When a prospective donor agrees to meet with you, you’re already halfway to securing their gift. Why? Because they know why you asked to meet with them, and they wouldn’t have accepted the meeting if there was no possibility of a contribution being made.
After the meeting is set, it’s the next step that’s critical to the success of your gift request. Unfortunately, this is where all too many fundraisers get it wrong.
The meeting is about listening, not talking.
When we meet with a potential donor, we often feel compelled to pile on the data: statistics on how many people we’ve helped, how many lives we’ve changed, how long we’ve been doing such important work—and the list goes on. Meanwhile, we’re not learning why the potential donor is interested in our organization, what is important to them about our work, or their unique motivation for supporting our cause. When meeting with donors try to talk LESS THAN HALF THE TIME—and spend more time listening.
How do we get the prospective donor talking? By asking powerful questions.
One of the best ways to make a deep connection is to ask a series of powerful questions. A powerful question is one that immediately gets the donor thinking about their connection to your organization and causes them to reflect on what it is about you and your work that matches their values and beliefs. When the conversation is centered around these questions, you will very quickly move into a space where a donor can feel inspired, not cajoled.
Questions for a prospective donor:
- How did you first hear about us?
- What is it about our work that most interests you?
- What kind of gifts do you find most meaningful when you give to an organization?
- I know you support many important organizations. What is it that you look for when choosing to give?
- What more can I share with you about our organization?
Questions for a current donor:
- What first connected you to this organization?
- You are involved with so many great organizations. What is it about this organization’s work that keeps you engaged?
- If you were to share with a friend one thing about why you give to us, what would you tell them?
- Tell me about a time you made a gift that had great meaning and provided great satisfaction. What was it about that gift that made it so meaningful?
- You give to many important causes. Where do we fall on your list of philanthropic priorities? (If you are not number one, ask: What could we do that might move us higher on your priority list?)
- What do you think would be the impact on this community if our organization ceased to exist?
These questions keep the conversation focused on the donor, and remind them (out loud) of what’s important to them and how their values and priorities align with your organization. Also, their responses can provide valuable information for future donor communications and public marketing messages that speak to “the why” of people supporting your work.
If you want to improve your fundraising results with more successful donor outreach activities, let’s talk. I have a few powerful questions that will help us do just that.