4 questions that you need to ask

Major gifts are the goal of any fundraiser worth his salt. But getting one is not as simple as calling up a prospect and asking them to shell out money to your cause. It takes the right questions to get the job done.

Speaking during the National Catholic Development Council’s (NCDC) 2014 Conference in Chicago, Ill., fundraising consultant William T. Sturtevant spoke during a session entitled “Developing Effective Listening Skills for Major and Planned Gift Fundraisers.” During this session, he said that the goal of the effective fundraiser is to encourage the prospect to talk, then listen to understand his/her views and unique needs and fears relating to the gift decision.

Part of listening also involves questions, and Sturtevant said there are four types of questions you can ask that will help you secure information. They are:

  • Confirmation: Validate data or point out inaccuracies. “Are you still concerned about escalating rates of lung cancer in women?”
  • New Information: Update information and fill in gaps. This may tell you the results the donor wants. “How did you settle in this beautiful part of the world?”
  • Attitude Questions: Identify personal needs, values, attitudes and sense of urgency. “What is your opinion?” OR “How do you feel about _____?”
  • Commitment Questions: These will help you locate your current position in the sale. “Am I correct in my understanding that we should finalize the arrangement for your gift?”