Meeting with a Potential Partner


Click here for the PDF version of this tip sheet



Before getting into the specifics of HOW to meet with a potential partner, it is helpful to understand the reasons WHY organizations partner with non-profit organizations. They want to: 


  • Have access to high quality programs and services
  • Make a difference in the lives of others
  • Improve their community
  • Increase awareness of the company or its products
  • Reach a market segment
  • Differentiate their organization from their competition
  • Express commitment to the community or a specific group
  • Receive recognition and be identified with a good cause
  • Enhance relationships with their constituents
  • Accomplish business objectives in a cost-effective manner
  • Enhance their image and credibility
  • Improve the company’s bottom line




  • Research the community by completing a Community Assessment
  • Research the potential partner and find out about their other programs and partnerships (see How to Research a Potential Partner tip sheet and Collaboration Worksheet. )
  • Be able to explain the benefits of the partnership to the potential partner. ( See Selling Points and AF Program Advantages reference sheets.)
  • Structure your proposal simply and in tiered levels. Aim high from the beginning
  • Call the day before to re-confirm the appointment and the location
  • Rehearse your presentation
  • Dress appropriately in business attire
  • You may only get one chance, so be ready to give it everything you have!


STEP 1: OPEN- Lower their resistance


  • Thank them for meeting with you. For example:

    • Thank you for taking the time to speak to me today about the benefits of offering Arthritis Foundation programs to your members/ constituents.
    • Thank you for allowing me to show you how the AF programs can help you meet your mission.

  • Use small talk to your advantage.  People like to talk about themselves and relate better to others they know and like. 
  • Comment on any link that the individual or company has with arthritis.


STEP 2: INVESTIGATE- Ask questions


  • Follow up to learn more about the potential partner and its needs and interests. Avoid unnecessary questions by doing your homework. Listen to the answers. Questions might include:

    • What are your priority objectives?
    • What problems, difficulties or dissatisfaction are you experiencing related to your priority objectives? (You can also refer to a situation that you know is relevant to the organization.)
    • What are the consequences of these problems? For example, what are the effects on constituent/ member satisfaction, quality of life, health care costs, etc.?
    • What do you look for when deciding on programs?
    • What are examples of other hat partnership experiences that you've had? What worked? What didn't work?
    • If you could design the perfect program- related partnership, what would it look like and provide your organization with? What characteristics do you look for in organizations that you partner with?
    • What kinds of partnerships might you be interested in? What type of partnership would you consider at this time?
    • What would we need to bring to the table to make this work?
    • What is your budget cycle?




  • Demonstrate your capacity to meet their needs and concerns.
  • Review the potential partner’s key interests, needs or objectives. For example, their interests might include decreasing health care costs, promoting their visibility in the community, reducing disability, etc.
  • Present your solution, including the benefits and features of the AF programs in relation to the prospect’s issues. For example, with an organization interested in managing health care costs, point out that the AF Self-Help Program has been shown to reduce physician visits.
  • See the How to Handle Objections tip sheet for other useful ideas.




  • Make the ask, and obtain a commitment or agreement on the next step. For example, ask:

    • “Now that you have an overview of AF programs, would this be of interest to you and your organization?”
    • “Can I count on your help in getting these programs delivered through your agency?”
    • “Who else would you recommend I speak to within your organization about these programs?”
    • “Based on everything we have discussed, how would AF programs fit into your current marketing, community relationships and constituent activities?

  • See: the Art of Asking box for additional tips


Here are a few tricks of the trade to help you get a “yes” in response to your ask every time.

  • Be confident.  Do not be ashamed to ask for help in reaching and improving the quality of life for the 46 million individuals diagnosed with arthritis.
  • Remain silent after you make the ask.  As in business situations, giving the potential partner the first opportunity to respond will increase the likelihood that you’ll receive a positive response.
  • Aim high, but have a list of secondary asks.  Do not leave without getting something such as:
  • Meetings with organization decision makers and/or implementation staff to plan how to deliver the AF programs
  • Meeting room space
  • Marketing/ promotional help to recruit instructors and/or class participants
  • Referral to someone else who might be interested
  • A promise to come to AF programs as guest
  • Help promoting AF programs at other locations to constituents if they are not ready to offer programs at their own facilities
  • Develop a plan of action, and gain agreement on the next step: “Let’s plan on calling a planning group together next week.  Can you help us pull together the people who need to be involved?”
  • Ask how and when you can follow up.
  • Leave appropriate materials, such as a proposal, more detailed program information or other materials relevant to your discussion. See the Leave-Behind Materials Checklist
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