The 11 Questions Every Donor Asks

I just finished reading the book by Harvey McKinnon, with that title.  “The 11 Questions Every Donors Asks.”  (Link here)

What are they, you ask?  I’ll tell you right now:

  1. “Why me?’ This is a question of validation.  The donor wants to know why they are special and important.
  2. “Why are you asking me?” This is a question of recognition. They are basically saying who are you, and do you care about me.
  3. “Do I respect you?” This is a question of trust. Like the question before, a donor is only going to make a major gift if they have trust and faith in you.
  4. “How much do you want?” This is a basic question, and one you should know in advance. How much to ask for.
  5. “Why your organization?” This is the big question.  It’s the chance for you to make your presentation.
  6. “Will my gift make a difference?” This is a question of value.  If a person is going to part with their money, they want to get the most value of it.  Even smaller donors want to know their gift  is going to make a difference somewhere.
  7. “Is there an urgent reason to give?” Even if there isn’t, you should always make it feel like the need is urgent.  And the truth is, for most organizations, the need is always urgent.
  8. “Is it easy to give?” This is a question of time. Donors don’t want to have their time wasted.  It should be as easy as possible for them to give.
  9. “How will I be treated?” A question of respect and validation.  Donors want to know that their gift makes a difference, and they want you to show it.  Even though they sometimes request anonymity, or don’t want a lot of attention, for the most part it is good practice to lavish praise upon them.  Everyone likes to feel good, right?
  10. “Will I have a say over how you use my gift?” Again a question of respect, and control.  It is important that donors feel like they have control. In the long term, they will feel a sense of ownership in your group this way.
  11. “How will you measure results?” Not everybody, but a lot of donors want to hear about results.  They want the bottom line.  Always have this information available for them.

I find these 11 questions to be particularly helpful for me as I prepare for donor visits.  I like keeping these questions in the back of my mind.  Even if a donor never outright asks any of these, you should assume it is what they are thinking.

All of them come down to a matter of respect, validation, and appreciation.  Take a the time to listen to people, to understand them, and to respond to their needs.  That is what’s most important.


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