Don't Be Afraid to Ask Questions
Children ask a lot of questions. They are inquisitive. Then as people grow older, many of us (but not all for sure) begin to be more reserved in what we ask. What we ask of and what we ask for.
Many of us as children would not be timid in asking for something for ourselves, but as we grow older we become timid even in asking someone to experience the joy of giving to a worthy cause.
When we ask questions — and listen — we learn. If we ask the right questions of prospective donors, we build a stronger relationship and learn if indeed our cause, our project is a match. And when we ask questions, it also serves as an invitation for donors to ask questions of us — a real conversation. A dialogue.
Sometimes things are not as they seem, so asking questions helps discern more information. Board members need to know to ask questions to sometimes dig a bit deeper. Staff members need to ask questions to clarify expectations or circumstances.
And we especially need to ask questions when engaging in conversation about a potential gift. We need to discern:
- If we have the right leaders involved in the ask
- If our potential donor sees the organization as a priority
- If the potential donor sees the project suggested as a priority
- What family or business factors might be impacting a gift decision
- What the best timing of a gift and a gift decision is for the donor
- What the right level might be — a stretch, but appropriate
Asking questions is vital in the fundraising world, so don't be afraid to ask questions and have real dialogue with colleagues and donors.
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.