The GuideStar Blog retired September 9, 2019. We invite you to visit its replacement, the Candid Blog. You’re also welcome to browse or search the GuideStar Blog archives. Onward!

GuideStar Blog

21 Discovery Questions to Ask Now

21 Discovery Questions to Ask NowGreat discovery is the key to retain and upgrade our donors. If we want donors to understand us we have to start by understanding them. Discovery centers on humans favorite subject – ourselves! Statistically people spend 60% of conversations talking about themselves.

To help you maximize the most out of every moment with your donors steal this cheat sheet on how to approach discovery, the best discovery questions you can ask, and tips to encourage open-ended dialogue.

How to approach discovery

Make sure that isn’t you talking AT the donor about how great the organization is! Aim to talk 25% and listen 75% of the time. Find a topic that is interesting to them, build rapport and start probing.

Use these soft skills to make your donor feel at ease

Exude positive energy. Smile throughout the conversation, whether you are on the phone or in person. Maintain eye contact. Express a genuine interest in them. Share sincere compliments. Begin with small talk, i.e. “Have you had a chance to take some time off this year? If so, where did you go? If not, where would you like to go?”

Ask permission to ask sensitive questions

This isn’t the Spanish Inquisition. First, ask the donor permission to ask questions. This shows respect for the donor, the topic and how you are using their time. i.e. ”Do you mind if I ask you a question?” “I’d love to get to know you better and learn more about your interests. Would you mind telling me more about the causes important to you?”

What if the donor seems surprised to hear from me?

Truth bomb - they may not even recall our organizations name or remember when they made a gift. They may think it’s a telemarketing call. That’s ok! Reassure them you are only calling to thank them for their gift, learn more about what inspired them to give so generously to your organization and find out if they have any feedback, thoughts or ideas on how you can make their experience more positive.

21 Killer Discovery Questions

  1. Tell me about your life.
  2. What inspired your first gift?
  3. What causes are you most passionate about?
  4. What do you hope to achieve with your philanthropy?
  5. How do you like to be invited to make a gift?
  6. Why does our cause matter to you?
  7. What do you love about what you do?
  8. What was the best gift you ever gave and why?
  9. Do you have any feedback for us?
  10. Is there any way we can make your experience more positive?
  11. How can we get you more involved?
  12. May I invite you to ___ ?
  13. Can I introduce you to _____?
  14. What values do you hold most dear?
  15. How does one make a difference in the world?
  16. What legacy do you want to have? Can you finish it alone?
  17. Which of the organizations that you support does the best job of keeping you involved? How?
  18. What is most important to you?
  19. Are there particular programs or areas that interest you?
  20. As you think about the future of our work, what are some of your worries?
  21. What are your hopes?

Are there any questions that are off limits?

Avoid yes/no questions. Ask open-ended questions. Don’t ask anything you already know, like when they gave or how much they gave.

What should I do with all the insight I gleamed from my donor(s)?

You spent a lot of time and thought finding out more about your donors. Make sure others can access these insights too! Record the details of your conversation in your donor database or CRM.

Ready to raise more NOW with major gifts? Come get strategies, tools and dashboards you can use immediately to reap lucrative fundraising results! Sign up for my 4 part webinar series Raise More Major Gifts Now! As a special thank you, we’re giving Guidestar readers $50 off!

Hope to see you there!

 21 Discovery Questions to Ask Now The preceding post is by Rachel Muir, CFRE, Vice President of Training at Pursuant where she transforms individuals into confident, successful fundraisers through classroom, custom and online training. When she was 26 years old, Rachel Muir launched Girlstart, a non-profit organization to empower girls in math, science, engineering and technology in the living room of her apartment with $500 and a credit card. 

Topics: Fundraising
  Your Nonprofit Profile on GuideStar has a new Demographics section.