Major donors do not give money away. They make investments with people they trust.

Before a donor increases giving to the 5-figure level they usually want to meet with someone. It is about stewardship. Most people who make transformational gifts want to meet to ensure that every dollar they invest in your organization has a real impact.

Don’t get me wrong, there are people who do not want to meet… and they do give money away, usually under $100.

Now, the big question: how do you get the meeting with the big donor?

EMAIL INVITATION TO MEET. Your follow up voicemail or text should mirror the “sample email” below.
• Keep the communications short. Do not get into details. If you give them a lot of details, it sounds like a public service announcement. Keep the voice mail and email short.
• Always make the request about respecting the donor’s time.
• Always explain that you have another meeting in the area. You do not want the donor to believe that you are flying into town or driving across town just to see them. Major donors do not want you wasting money traveling to see them. However, if you are in the area for another meeting, it is good stewardship to meet with you.
• Finally, be transparent about the purpose. If you are not going to ask for money in this meeting, say so.


“I have a meeting with another supporter near (donors’ hometown) on (date). Could we grab a cup of coffee at a restaurant or coffee shop near you? I promise not to keep you long.

I’d just like to thank you in person and hear about your passion for helping others. I could meet December 5th, later in the afternoon, or on December 6 in the morning before noon.

Just email me back and let me know whether you have any time for coffee.



SAMPLE SCRIPT FOR MEETING. Every meeting has an introduction, main conversation, and conclusion. The average meeting lasts only about 45 minutes. If the meeting begins to exceed the one-hour mark, you have been there too long.

I always use the FORM method to guide the conversation: Family, Occupation, Recreation/Recognition, Main Message.

• FAMILY. Ask about their family. Share about yours.
• OCCUPATION. Ask about their business. Talk about the economy. Politics, if appropriate.
• RECREATION. Ask about what they like to do for fun. Share about what you and your family do for hobbies.
• MAIN PURPOSE. Find their passion. What other causes do they support? Why do they support your ministry or nonprofit?
• THANK THEM. Tell a life transformational story from your ministry and thank them again.
• PIVOT TO THE ASK. I usually review what their passion is (based upon what they told me). I then ask them if it would be alright if I went back to the organization and asked them what their biggest need is in the donor’s area of passion. The donor will be excited that you listened and are advocating for them and their cause.

FOLLOW UP is critical. It can be by email, but a second cup of coffee or a ministry tour is the best way to present to a donor their “passion project” based upon your meeting.