March 28, 2009

Like an apple a day…

A donor a day. Call a donor. Tell her thank you. Ask her why she gave.

Another day, another donor. Call him. Tell him how you used his gift. And ask him why he first gave.

How many donor stories has your organization collected?

How many conversations do you have with donors every month?

How many interviews have you conducted with donors this year?

And how many donor stories do you tell? Sharing the emotions and insights offered to you by donors who are proud of their gifts and committed to their investments. Do you tell their stories in your newsletter, in your annual report, in your solicitation letters, on your website?

I’m hoping your answer to each of these questions is “Lots. And we’re doing it more and more.”

What questions do you want to be asked as a donor? Think about that. Then ask your donors what questions they want you to ask them.

Here are some of my favorite questions to ask donors – as a conversation evolves, or in an interview:

1. “Why did make your first gift to us?” (Thanks to Richard Radcliffe, UK consultant and researcher, for this great question.)

2. What interests you most about our organization — and why?

3. Why have you given to this organization for so many years?

4. What do you tell others about us?

5. Why does this cause matter to you? Why now in particular?

6. If you could change the world, what would you do?

7. Who have been the leaders and mentors in your life’s journal? (Thanks to Liz Hollander, former CEO of Campus Compact)

8. If you had a personal mission statement or slogan, what would it say — and why?

9. How do you want to be remembered? (Thanks to Carol Golden, chief philanthropy officer at the Rhode Island Foundation.)

See Keep Your Donors: The Guide to Better Communications and Stronger Relationships for more donor questions. And download the donor questions in the Free Library on this website.

Thanks to all the fundraisers and organizations who take the time to gather donor stories. Thanks to all the donors who share their stories and their gifts.

About Simone Joyaux

A consultant specializing in fund development, strategic planning, and board development, Simone P. Joyaux works with all types and sizes of nonprofits, speaks at conferences worldwide, and teaches in the graduate program for philanthropy at Saint Mary’s University, MN. Her books, Keep Your Donors and Strategic Fund Development, are standards in the field.

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