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Want to Know What Your Major Donor Is Thinking? Try This Question!

Excerpted from the Fired-Up Fundraising Blog

Want to find out what's on your donor's mind? And what's in his or her heart?

Then try asking a very simple question.

"What are your impressions of ...?"

I can't tell you how much money I've raised by using this question!

This open-ended question gets pretty amazing results.

It's an easy, gentle opening to find out what a donor is thinking about my presentation, my cause, my event, my plans, and my organization's vision.

I use these four words all the time—and I get terrific benefits and feedback!

And you can use them, too. ...

Your job is to ask, then shut up and listen carefully. ...

Many Uses for This Golden Question

Here are some real-world situations where "What are your impressions?" has served my colleagues and me very well:

1. At the close of a visit with a donor.

I just had an advice visit with a potential donor to my favorite cause.

At the end of our visit, I asked him, "What are your impressions of our ideas?" ...

And he shared his reservations about our project. I was able to address these issues, and he became a substantial donor. Hurray!

2. Cultivating a major prospect.

I was walking out of a facility tour with a major, major gift prospect. He was actually a candidate for the leadership gift in this campaign. So I asked him: "What were your impressions of the tour?"

Well after five minutes of conversation—with some very careful maneuvering from me—he invited me to bring a $500k proposal to his family foundation meeting the next week!

3. After a pitch.

I recently made a presentation for a consulting project that I would love to do. I presented against one other firm.

As I was chatting with the president of the college afterwards, I asked him what were his impressions. He told me that he liked me a lot better than the other firm. : )

4. When I'm training or presenting.

I train boards a lot in fundraising and friendmaking. But I can't make it just a one-way presentation—I have to get them to ponder and digest the material we are discussing.

So I model the Golden Question all the time, frequently asking them, "What are your impressions of these ideas?" It gets them to mull over the discussion and really embrace it.

5. After a formal presentation.

My friend, a vice chancellor at a major university, recently made a big presentation to the board of visitors. She wanted to gauge the chancellor's reaction to her ideas.

She asked him, "What were your impressions of my presentation?" And she got some terrific positive feedback!

How do YOU employ this question with your donors, staff, family and everyone in your life?

Ask this and you'll find out lots and lots that you never knew before!

learn-what-your-major-donor-is-thinking_gail-perryGail Perry, Gail Perry Associates
© 2013, Gail Perry Associates. Excerpted from the Fired-Up Fundraising Blog.

Gail Perry is the author of Fired Up Fundraising: Turn Board Passion into Action and founder of Gail Perry Associates, a Raleigh, North Carolina-based consulting and training firm.

Topics: Fundraising