Landing a meeting with a major donor prospect is a big deal! Your potential contributor is committing their time to you, which shows that they have a real, serious interest. Meetings like this are a big part of any nonprofit's donor development strategies.
The first meeting should accomplish a few things. It should start to build a trusting and deep relationship, but also include productive takeaways for both parties as it relates to helping the cause.
So how can you make the most of this time with your prospect? Here are the six topics you’ll want to discuss!
1) Get personal
When you’re talking about donations that can range from hundreds to tens-of-thousands, trust is always an important factor. While that should eventually grow to include the trust of your organization, it begins on a personal level.
Starting off your meeting by chatting about casual, personal matters will help accomplish that, as well as allowing the conversation to flow more naturally. By reviewing the data tracked in your CRM's donor profiles, you can prepare yourself to chat about topics like family, relationships, work or other affiliations, and hometowns.
2) Share your organization’s impact
Once the conversation moves towards your cause, nothing will be more important to your potential major donors than learning about impact. After all, if they’re going to provide a large gift, they will want to make sure that your team will be able to turn it into results.
3) Share your organization’s challenges
On the other hand, it’s always important to tell both sides of the story. For all of the success your nonprofit has had, there are always challenges, too. With limited resources, there are often projects that can’t be taken on, over-burdened staff and volunteers, or other areas where improvement can be had.
Sharing these with your prospect isn’t a sign of weakness, but rather, it accomplishes two important goals. One, the honesty you show will continue to build trust between yourself and the major donor prospect. Two, seeing your challenges will make it clear how a contribution can really help make a difference that may not otherwise be possible.
4) Explain the options
Some major donor prospects may have contributed large amounts to other charities before, but to others, this will be a new experience. In some cases, that may be overwhelming to them.
To set the table for your ongoing relationship, you can use the first meeting to discuss the variety of options for a major gift that exists. While your prospect may only be thinking of writing one big check, you can explain that other key contributors have offered physical property, stock, pledged for the future, or agreed to spread their gift out over a few years.
5) Talk about the personal benefits
There are certainly donors who will only need to hear about your challenges and the impact they can help create before being ready to commit. Certainly, that should be the bulk of your discussion.
But, realistically, some donors will want to hear about the personal benefits that making a major donation will have for them. This can include invitations to major events and galas, being featured on a donor wall, or a write-up on your organization’s website. A brief mention of these benefits can sometimes sway donors who need extra motivation.
6) Make an ‘ask’
After taking your donor prospect’s valuable time to discuss challenges, opportunities and giving options, you should get a feel of where your supporter is at. Are they interested in a certain type of gift? Are they still debating the merits?
Based on the response you are getting, you should be sure to make an 'ask' of some sort as a takeaway from the meeting. That could be asking for a specific gift type, for a second meeting with others, or just to think about some of the options before a follow-up.
This will help avoid leaving the meeting on uncertain terms and ensure that both you and your major donor prospect have come out with a better understanding of each other’s needs and desires.