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Want to Know What Your Major Donor Is Thinking? Try This Question!

Want to find out what’s on your donor’s mind? And what’s in her heart?

Open her heart to your cause by asking this question!

Open her heart to your cause by asking this question!

Then try asking a very simple question.

“What are your impressions of . .?”

I can’t tell you how much money I’ve raised by using this question!

This open-ended question gets pretty amazing results.

It’s an easy, gentle opening to find out what a donor is thinking about my presentation, my cause, my event, my plans, and – my organization’s vision.

I use these 4 words all the time – and I get terrific benefits and feedback!

And you can use them too.

You know, this is such a very simple, single question.

And it is guaranteed to evoke a response from your donor that tells you where she stands.

It’s a Golden Formula for opening a donor’s heart to your cause.

But more importantly, it generates the donor’s own thinking about your issue.

It encourages her to ponder your presentation, to digest your material, to think about it, to react to it.

It encourages her to embrace what you have just said.

I like to get my donor’s brain thinking hard about what I’ve just said. That way she’ll incorporate it more thoroughly.

Your job is to ask, then shut up and listen carefully.

This question encourages the donor to think more deeply about what you’ve presented.

Listen your way to the gift!

Listen your way to the gift!

She is not going to get hot and bothered about your cause just by listening to YOU do all the talking.

Don’t forget the fundraiser’s Kiss of Death – talking too much!

Talking too much is the number one way to be BORING. Right?

I think listening is a lost art. How about you?

Your wonderful, generous, well-meaning donor needs time to mull over what you’ve said.

She needs to “stew” in the urgent need or bold vision that you’ve just presented to her.

So you ask the Golden Question and you sit tight.

What will you find out?

This is how to find out where your donor stands.

You’ll get her to really react to you and what you’ve said.

If you want money, ask for advice. If you want advice, ask for money!

If you want money, ask for advice. If you want advice, ask for money!

You’ll get something much deeper – and more informative – from her. Much deeper than if you had just presented, thanked her and then left.

This is true “Conversational Fundraising.”

This is HOW to get the donor talking to YOU – not the other way around.

Remember it’s always all about the donor. We forget this.

We think we have to be great salespeople and make a great pitch. NO!

What we have to do is FOCUS on the donor – and listen to him or her. We have to draw out the donor, and get her engaged with us about our cause.

It’s really amazing what you will find out – but you have to ask.

And you won’t do that if you do all the talking!

Many uses for this golden question:

Here are some real-world situations where “What are your impressions?” has served my colleagues and me very well:

1.  At the close of a visit with a donor.

I just had an Advice Visit with a potential donor to my favorite cause.

At the end of our visit, I asked him “What are your impressions of our ideas?

Ask their impressions and then shut your mouth!

Ask their impressions and then shut your mouth!

And he shared his reservations about our project. I was able to address these issues and he became a substantial donor. Hurray!

2. Cultivating a major prospect.

I  was walking out of a facility tour with a major, major gift prospect. He was actually a candidate for the leadership gift in this campaign.  So I asked him: what were your impressions of the tour?”

Well after 5 minutes of conversation – with some very careful maneuvering from me – he invited me to bring a $5ook proposal to his family foundation meeting the next week!

3. After a pitch.

I recently made a presentation for a consulting project that I would love to do.  I presented against one other firm.

As I was chatting with the President of the College afterwards, I asked him what were his impressions. He told me that he liked me a lot better than the other firm. : )

4. When I’m training or presenting.

I train boards a lot in fundraising and friendmaking. But I can’t make it just a one-way presentation – I have to get them to ponder and digest the material we are discussing.

So I model the Golden Question all the time, frequently asking them “what are your impressions of these ideas” – it gets them to mull over the discussion and really embrace it.

5.  After a formal presentation.

My friend, a Vice Chancellor at a major university recently made a big presentation to the Board of Visitors. She wanted to gauge the Chancellor’s reaction to her ideas.

She asked him, “What were your impressions of my presentation?’ And she got some terrific positive feedback!

How do YOU employ this question with your donors, staff, family and everyone in your life?

Ask this and you’ll find out lots and lots that you never knew before!

Leave a comment and let me know!

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  • http://twitter.com/mollykphillips Molly Phillips

    This is great Gail–never thought about using this question to get donors to voice the “silent doubts” they might be having.

  • http://twitter.com/ggfundraise Richard Freedlund

    Gail, It amazes me how much we think alike on such matters. Asking the question is important, but listening to the answer is far more important.
    Have a great weekend with your mom!

  • gailperry

    Hi Richard and thanks! Wouldn’t it be great if we realized fundraising was more about listening and less about presenting!

  • gailperry

    Yup Molly – gotta find a way to ferret out those doubts!

  • Karen K. Martin, MBA, CFRE

    Ditto at end of interviews–from “How does Skillset Rank in Pool?” to “What are Your Impressions of Candidacy?”

  • gailperry

    Absolutely Karen, this question works in so many places – for the better always!