How to write an email that will land you that first prospect meeting

Whether you’re requesting meetings off-site or you’re inviting a prospect to your organization for a special activity or tour, email is often the go-to means of communication.

Though email as an outreach tool is ubiquitous and commonplace, ensuring its effectiveness takes a level of time and commitment. Here are six tips (with examples!) to ensure your chances of receipt and response.

Tip 1: Plan ahead

Particularly when you are scheduling an introductory meeting with a donor or prospect, it is important to allow enough time for the recipient to respond and/or for you to follow up.

Example: Identify the date of your travel or special event and send your initial outreach at least two weeks prior. Follow up one week later if you haven’t received a response.  (More on this in Tip 6.)

Tip 2: Include critical details in the subject line

Think about how you check your inbox. Do you scan subject lines for content? Check to see if you recognize the sender? Prioritize by deadline? Use this to your advantage and incorporate critical details in the subject line, such as your institution’s name, the donor’s location, and relevant dates.

Example: “Organization Name Visiting Austin – October 12 & 13″

Tip 3: Keep it short and to the point

Perhaps you caught the recipient’s attention with your subject line and they opened your email.  Don’t squander your opportunity with lengthy, flowery text.  Use the body of your email for a concise explanation of your outreach.

Example: “Dear Mr. Smith,

I hope this note finds you well.  Next month, specifically on October 12th and 13th, I will be in Austin meeting with [organization] [constituency].  Are you available for lunch or coffee while I am in town?  I would be pleased to share an update from campus and to thank you for your loyal support.

Thank you,
Jen”

Tip 4: Use formatting to highlight critical points

Repeat critical information from your subject line in the body of your email and use formatting, such as bold type, to draw your reader’s attention there. However, a word of caution: use formatting sparingly.  Too much formatting will distract your reader from the detail you are trying to emphasize.

Example: “Dear Mr. Smith,

I hope this note finds you well.  Next month, specifically on October 12th and 13th, I will be in Austin meeting with [organization] [constituency].  Are you available for lunch or coffee while I am in town?  I would be pleased to share an update from campus and to thank you for your loyal support.

Thank you,
Jen”

Tip 5: Triple check the variables

Often, especially when planning introductory meetings in another state, you will need to send 30 or 40 emails to secure an average of three meetings per day. As you get into an outreach groove, do not become complacent with the details.  Triple check the personalized components of your note: name, dates, location, constituency, availability, giving history (these personalized components are underlined in the below example). You’ve worked hard to grab your reader’s attention; the last thing you want to do is communicate conflicting information, or worse, upset them by making a mistake.

Example: “Dear Mr. Smith,

I hope this note finds you well.  Next month, specifically on October 12th and 13th, I will be in Austin meeting with [organization] [constituency].  Are you available for lunch or coffee while I am in town?  I would be pleased to share an update from campus and to thank you for your loyal support.

Thank you,
Jen”

Tip 6: Follow up

Still no response?  Follow up.  Specifically, “reply” to your initial email so it is clear that you are following up on your original correspondence. Keep your follow-up message short and to the point.

Example: “RE: Organization Name Visiting Austin – October 12 & 13.

Dear Joe,

I wanted to follow up regarding my upcoming trip to Austin.  I still have some availability on Tuesday afternoon, October 12, if you would like to connect.

Thank you again for your support of [organization].  I look forward to hearing from you.

Best,
Jen”

Jen Herrmann is Vice President at Graham-Pelton.

All Services

Fundraising Strategy

  • Annual giving
  • Planned giving
  • Principal and major gifts
  • Risk assessment

Campaigns

  • Planning studies
  • Campaign strategy and counsel
  • Campaign assessments and audits
  • Communications
  • Coaching

Attraction and Retention

  • Donor relations
  • Alumni relations
  • Grateful patient programs
  • International scoping
  • Member relations

Organizational Effectiveness

  • Operational assessments
  • Talent assessments and development
  • Training and engagement
  • Interim staffing

Business Intelligence

  • Prospect profiling
  • Database optimization
  • Wealth screening and analysis
  • Fundraising metrics

 

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close