The Chanzo is hosting Digital Freedom and Innovation Day on April 20, 2024. Register Here

Close this search box.

Here Is Why You Also Need Intel Gathering Skills For Your Organization’s Deal-Making

Intel gathering is invaluable not only for presidential visits and engagements but also in engaging government or seeking investments

subscribe to our newsletter!

I recently came across a very interesting article by Judd Devermont on Charles Obbo’s X page. Everything about it was so fascinating to me – How the CIA prepares visit pieces for the US presidents with intel on visiting African presidents.

These were handed to US presidents before meetings to inform them of how best to engage the African presidents to “charm, coax and cajole them to advance the US interests. The documents contained details on the leader’s personality, their goals, the context of the meeting – specifically the country’s political, economic, and security situation, warnings (the watch out fors/red flags), and their future outlook.

However, it was as sad as it was fascinating to find out that our African presidents often don’t enjoy the same luxury due to less reporting, fewer intelligent analysts, and a limited number of senior policy interactions.

The article reinforced my strong belief that, above all, we are human first. That for successful engagements even the official ones where dehumanization is often advised – we ought to consider the human dimension. It is as important to know the personal traits of the person who sits across the table in a negotiation as it is knowing or having expertise on the subject matter.

To find out the person’s background, what makes them tick, the red flags, what to watch out for, how they associate with others, how people view them, their hopes and dreams, what they might do if things go against them, who their enemies are, etc.

I think this kind of intel gathering is invaluable not only for presidential visits and engagements but also in several other contexts and I would like to touch on just two that I am familiar with, non-governmental fundraising and engagement with the government.


When we think of funders, we often think of them as impersonal entities. However, these entities are run by people and it’s the people who shape the culture and direction of the organization. Understanding this is crucial when fundraising. Beyond meeting eligibility criteria, it is essential to know your audience – understanding who you are pitching to and what matters to them is key to drafting a compelling pitch that resonates with prospective funders.

This understanding goes beyond the organization’s mission.  You need to find out what the management is like and it becomes especially important if you secure a meeting. Researching the person, you will be meeting can help you determine the best way to engage with them. Your talking points should not only include information about the organization’s technical goals and achievements but also insights into the personal profile of the individual you will be meeting.

Consider their education and professional background, and whether they have interests outside of work. With the digital revolution, this information is readily available through social media, professional profiles, organizational websites, or from peers in your network.

This knowledge will help you strategize, refine your approach, and craft a pitch that is tailored to your audience, knowing what to emphasize and what to avoid. By understanding the individuals behind the funding organizations, you can create more meaningful and effective connections, increasing your chances of successful fundraising.

Government Engagement

When seeking government endorsement or support for your project, understanding the Government authority and the officials you need to engage with is crucial. However, equally important is knowing the internal systems, power dynamics, and entry points within.

Once you identify your point of contact, preparation goes beyond the details of your project or the authority’s priorities. It’s again essential to know your audience. Understand the background of the person you will meet. What motivates them? What do they hope to gain from engaging with you?

 Consider their ambitions, how others perceive them, and what might make them hesitant to support your project. For our type of government, understanding what they fear and why they might be reluctant is key. This may seem like a lot of work, but being well-informed gives you a strategic advantage.

Gathering this intel helps you strategize your approach, including the best time to meet and what topics to emphasize or avoid. You’ll know which buttons to push and which to avoid. This information can be gathered through online research, speeches, newspaper articles, interactions with people who have previously engaged with the targeted government authority, or by listening carefully during your meetings.

During your first meeting, pay attention to what excites your contact and what concerns them. Politicians may not always be entirely forthright, but there will be truths to take from your interactions. Be observant and pick up on non-verbal cues and underlying messages that are not explicitly stated.

By understanding the individuals behind the governmental structures, you can create more effective and meaningful engagements, increasing the likelihood of securing the support and endorsement you need for your project.

Even though Human behavior remains very difficult to predict it is a very important element of human interactions that is often neglected. I think to be able to meaningfully engage – we should have customized visit pieces that put a sharper focus on traits and behaviors for almost every official engagement to enhance communication and lead to more fruitful interactions.

The Author of this article is Entesh Melaisho, Program Officer – Governance, Donor Relations and Futures programs, Twaweza, she is available through mobile +255 (0) 682 081 091. The opinions expressed here are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of The Chanzo. If you are interested in publishing in this space, please contact our editors at

Digital Freedom and Innovation Day
The Chanzo is hosting Digital Freedom and Innovation Day on Saturday April 20, 2024 at Makumbusho ya Taifa.

Register to secure your spot

One Response

  1. I just wish our leaders are cognizant of the points raised in here to help them prepare themselves? More importantly, authorities need to have programs that prepare the public deal makers for the engagements to avoid being driven into a corner, knowingly or unknowingly!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *