The Secret to Getting Prospect Meetings

prospect meetingsA question I’m often asked is:

“How can I get more prospect meetings in the diary?”

You’ve spent weeks, sometimes months, researching the perfect donors. You’ve established who is in your networks and have a really clear project or campaign that is visionary and ambitious – but now you’ve got to convince those people on your prospect list to meet with you. So how do you go about it?

1. Make a commitment to get out of the office

Strange as it may sound, if you haven’t actually set yourself a target in terms of number of meetings with potential donors each week or each month, you are likely to fall at the first hurdle.  As with everything else, setting goals is the first step in actually achieving them. So how many prospect meetings do you want (or need) to have each month? Can you break that down into a weekly target? That will give you an idea of

a) how many prospects you need to be approaching and

b) how much time you need to spend out of the office.

It’s easy to get stuck in the office writing newsletters or donor appeals but unless you actually get out there and ask for money, you’re unlikely to have much success.

Gail Perry has written a great post that gives practical advice on how to actually go about achieving your prospect meeting targets.


2. Use your events to introduce potential donors to your charity

If you already run events, you may want to consider using these to invite potential donors along to hear about your work, as a way to secure prospect meetings. Or better still, your board members may want to invite them along.  Make sure that you make a point of meeting your key prospects at the event, introduce yourself to them, talk about your charity’s aims and objectives and LISTEN to what they have to say.  I’ve written a post about networking if this is out of your comfort zone with some tips on how to manage such a meeting but the priority here is not to ask for money – no way! It’s to have a conversation and listen to what your prospect has to say. Are they interested in hearing more about your charity? Great. Make sure you leave them by asking if you can call their office to make an appointment to meet with them to discuss your goals in more detail – or to ask their opinion. That way, they’re more likely to remember you and, more importantly, to actually put that date in the diary.


3. Ask for referrals

I have written about the importance of using your networks to build your prospect lists before – here, here and here – and this is most effective if you don’t just find out who is within your reach but that you also ask your board, donors and volunteers to make introductions for you to potential donors who may be interested in your work.

Make sure that those prospects are qualified (by doing the CAR test – Capacity, Affinity and Reachability) and ask your contacts if they would make a referral. They don’t have to make the ask if they’re not comfortable with it but would they introduce you and your charity? We are all far more likely to listen to the recommendations of a friend or trusted colleague than to simply take something at face value based on a nice letter or a good website – and this rule applies just as much to fundraising (if not more) as it does for everything else.


4. Make your research count

Before you write to ask for a meeting or send an event invitation, you should know what makes your prospect tick. Not just in terms of the CAR test but building from that you should have a clear idea of:

  • what their interests are – particularly in terms of charitable support
  • what they are passionate about
  • what their affinity is with your cause

Whether they are a high net worth individual or the CEO of a company you’d like to have as a sponsor, you need to know what makes them tick and what motivates their charitable giving and support. That way, you can get your initial ‘pitch’ letter right by stating why you’re inviting them in and what you’d like to talk to them about tailored precisely to their interests.


So my question to you is this:

What are you going to do today to start getting more prospect meetings in the diary for your charity? I’d love to hear so please leave your comments below…


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