We remember better the things that we say much better than the things that are said to us. Think about your most recent conversation.  It’s likely that you have a better recall of the things that you said than the things that were said to you.

As a major gifts fundraiser, if you spend all the time talking, your donor just isn’t going to remember a whole lot from the meeting.

You could talk until you’re blue in the face about your mission.  And in a few days, all those beautiful, articulate things you said are forgotten. That’s why I like to ask questions that allow the donor to articulate the mission of the organization in their own words.

Here are some of my favorite questions to ask:

    • Of all the organizations you could support, why do you support us?
    • Why is our organization so important to you?
    • When you talk with people about our organization, what do you say?
    • Of all the activities we engage in as an organization, if you were to sum up what we do, how would you put it?
    • What impact do you think we could have in our community if we were to move forward with this project?
    • What impact do you think it would have on a young persons life to experience this?

If your goal is to eventually close a larger gift from your donor, you have to understand what’s important to your donor. You’ll learn that not by talking, but by listening.

You need to listen the gift. Ask questions, probe, clarify. Lean in and listen. You should be talking about 25% of the time and your donor should be talking about 75% of the time.

Your donors will like you more. We all like people who will listen to us. By asking good questions you’ll also establish yourself as a professional. More sophisticated donors will recognize the types of questions you are asking and will recognize you as a serious fundraiser. By asking good questions and listening you are setting yourself up for success.

My 12 Week Master Class devotes a whole week to Asking Strategic Questions and Listening the Gift. In that course I share my long list of my favorite strategic questions to ask. Don’t wait until you have the perfect question to ask and don’t wait until you feel like the questions are smoothly rolling off your tongue. Just start asking questions and get your donors talking!