When you’re running a nonprofit, people expect you to ask for financial donations. That doesn’t mean that you can always go straight for the ask, however. Today’s audiences want more of a connection with the organizations that they get involved with philanthropically, even if it’s just a little bit of “getting to know you” conversation before you actually get to the big money question. It’s like the age-old sales pitch—everyone knows you need money. The key is why they should give it to your organization.
The answer to that is simple: because you’re building relationships with people, not just asking for money. And in doing that, you should have an entire conversation that includes several questions before you get to the “big ask.”
To do that effectively, here are some questions that you need to be asking to get a conversation going with people and turn the “maybes” into major donors and regular givers.
Questions About Their Intentions
Obviously, you’ll be able to feel out a conversation with someone and determine which questions are safe to ask or which might turn them off. However, it never hurts to start with some questions about the donor’s intentions in interacting with your organization. For example, lead with questions like:
- Why did you choose our organization in the first place? Why is it important to you?
- What has your involvement been historically?
- Is there a personal connection for you to what we do?
- What are the best/worst things about the organization, in your opinion?
- Are there ways we can also get your family and friends involved?
If someone is interested in the conversation, they will provide answers to these questions and even more insight along the way. You can even ask a few questions and then if they seem interested, ask to set up a time to meet in person or discuss things further.
Questions About Their Giving
Getting to know your audience is a great way to see what kind of connections you’ve made. These questions will help you see how people have been involved in philanthropy in the past and how they prefer to be engaged with organizations, as well as what their values and interests may be.
These include questions like:
- Can you share an example of when you donated to a nonprofit or otherwise gave time or money to a good cause? How did it make you feel?
- Do you have any questions about our organization or how you can get involved?
- When did you first get involved with charity, volunteering, or nonprofit organizations? Is this an important part of your life today?
- What kind of legacy do you think you’d like to leave behind?
These questions mostly help you get to know the people who may become donors, but they are also designed to spur the conversation and make them think even harder about their donations and what they are giving.
If you want to make an impression, consider custom donor signs and lighted displays that make the “big ask” a big deal and see how your audience responds.