at 2:45 – That means she said YES, when sh could’ve said no.  That means she mad a plan when sh could’ve just blown you off. So that means it is no longer her job to make her like you.  IT IS YOUR JOB NOT TOMESS IT UP!

You got it, the first meeting with that major donor your director asked for. Because you are so efficient, other than a scan through your donor database and their giving history, you have not done too much “homework” on the donor. Now you need to educate yourself. Not too much though. Regardless how long this donor has been affiliated with your organization, this is your first “date”. No one wants to be told their story; people want to share their story.

So research social media, and Google their name to become familiar. If you find something of mutual interest, make sure you can carry a conversation. For example, if you recognize a lot of pictures of their dog: do you recognize the breed; do you own a dog and what breed; is their dog an award winner; etc.?

This first meeting is about building a relationship. So as your heartbeat speeds up, your mouth gets dry, hands get clammy walking into your first meeting with this Major Donor (or potential Major Donor), just remember C.H.I.P. I am not talking about an 80’s sitcom about the California Highway Patrol. This C.H.I.P or E.-C.H.I.P. is for Environment (non-verbal), Connection, History, Involvement, and Permission/ Plans.

Use this acronym to get through that first meeting with a donor and make sure you learn about that donor and their role (or desired role) with you organization. This first meeting is not about the money, it is about securing your foundation with the donor. Like Hitch said, they said “yes”, don’t mess it up.

Here is some suggested questions/ content based on E-CHIP.

E – Environment (non-verbal)

  • Where are you meeting – Office/ House/ Restaurant
  • Why was this place chosen and by who? Is this a favorite?
  • If home or office, what is displayed (Hobbies, family, awards, recognition, books)
  • Appearance – professional, casual, distinctive

C – Connection

  • How did they connect with the organization (Friend, cause, use, need)
  • What attracted them (Person, story, mission)
  • What interests them currently (project, mission, person)
  • What decided their gift (amount)
  • Professional background
  • Family Background
  • Why they agreed to the meeting

H – History of giving

  • How long have they supported the organization?
  • Types of organizations they support (get specific)
  • Family, professional history of giving
  • Civic organizations they belong to (Churches, Rotary, etc)

I – Involvement

  • Leadership roles with organizations
  • Roles with civic or professional organizations
  • Family roles with organizations (spouse involvement)
  • Who else is involved in ‘giving’ decisions

P – Plans/ Permissions

  • Permission for contact
    • Preferred method of contact
  • Requested interaction
  • Possible referral
  • Planned next step

Now don’t keep this to yourself, put it in your donor database and debrief with a colleague, and send a Thank You note, touching on take-a-way.

If you want to learn more about proven and professional engagement techniques, PB&J marComm can put together training specific to you and/or your organization.


1st Meeting, Let the C.H.I.P.s fall
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