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Asking someone to donate money can feel scary and intimidating to a lot of people.  On the other hand, spending quality time with another person to learning what they are most passionate about and how they’d most like to change the world sounds like a lot of fun!  The good news is the vast majority of face-to-face fundraising is about doing just that – spending time with generous people and learning what matters to them.

Last week I was chatting with my friend’s brother in law, a dermatologist, at a birthday party who sees as many as 75 patients a day.   He shared that key to his success, in addition to having a great team of course, is building rapport and trust with his patients as quickly as possible and then finding out concerns and their goals.

Imagine his surprise when I said, “Wow, me too!  I’m a fundraiser.”

Your donors time is valuable… but so is yours.

People have the greatest anxiety about the ask but the truth is all the heavy lifting comes in the cultivation.  The ask is the easy part and the shortest.  It only takes a few moments to ask but the cultivation leading up to it could take weeks, months or even years.

Years?  You probably don’t feel like you have years.  You also aren’t paid to be a professional visitor.  You have limited time and a full caseload of donors.  You’d probably be shocked to learn how little time you actually have.  We all start out with 365 days in a year, but when you subtract weekends, holidays, PTO and organizational business meetings you are left with only 18 days a month to actually spending time on the phone or in person with your donors.

That’s not a lot of time!  You have to be extremely strategic.

5 Important Questions that Reveal a Donor’s Interest

 How do you make every second count?  You must ask strategic questions.  Here are 5 of my favorite questions to ask a donor:

  1. What motivated you to make your first gift to us?
  2. What is the most satisfying philanthropic gift you ever made and why?
  3. Which of the agencies you support do they best job of keeping you involved in their mission?  How?
  4. If you could change the world, what would you do?
  5. What legacy do you want to have?  Can you finish it alone?

Going into the visit, be extremely conscious of what you want the donor to feel and know about your organization.  Be equally thoughtful about what you want to learn about the donor.   Finally, always have a next step!  Whether it’s inviting them to an event, submitting a proposal, giving them a private tour, or setting up a visit with the CEO or board chair, ask their permission and take the next step.

What’s your favorite question to ask to reveal a donor’s interest?