What You Should and Shouldn’t Do When Meeting With a Philanthropy Donor

A non-profit organization needs to rely on donors if it is to be successful, but meeting with those prospective donors can be daunting. It’s easy for a novice to say or do the wrong thing and lose a potentially valuable donation during this process, so here are just a few things that you should and should not do when meeting with donors.

Do Your Homework

Before you meet with a prospective donor, familiarize yourself with them as much as possible. Most organizations and individuals who are willing to make a large charitable donation most likely have a history that can be studied with a few Google searches, so you have no excuse for not knowing anything about them. Learn what their organization stands for if they have one, what kinds of causes they’ve donated to in the past, and anything else you think might be useful. Be careful about going into too much personal history about an individual though; you don’t want to come across as a stalker or someone who will bring up uncomfortable information during your meeting.

Leave For Your Meeting Early

Never assume that things will go perfectly for you when you leave for any meeting. Getting stuck in traffic because of an accident or bad weather could easily make you late, which is one of the worst things that can happen when you are going to a meeting with a potential donor. Give yourself 15 to 30 minutes of extra time when you leave for your meeting, especially if you’re going someplace that is unfamiliar. Just try not to be too early for your meeting. Having to wait about ten minutes in a lobby is one thing, but if you’re a whole half hour early, either go someplace else to wait so you don’t come off as too eager and desperate.

Know What You Want, But Be Flexible

You should have an idea of what kind of donation you want for your meeting before you go in, and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for that. On the other hand, you should also be flexible and be willing to compromise. Even if you don’t get the donation you wanted, a smaller donation is better than nothing at all. Don’t just as for any donation, though. Not putting an amount on what you need will just tell your donor that you don’t care enough about your cause and could cause you to walk away with an amount that really isn’t worth your time. In other words, be prepared to negotiate.

Following Your Donor Dollars: How the Money You Donate is Spent

Something catastrophic happens in the world and your first reaction is to want to help by whatever means you can. Most often, this means donating money to a relief fund or nonprofit organization so that front line work can happen at the location of the tragedy. Once the dollars leave your plastic card in your wallet, do you know exactly where they go? The truth is, there’s a lot more to the path than a direct flight from your pocket to the scene of the disaster.

Separating Emotion from Thought

Sometimes it can be difficult to separate thinking from emotion during traumatic times. People most often relate to others in hard times through sympathy and empathy, which are not tied to cerebral brain function. Conversely, investing money has lots to do with practical thought. Before you donate, do your best to take a second for critical analysis of whichever charity or vessel your money will travel through to get to the people who need it. “Is this organization healthy and functional? Does their mission resonate with me on a deep level?” If both of these questions are answered with the affirmative, proceed to donate your heart out.

Undesignated Funds for the Win

Pro tip: If given the option, let your donation stay undesignated rather than choosing a specific job for it. For example, if there are multiple projects as options for donating and another pool that says the foundation can do as they see fit with the money, choose the latter. By entrusting your donation to the organization, they can direct it toward whichever program is in the highest demand at that moment. Allowing this freedom means that your dollar will go as far as it possibly can.

Advantages to Donating Money vs. Supplies

Once the organization receives your money, it is turned into a grant and utilized for project purposes. Often, especially if you allowed your donation to stay unrestricted, your dollar goes a lot further than it would if you had spent it and donated physical supplies. Nonprofits and charities often get special discounts at stores that allow them to purchase much needed supplies cheaply in bulk so that they can be re-packaged and distributed to people that need them.

Thanks to people like you, victims of tragedies can get the support they need following an unfortunate event. By understanding the process of donation, you maximize your contribution.