Who should pay for the meal or coffee when meeting with a donor?

Photo by Jasmic

Meeting with donors is part of the job when working as an Executive Director or Development Director at a nonprofit organization. Organizations that are hip to donor cultivation and have strong donor programs in place, regularly meeting with their major donors to update them on programs and get their thoughts on the direction of an organization.

Now at the end of the meeting, after you both have enjoyed lunch and the check comes, who should pick up that check? Well, everyone does it differently. Some organizations believe that it is the donor’s responsibility to pay since they are a donor. This is where I disagree, when you take a donor to lunch or coffee to update them about your organization, and especially when you are asking for money, you should always offer to pay. Typically, donors won’t want their money to go towards taking themselves or other donors out to eat, so they will insist on taking care of the check, but it shouldn’t be expected that they will.

Kim Klein goes over this and other common questions (like what to wear) in her Getting Major Gifts handout.

So, you can’t afford to have a large amount of money allocated to these meetings for donor cultivation? Well, then be creative. Ask them to coffee (less expensive), ask them to your office and give them a tour, or go to their home. Regardless of how you meet with a donor, what is important is that you meet with them and keep them informed about your organization.

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