Once you have done prospect research and built the relationship with the prospect, it is time to have a more formal meeting and explore their possible financial support for your organisation. The best way to do this is through a personal meeting.
You may think it is scary to meet with someone in a powerful position in a company or a foundation. Doing a few things to prepare for the meeting with make you more confident to handle the meeting. Remember, within every donor is a human being – so prepare well and relax when you meet.
What do you need to know about the project?
Are you sure that what you are asking for is something the potential donor is interested in? There is no point in going to meet with someone who is not interested in your NPO and the work it does. It is vital to do research into the individual, company or foundation to be sure that the issues and causes they support fit in with what your NPO does.
Key information about the prospect that you will need to know before the meeting:
- Some personal information, including their other interests and hobbies
- Common values, for example, if you are a children’s right NPO, what kinds of human rights work have they supported in the past?
- The history of their relationship with your NPO, for example:
– Have they visited your projects?
– Have they met a member of the board?
– Have they donated money or given support in the past?
- Their capacity to give – in other words, are they able to give?
– For example: A company that is retrenching its workers is unlikely to fund you.
– A company that has made large profits is more likely to be in a position to give
Some questions donors are likely to ask include:
- Numbers: How many people do you help?
- Budget: What is the size of your NPO’s budget and how much do you spend on staff and programmes?
- Other donors: Prospects like to know who else is giving, as they don’t want your NPO to be dependent on them alone.
- Your staff: They want to be confident that the people running your projects know what they are doing.
- Impact: They will want to know what has changed in the community as a result of the work your organisation is doing.
*If you don’t know the answer to a prospect’s questions, tell them you will come back with the information. Do not make things up.
Other important details to be aware of:
Besides having a good understanding of your NPO and the donor, you should have these things with you when you go to a meeting:
- The exact address of the building and a map of how to get there.
- Details of where to park if you are going by car.
- Bus, train or taxi routes if you are using public transport.
- The contact number of the prospect’s office or secretary in case you are running late.
- A note pad, pen and business cards (if you have them).
- An information pack for the prospect, with information on your NPO such as your annual report, your financial statements, a pamphlet outlining what you do and photographs of your activities.
- A case for support – if the donor asks for a full description of your organisation’s reasons for existence and activities.