or contact report. What new things did you learn about this prospect? What do you need to follow up on? And most importantly, what is your next step? And by next step, I mean the thing you do AFTER you send your thank you note.

Oh no, I hear you say. I’m too busy to do all that. But you are not, you know. This is the crux of your job. And if you don’t do these things, then the meetings you do have will be a waste of time.

Janet Levine works with nonprofits, helping them to increase fundraising capacity and have productive meetings.  Learn how she can help your organization at  Ask for your free 30 minute consultation.