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Be Sure To Ask The “Right” Questions

In order to start a new friendship, you need to ask some questions about the person, right? This usually starts as “on the surface” banter and as you learn more and more, the questions become focused on what you have in common. It’s what begins to forge a relationship.

The same is true for donors. However, our donors of today are much more skeptical than a new friend might be. They’re used to being asked leading questions or even too many questions in the beginning of a potential relationship.

To use questions as an engagement strategy with donors, a bit of finesse is required. In copywriting for your e-newsletter, for instance, you might consider placing a question in the subject line or as a heading in one of your articles or stories.

Questions lead your readers on a journey toward themselves, or to that place within that relates to the problem you’re trying to solve.

To be using the “right questions, don’t get these wrong:

  • Never ask questions that are easily answered by yes or no. In general, open-ended questions work better because they lead your reader somewhere interesting.
  • Don’t make your questions self-serving. In other words, don’t be obvious about wanting to persuade them about anything.
  • Ask questions as you would in any normal conversation. There’s not much worse than feeling like you’re being drilled by a special set of questions that are asked to “all potential donors”. (Don’t be a rube by using questions because you think you’re supposed to.)

Just as you would tread lightly with your questions when making a new acquaintance, use them sparingly when getting to know your donors or volunteers. Again, it all comes back to authenticity and treating people the way you’d like to be treated.

You may be wondering, what questions are the “right” ones to ask?
How do I keep things conversational?

Here is a quick list – don’t use all of these, just take note of a couple:

  1. How did you come to know X organization?
  2. What about their work drew you in?
  3. What do you like best about X organization?
  4. How long have you been involved with X organization?
  5. In what other sorts of things do you like to invest your philanthropic dollars?
  6. Have you ever been to their annual event?
  7. Have you attended their open house events where you get to see the programs in action? What did you think?

These may seem to be common sense questions. They are! Again, keep it conversational. Don’t grill anyone or make them feel uncomfortable. A genuine interest level will most likely create a nice and easy conversation.

Take note! Make sure you’re tracking these conversations in your donor database, so that the information you just gleaned is available to you later.

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