How do I get a major donor meeting?

To make a fundraising ask, you first must gain an audience with your major donor. Traditionally, most major donor asks are best in person, however, this process has changed given the current global pandemic. Whether personal or virtual, the basic principles are the same.  

Here are three things you should think about to help you get a meeting with a major donor: 

  1. Know who to ask

Find the gatekeeper. Many major donors have an assistant, scheduler, or designated individual who makes their schedule. The book Rainmaking: The Fundraisers Guide to Landing Big Gifts explains that getting the gatekeeper on your side is essential. They can schedule appointments, decide how long and where the appointments are. If you have a difficult time getting to the gatekeeper, this is an excellent time to bring in your natural partners, who may already know the gatekeeper or personally know your donor.     

  1. Know when to ask

Once you have identified the gatekeeper, learn more about the major donor’s schedule. Are they busier at the end of the quarter or month? Their assistant or scheduler should have a good idea of what could work for a future meeting and give you some clues on what could work long-term. Also, know when to call. Find a time where you know you can catch the gatekeeper. This could be before or after 9 to 5 office hours since many donors keep longer hours.  

  1. Know what to ask 

With the current global pandemic, it is critical to create an environment where your donor will feel comfortable. Talk to the gatekeeper about what your donor has been doing for meetings recently and offer suggestions on modifications you can make. Offer alternatives for both in-person meetings – following the guidelines of your locality – or virtual meetings.  It can be easier to get on the donor’s schedule if you have accounts and links already set up for a virtual meeting.   

Whether in person or virtually, major donor meetings are vital to your organization’s success. Contributions to your organization’s mission is more important than ever. Knowing who, when, and what to ask in order to get the meeting can make the difference as you navigate the donor meeting experience.   

Source: Rainmaking: The Fundraisers Guide to Landing Big Gifts by Roy C. Jones, CFRE and Andrew Olsen, CFRE

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