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Site Visit Requested: Executing the Visit

 

A successful site visit from a funder could be the difference between having your grant accepted or not. As the brains of the operation, you have already created the plan; as the brawn, your task is to spur your team to success through quality control.


In my last article, I offered tips to select and prepare the right colleagues to join your visit. Below are some simple things you can do to keep your site visit on track and successful:
 
Confirm the details a day or two before with the funder who is visiting. Reaffirm the date and time, offer the exact address and location on-site, and share your office or cell number in case you need to be reached due to a delay or confusion. Furthermore, use this opportunity to ask who will be in attendance, so you can better know your audience.
 
Send out an all-staff email to let colleagues not involved in the visit know that you will be coming through with funders. Encourage big smiles, busyness, and mention any colleagues who you might stop for a brief chat with during the visit. If you work in a large organization, know everyone's name in visit areas, in case you need to make quick shout outs.
 
Make introductions and provide a brief itinerary when your guests arrive. It is best to introduce your team and explain the gist of the visit, to avoid any awkward first interactions.
 
Have a prepped room to land. Ensure there are enough seats and that water and/or coffee is available.
 
Be a timekeeper for the visit. Since you enlisted coworkers to speak on certain aspects of your work and laid out a strict timeline, make sure to keep colleagues on time, within reason. Allow flexibility for inquiry or important points.
 
Keep conversations going. Have several talking points ready in order to prompt colleagues or stir interest around a certain topic from the funder.
 
Intervene when facts are misrepresented if appropriate. Try to keep the most important facts from your plan and proposal straight, even if it means correcting the boss or funder tactfully.
 
Have the details on hand and be ready to use them. Print the full grant, budget, organization financials, program collateral, and any other relevant information to be used as a resource. Be an encyclopedia for your team.
 
Ask about decision timelines. Use your time with a prospective funder to ask when they will decide on the submitted application, and to check-in about funding priorities going forward.
 
Do not be afraid to offer information post visit. Some consider not knowing the answer to a funder's question as a strike against an organization. However, it is appropriate to defer during the meeting and provide information that requires confirmation after the visit.
 
Ensure clarity and comfort. As the creator of the visit plan, you must make sure information presented is clear and that your guests are comfortable. Jump into conversations to clear up points, move the group along to the next topic or tour area, point out the bathroom when you pass by in case anyone needs it, offer water, etc., to keep harmony.
 
Stick to the plan, but be flexible. Time delays, unexpected situations, and more may occur during your visit. Keep on your plan, create a loose back-up of what you will do, where you will meet, or the information you will share in the event the visit gets skewed.
 
Following the site visit, do not forget to send a thank you email.
 
There are many more tips out there to help create a successful site visit. What are some that have worked for you?
 
Michael V. Paul is a Foundation Relations Director at Providence Health & Services in Portland, OR. He has written grants for the past four years, and in another life, was a Program Officer at a small foundation. Aside from work, Michael is an avid soccer-player, coffee-drinker, and reader of books.
 

 

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