Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Donor marketing: Just one thing

When I was managing an MFI, something I struggled with was donor marketing. Okay - let's be honest. What I struggled with was getting new donor funding. A colleague of mine operating in another country seemed to have no trouble, however. Donors funded him on a regular basis. Finally, I swallowed my pride and asked him what his secret was.

He talked to them.

Yes, it was that simple. On a quarterly or bi-annual basis he'd make an appointment, sit down with the donor, tell him or her what his MFI was doing and then ask what was happening in the donor world. Invariably, when funding came available for microfinance, they would think of him and his MFI.

Should you fear that your sales skills aren't good enough to "shmooze" a donor, let me tell you that neither were my colleague's. He's not a "shmoozer", not a smooth salesperson by any means. What he is, however, is open, honest, and in general a very nice person.

You don't need glitzy sales skills to have a successful donor meeting. What you need is a genuine passion for your MFI, understanding of your environment (donors want to hear about your challenges too), and the ability to tell your MFI's story: the facts, the figures, trials and successes.

Donors want to meet with you. Sometimes it seems that their whole job is to have meetings - trust me, they won't mind spending thirty minutes with you. They'll be happy to be able to report upward on what they learned about your MFI and the industry in your region.

Action item:
Write out a short agenda for a donor meeting. What will you tell them about your MFI? The state of the industry? Now, pick up the phone and make some appointments!

1 comment:

  1. Donor meetings are highly beneficial. There are some organizations who keep hosting "donor parties" and "donor gatherings" to share information but actually to keep a watch on the funding channels. But to manage this, organizations need to be based in capital cities of their countries. Again a bias against those who are remotely located and cannot afford to organize such meetings.