Donor management software is not just for managing mail and telephone correspondence. Analytics data can help nonprofits identify major prospective donors, and a CRM platform can manage notes from phone conversations with key prospects. Both tools help charitable organization representatives prepare for one of the most important steps toward securing funds: Meeting with a major potential supporter.
Identifying your prospects
Knowing who to call isn't a simple matter of brainstorming a list of potential large-capacity donors. Before soliciting a meeting, nonprofits need to take the time to thoroughly research each and every one of their prospective supporters, said Margaret King at Fundraising Success Magazine. Doing so gives a realistic understanding of a donor's capacity, and also elucidates common goals between organization and prospect. Such research informs the tenor of the meeting, and a keeps a representative from pushing for too much or asking for too little. Background knowledge also enables a nonprofit to request the right kind of help – that is, what areas of need are most pertinent to the potential supporter's interests? These are all key points that can be easily handled with donation software, such as StudioCRM.
Securing the meeting
Broaching initial contact with a major donor prospect can be nerve wracking. It's easy to worry that, if an email isn't perfectly crafted or a phone conversation isn't effectively framed, a request for an in-person meeting will be turned down.
One of the most failsafe approaches, according to Gail Perry, is to invite a prospect for an advice visit. The first step in active donor engagement, an advice visit, is exactly when it sounds like – reaching out to the possible donor to ask for input on how best to carry out an organization's mission and values. It's a genuine means of listening to those who are likely to provide aid, and it establishes respect before building a long-term relationship.
Participating in the conversation
The best part about an advice visit is that nonprofit representatives don't need to prepare a detailed list of questions and selling points. Instead, the prospective donor will steer the conversation, which should provide plenty of material for follow-up notes that can be managed by CRM tools.
"The meeting is a collaboration toward enacting a greater good."
The nonprofit representative should still expect to do a small amount of talking, but it will be in the form of responding to the prospect's conversational lead. By listening to what information the potential donor volunteers, the charity's delegate can figure out how much to ask for, when to seek it and how to prompt it. In other words, allowing the likely supporter to talk first mitigates the risk of making a request out-of-turn.
Most important, Perry reminded, is that an advice meeting does not treat potential donors as simple cash sources but instead recognizes connection to a fellow human. The meeting should essentially be a collaboration toward enacting a greater good.
After the meeting, it's important to send a prompt a thank-you note, or show appreciation through a phone call. It's critical to recognize and respect the time a potential donor has given to conversing about a cause. Even if a major prospect decides not to immediately donate, demonstrating gratitude keeps future channels open.