Mel and Pearl Shaw

By Mel and Pearl Shaw

            Fundraising requires more than a little TLC. By that we mean more than “tender loving care.” We’re talking about teamwork, leadership and communication. This TLC has many forms, one of them being meetings.

We recently received a request from a reader wanting to know how to get the most impact from meetings with her supervisor.

“Each week, I am given full responsibility for what is discussed,” she said. “It is the one opportunity where I have my supervisor’s undivided attention and think I should be more strategic in our discussion.”

We were glad to receive the question and as we discussed the topic between the two of us, we realized that our suggestions could apply to our reader’s situation and to meetings in general.

When it comes to fundraising there should be a lot of meetings. It’s a sign that people are busy cultivating, soliciting and stewarding gifts. That staff, board members and volunteers are creating partnerships, planning for events, or exploring grant opportunities. Successful fundraising should have a lot of moving parts and that means meeting with others to ensure successful coordination. To put it in plain English, you don’t want to be stumbling over each other as you raise funds for your nonprofit.

Here are our suggestions for how to get the most out of your fundraising meetings. While the suggestions are primarily focused on meetings with a supervisor, they can be adapted for meetings with a corporate partner, a university president, or campaign chair.

            Before the meeting. In advance, know how much time is allocated to the meeting. Ask if anyone else will be attending. If you think someone else should participate, make the suggestion. Most importantly craft a draft agenda and send it to your supervisor in advance.

            Plan for a successful meeting. Here are suggestions for your agenda. (1) Highlights of your last meeting, including status of action items; (2) a progress report summarizing your accomplishments for the week; (3) your priorities for the coming week and how each ties to the goals of the department or organization/institution; (4) include time to review people your supervisor has met with over the past week – you want to know who are the prospective donors you should follow up with; (5) talk about outstanding items and get these resolved as quickly as possible; (6) try to ensure items don’t carry over from one week to the next; (7) always communicate where you are in relation to your fundraising goals and how you are advancing the organization’s fundraising plan; (8) leave time for open discussion, and end with agreement regarding next steps.

            Conversations and questions. During the meeting, you want to clearly communicate your progress and challenges. Consider including the following during your conversation: (1) one new thing learned this week; (2) trends seen developing; and (3) things of concern. Ask questions. If you don’t have direct access to fundraising data always ask, “How are we progressing toward the annual goal?” You need to know this information. Consider asking, “Is there anything I need to be aware of that can impact fundraising in a positive or challenging way?” Most importantly, ask for whatever it is you need to do your job well. Always ask, “How am I doing?” Share collateral under development or collateral that underscores points you are trying to make. Share quantitative information such as number of new suspects/prospects identified; number of suspects qualified; and number of calls, solicitations, gifts, moves, or declines. Never make excuses. Always send meeting minutes by end of day.

            Set yourself up for success. If you don’t yet have a weekly meeting set with your supervisor, we hope you can get one set up. You don’t want to be surprised by a negative job evaluation and the organization doesn’t want to be surprised by unmet revenue goals.


            Send your questions to For more fundraising and nonprofit management suggestions, visit When you are ready to work with fundraising counsel, call us at (901) 522-8727.