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Knowing how to “get inside the mind of a donor” and understand the reasons why they give can be one of the most valuable things you can do as a fundraising professional. However, just because it’s vitally important doesn’t mean it’s tremendously complicated.

Last week, I had the opportunity to dive into the topic of revealing donor interests as part of our monthly webinar series. As a follow up, I wanted to share a few ways you can effectively identify your donors’ reason for giving.

How To: Identify Your Donors’ Reason for Giving

If you want to effectively engage donors in a way that helps you understand their passions and enables you to upgrade their giving, here are a few things you should do:

1. Make it feel like a natural conversation. Your goal is revealing your donor’s reasons for giving, their passions and interests.  You want to be listening more than you are talking.  Ideally they are talking 70% of the time. Be sensitive to their boundaries as well as your own.  Try using words like “serve”, “partner”, “faithful, and “generous”.

2. Ask the Right Questions. It can be tempting to ask questions in a way that still feels like you’re leading donors to give. Instead, your goal in asking questions is to discover more information about them rather than the other way around.

Here are just a few examples of questions you can ask to identify a donor’s reason for giving:

  •   Why does this cause matter to you?  Why now in particular?
  •  How do you feel when you make a gift?
  •  What do you hope to achieve with your philanthropy?
  • What are the most critical results you expect our organization to produce?
  • What interests you most about organization? Why? What is less interesting to you? Why?

3. Learn how to ask “the second question.” Asking these kinds of questions is a good start, but asking the second question is what enables you to take the relationship deeper and really dive into the interests of you donors. Probe by asking follow up questions like, “Tell me more about that…”, “How did that come about?” or “Can you give me an example of what you mean?”

Want to learn more about revealing donors’ interest and upgrade their giving?

Your time with donors is a precious commodity. If you want to learn how to make the most of it, check out a replay of last week’s webinar. You might also be interested in our resource, “In the Mind of the Donor.” Whatever you do, remember that asking the right questions is the most essential for building relationships with your donors and upgrading their giving.

What are some questions in your arsenal when it comes to engaging donors?