Reader Questions: What do you do on a Foundation Site Visit?

Flickr image: Mujalifah

Today we are answering more reader questions! Thanks so much for asking them!

Here’s a tricky one.

When a foundation has offered to visit your program, what do you do with them while they are there? Aside from a tour, what other info do they want presented to them? Do you feed them, or is that considered poor spending….

First, talk with the foundation staff before they come.

Ask them these questions.

1. How do you like to do site visits?

2. Do you generally like to get a tour of staff offices as well as program areas?

3. What has worked well in the past when you’ve done site visits for nonprofits?

4. Do you want a presentation on what our financials are so far this year, how our programs are doing, and other pertinent information, a sort of snapshot on where we’re at?

5. Would you like refreshments served at our site?

6. How do you like to interact with program staff?

7. Would you like to speak only with senior leadership and board members, or would you like to speak to others as well?

8. Do you want to go to our program sites on your own, or would you like staff from our administrative offices to accompany you?

9. Anything else you’d like me to know before you visit our site?

Each foundation is different. We had a site visit from a foundation at one place I used to work at, and they sat in a circle with us in the back office, on our little chairs, since we didn’t have a conference room, and they sat and chatted with us about how the programs were going, and they smiled at us. They liked what they saw.

In another place I worked at, they wanted  our board chair there, and our executive director, and I served them water, but hadn’t really thought if I should have more food or not. We gave them annual reports and the print edition of our latest newsletter. The fact that my boss was late to the meeting didn’t sit well with them. They did an unsupervised tour of our program sites. We still got our money, but less than the previous year.

So, some things you can control, some things you can’t control. There’s a lot that you could try to do right, but if you don’t ask the right questions, you won’t know what they want.

That’s why asking questions is WAY more important than any advice I could give you here. Who knows what their expectations are? Who knows what their program staff want? There’s only one way to find out. And that’s to ASK.

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