Planning a capital campaign?
If so, you had better get to know your donors ahead of time.
Fact is, the success of your campaign depends less on how well you ask for gifts and more on whether you’ve built strong relationships with your donors.
Remember — at their core, capital campaigns are major gift fundraising. There’s a big difference though between a major gifts program and a capital campaign.
A great major gift program sets up relationships with large donors over the long haul. A capital campaign, on the other hand, is urgent and time-limited and pushes you strengthen those donor relationships now!
Flip the Model: Get to Know Donors First
Many people think that the best way to get to know donors is to make an appointment with them to tell them about their project.
Instead, flip the model — before telling them about your project, you ask them about themselves.
For a successful campaign, you will have to engage your major gift prospects, connecting with them more fully than ever. And while you may think that the best way to do that is by telling your donors about your project, really, the best way to do that is to ask them questions about themselves and listen to their answers.
22 Power Questions to Ask Your Donors
To get you started, I’ve selected a list of twenty-two great questions that you can use to get your donors talking about the things that interest and motivate them.
Use these questions to get to know your donors before you start telling them about your project.
Questions About the Donor
- Where were you born?
- How did you get from there to here?
- What were the most important lessons you learned from your parents?
- If you won the lottery, how would you spend your time?
- What are you most proud of?
Questions Asking for Advice
- What do you think about ______?
- Please give me your guidance on ______?
- Can we brainstorm this idea?
- What do you think I (we) should do?
- How would you handle this?
- Tell me more about that. (Not a question, I know. But powerful anyway.)
Questions About Giving
- What shapes your giving?
- What are your top three giving priorities?
- Why do you give to our organization?
- What do you think about our organization?
- Which of our programs do you find most compelling?
- What do you think of our plans?
- Are you ready to talk about supporting this project?
- What do you feel is the right decision for you?
- Who else should I be talking to?
- Would you consider making a gift of $______ to this project?
- What haven’t I asked that I should?
Practice Asking These Questions
Now, before you take these questions to your donors, make some time to try them out in comfortable settings.
- First, read them over several times. Then, start using them in your life outside of your fundraising work. Try them out at a dinner party or in conversations with friends.
- Get a feel for which specific questions seem most natural to you. Find out which of the questions seem to draw people out the most.
After you’ve used these questions in your personal life for a while, you’ll find them natural and easily available when you talk to prospective donors.
And once you start asking your donors and prospects questions that get them talking about why they care, you’ll know whether and how to best engage them in your capital campaign.
Fun — an Added Bonus
You’ll also find that your donor visits become much more engaging and fun.
The more you focus on getting to know your donors and helping them figure out what they’d like to do through their gift, the less asking for gifts feels like begging.
Which of the 22 questions above strike you as ones you’ll definitely ask your donors and why? Share your comment below.
** Photo credit: Copyright iloveotto / 123RF Stock Photo