Ask Questions to Get to the Magical Fundraising Question
I want to make a difference. How can I help?
The most effective fundraising program is geared to deepening a donor relationship where the donor expresses these thoughts. The donor, in essence, self-identifies to make a gift.
For this to happen, there really needs to be a history of conversation — a history of engagement.
So, to get donors to ask the magic question, "How can I help?" you need to be asking questions of them. This is especially true with major gifts — but a program of any type and gifts of any level can and should involve the opportunity for interaction and for self-identification.
By continually asking donors questions, you become a better organization and you have a barometer on how you are doing. Questions such as:
- What values are most important to you?
- What attributes have made you successful?
- Can you tell me about your career?
- Can you tell me about your children? Grandchildren?
- How did you meet your spouse/partner?
- Who have been your mentors?
- What organizations are most important to you? Why?
- What are the most important things to you?
- What legacy would you like to leave?
- How did you first get involved?
- Why did you make your first donation to us?
- How do you describe us to your friends?
- What do you think about (project or proposal)?
- How can we be more effective?
- In what ways would you most like to be involved?
- How can we best communicate with you?
- Is there anyone in your family (or business) that you would like to see involved?
When you ask these questions, and more, you have to listen. Just like when making a gift request. Stop talking. Listen. Let the donor process. Ask follow-up questions to clarify.
And if the question you asked leads to action — be sure you follow up. Acknowledge the conversation in some form such as a thank-you or a follow-up with the information that the donor requested.
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.