Can I read to you the specials for tonight? Where are you going next? How did I do? These are examples of questions you may have been asked in a restaurant, by a friend or by a colleague. They are fair questions. But they are also examples of selfish questions. What do I mean by that? They are questions directed to a person focused on giving another some information that THEY need. These are selfish questions because they really do not focus on what the PERSON being asked needs. In fundraising, how often do we get caught up in asking selfish questions? Did you receive my call/letter/appeal? Do you support our school/program/agency? As fundraising professionals we should always begin asking other-focused questions. In this way we get a clear understanding of what our potential donor might need and can tailor our message to meet her/his needs. Here are some examples of other-focused questions:
- What was your best experience with our agency?
- Why do you so generously support our organization?
- Is there anything I can provide you to make your interaction with us as fruitful for you as possible?
- What kind of information would you like to receive from us and what is the best delivery method for you?
These questions seek deeper responses and responses that express the donor’s needs. The best way we can serve our agencies is to know them and learn from our donors/potential donors their needs. Then we can make real connections between the organizations and donors. These type of connections are authentic and therefore have the best possibility to be sustainable.
Remember, temper your zeal to immediately launch into a narrative about why your organization is so great, until you first identify the needs of the potential donor.