Getting Prospect Meetings Right

Posted on 05/01/2024

When it comes to having a productive meeting with a donor or prospective donor, your degree of preparation is not the only determinant of success. There are in fact four additional things that you need to get right—and all of them are as much under your control as being adequately prepared for the meeting.

  • The right prospect. While it would certainly be nice if you could meet with each and every constituent from your institution, there is only so much time in the day. From a fundraising perspective, the best prospect to prioritize is someone who has donated to the institution in the past or who seems likely to make a significant gift (whatever that means at your institution) in the future. If neither of these is true about a prospect, then meeting with them is likely not worth your limited time.
  • The right reason. Make sure it’s clear to the prospect why you want to meet with them. Even though asking for their financial support may be high on your agenda, try to focus on other good reasons why you are asking for a meeting. For example, you’d like to give them an update about recent developments on campus, or you’re eager to hear their thoughts or feedback on the direction the institution is taking.
  • The right place. Virtual meetings are fine for some purposes, but nothing beats face-to-face. And the best place for an in-person meeting is always where the prospect feels the most comfortable. You just need to ask them where that is. If they don’t state a clear preference, suggest that you meet at their home or office. This will allow you to look for clues about their interests and learn more about them as a person.
  • The right time. Although your calendar is likely jam-packed, you should aim to accommodate the prospect’s availability. The best time to meet with a prospect is, quite simply, when it’s most convenient for them. If that means you need to move existing meetings to fit them in, that’s exactly what you should do.

Getting these things right will eliminate any unnecessary friction in your meeting. That will enable both you and your prospect to focus on the main point of meeting: strengthening the prospect’s relationship with your institution. After all, that relationship is what will ultimately lead to a renewed or increased financial contribution.

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