The Ins and Outs of Writing Profiles
2. Gather your facts
What facts do you already know, and what else can you gather on your own?
3. Get your questions together
Good questions are open-ended, ask how and why, trigger emotions, and follow up on things already noted. Some sample questions Miller suggested for clients include:
- What's it like to be a client?
- If you weren't here, what would you be doing instead, or what would your life be like?
- What's the best/worst thing to happen since …?
- When people find out you come here, what do they say or ask you?
- Tell me about someone who has influenced you in some way since you've been here.
Good questions for donors include:
- What's your first memory of [your organization]...
- What has surprised you most about …
- What do you wish other people knew about ...
- Why are you supporting us as opposed to other groups?
- What might (someone) be surprised to know about you?
Questions for volunteers might be:
- What was your first impression of the organization?
- What do you find most challenging about volunteering here?
- Tell me about some of the people you've met while volunteering.
- What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering?
- How would (someone) describe you?
Examples of follow-up questions include:
- What else can you tell me?
- What makes you say that?
- How do you know that?
- Why do you feel that way?
- Can you give me an example?
- Has that ever happened before (or since)?
- How would you respond to someone who disagrees with you about that?
All-out bad questions to ask are those that can be answered in one or two words, delve into too much personal history, or focus on facts about the cause rather than the person and how she feels about the cause.
4. Find the “nut,” i.e., the heart of the story
The true heart of the story most likely won’t be apparent at first but rather will emerge during the interview. Don’t conduct the interview like the interviewee is in the "hot seat." Start with some small talk, and listen.