The One Question to Ask Your Major Donor
Do you know the one question to ask your major donor that, when answered, will unlock everything you want to know about that donor?
It is this: When was the last time you experienced joy in giving a gift?
The answer to that question and the follow-up to their answers will give you all the information you need to help fulfill the donor’s desire to change the world through your organization.
And it all starts with joy!
Think about it. Here is what you will uncover:
- You’ll find out how they have been treated in the past to experience that joy.
- They will be telling you exactly what brings them joy.
- They will tell you what they are passionate about and why.
- They will lead you through the entire process of giving the gift of what created that joy.
- They will tell you what type of impact they want to make on the world.
- They will give you good information on how they were thanked and appreciated.
- You will know what programs and projects your organization runs that matches their passion and brings them joy.
Having a face-to-face meeting or even a meeting on the phone with a donor gives you the opportunity to connect with that donor. Most likely, it took you a lot of time and effort to actually have this meeting. So, make the most of it!
Not only do you want great information, but also you want the donor to leave that meeting thinking, “Wow, they really want to know me. They are interested in me... they care about me.”
Most major gift officers don’t ask this question. I often hear from major gift fundraisers who first ask a donor, “What do you want to accomplish with your philanthropy?” Ugh. That just lacks soul in my opinion.
Asking a donor when they experienced joy in giving a gift leads them to tell you a story that will conjure up a great feeling in the donor. It’s also a unique question that the donor will not expect because the whole conversation leads with focusing on them—not on the organization, not on you. And to tell you the truth, we are a “me-first” society. So, the donor may be shocked that you lead with that question.
After that joy question and all the follow-up to the donor’s answer, you will have all you need to take the conversation and the relationship further. Everything else is in the details.
What you take away from the answer to your joy question will help you care for your donor in a way that no other organization will consider.
If you’re skeptical, just ask a colleague the same question. Read their face when they give an answer. Listen to their story. You will see it and hear it.
In your next donor visit, ask the “joy” question. You will be amazed what you find out.
Jeff Schreifels is the principal owner of Veritus Group — an agency that partners with nonprofits to create, build and manage mid-level fundraising, major gifts and planned giving programs. In his 32-plus year career, Jeff has worked with hundreds of nonprofits, helping to raise more than $400 million in revenue.