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.
Strategic questions are powerful in gaining knowledge and furthering a relationship. Ask questions that lead to the magical one in return, "How can I help?"
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.