10 Questions to Ask Your Supporters

Where are you from? What do you do? Where did you go to school? Do you have any siblings? These types of questions roll out at rapid pace at restaurants across the country every weekend as individuals on first dates seek to learn more about one another. The better two people know one another, the thought goes, the better each will know how their potential relationship might work and the stronger the related bond.

Organizations’ relationships with their donors are not all that dissimilar. The stronger the bond, the better the relationship and a free exchange of information between the two parties helps foster a closer connection.

    Susan Holt, president and senior consultant for Vision Philanthropy Group discussed the value of asking donors bold questions during her presentation, “Designing Powerful Partnerships that Transform Culture and Result in New Major Gifts” at the Association of Fundraising Professionals International Fundraising Conference in New Orleans, La. These are 10 questions that might prove useful in developing a strong connection between donor and organization, according to Holt:

  • What is your history with the organization? Find out how the donor’s association with the organization began;
  • What has motivated you to stay involved with us;
  • Who have you spoken to or visited with most recently from the organization? Ask if they have heard from a board member or the organization’s president recently;
  • Are there members of our staff or board with whom you are close;
  • Which of the plans that we have laid out recently interest you the most? Follow up with any new ideas or plans that you might be able to share;
  • Do you feel good about the gifts that you have given over the years? If the answer is “no,” find out what the organization might do better. Thank them for their generosity;
  • Where does the organization rank among your various charitable interests? Again, thank them for their generosity over the years;
  • What about the organization’s overall work interests you the most? Share identified organizational priorities;
  • Would you be willing to consider a proposal from us? If they are, ask for some guidance as to what might appeal to their goals and sensibilities; and,
  • Do you know of any other people that might be interested in helping the organization’s cause? Ask if they might be willing to make an introduction.