Listen, think, then answer

Listen, think, then answer

Replacing Some Dumb ?Trending Topics? for Some Real Information

Have you seen any of the topics below recently?

  •   It?s all about the relationship development;
  •   it is important to create a donor-centric approach;
  • providing constant rich and engaging  content to bring in donors and attract new people to your organization;
  •  create a culture of philanthropy.

Supposedly these are key areas the fundraisers need to focus on to raise the funds necessary for the organization to deliver its mission. But, what does each of these things mean? It is easy to toss around jargon, it is another to know what to actually do and say.

Maybe a Different Approach?

I like open ended questions that allow the person to tell you something meaningful about this relationship you have or are building, what they seek as a donor and what they look for in communications from you.

1. What brings you here today?

  •  Are they seeking information or resources from themselves or someone close to them?
  •   Is there something you offer that they want or need?
  •  Is this general interest or is there a particular reason they have contacted you?

This starts you off listening to what they are looking for or need, and provides a context for your further conversation.  Listening first and talking later is a strong way to begin a conversation.

 2. Why have you chosen to consider a gift to us?

This question is about you, why you? Are there other organizations that do similar things, so how come your organization is being selected?What are you doing right? 

This may also reveal what about your work has made you stand out for this donor, and where their interests in your programs will lie. That will allow you to tailor your conversations around their areas of focus.

3. What information will you need to make the decision?

  • What will make you feel good about making the donation?
  •  Who else is part of this choice?
  •  Do you have any expectations that come along with this gift?

These questions can provide some additional clarity about how the donor will decide to give and perhaps, how much. Knowing what information and who else is involved will help you be sure your conversation provides them with what they need to choose you.

 4. What is your timeline?

 This is such an easy one, yet frequently goes unasked. The answer may not be what you expect; the gift may be planned for right now, or not right now. Don?t count your chickens, and all that?..

5. What would you like to have happen next?

 In sales, this is the close: it isn’t aggressive toward your donor as if your hand is out waiting for the check;it also  allows you to find out if there are any still yet un-discussed issues or hesitations. This question also provides for dignity and ownership of the conversation for you both.

 Imagine yourself on the other side of this chat, how would you respond to these questions, were you considering a gift, major or not, to any organization? This conversation does allow a relationship based on honesty and relevance for both sides.


Frankly, I would love it if an organization were to ask me rather than tell me; I bet many donors will feel the same way. Maybe you could ask them.

Would you like some customized donor conversation points? Check with us and we will help you have a real conversation with your donor.


image credit: